01 March 2007

Panagbenga: yehey! Political campaign: booo!

Believe it or not, it's my first time to attend the Flower Float parade, and the second time for my wife. So we were quite excited to see it live.

We stationed ourselves at Harrison Road, at the corner where the floats turn to finally head to the football field at Burnham Park for the final stop. We thought it was a great spot to take photos.

After half an hour or so of waiting, the PMA cadets leading the parade finally arrived, followed by a marching band in colorful shirts. They performed popular tunes and "danced" to the beat which drew cheers from the crowd. This was going to be fun.


Cute kids in a marching band


But no sooner had the second float passed us when this float arrived bearing Chavit Singson and other political candidates. They waved to the crowd and the crowd waved back. That was ok.... until their float stopped and they all stepped down to shake hands with the crowd. It was a mixed reaction. Some were delighted to shake the hands and have their photos taken with the candidates, especially those in show business. Many, it can be noted, were surprised, confused, then eventually complained.

The parade stopped because their float was in the way. And then, they did not turn to Burnham Park. They dispersed part of the crowd so they can cross to the road straight ahead, and their float followed suit. The crowd no longer returned to their original places. They ignored the off-limits zone and daringly moved forward. The other people started shouting and complained but it seems the crowd control people was losing control.

And then a huge Magsaysay banner followed suit. Unbelievable. Is this a flower parade or a political campaign? Then banner bearers started to sit near the alley, blocking the view of the crowd which elicited boos, and even then the crowd control gang only seemed to half-heartedly usher them off.

While the parade was at a standstill, this lady ordered the banner holders to straighten the banner and stand here and there, etc. Ugh.

At this point, the rest of the crowd started moving beyond the boundary and closed in on the path of the floats. My wife and I decided to move to Session Road.

Same thing. Political candidates moving amongst the crowd, shaking hands and having their photos taken.

It was a shame. People from all over went to Baguio to see this:
They came to see flowers. Lots of them. Not lots of politicians.

Even the festivity banners in the middle of the road had the face of a politician right under it!

Later that night, the news broadcasted that it was Mr. Domogan who invited them over. And the candidates interviewed said they found nothing wrong with mixing in their personal agenda into the celebration. Am I missing something here? Is this a Baguio fiesta, or is it vote-for-me day?

While I am not against political campaigns, if they were to participate in the Panagbenga, they should have just stayed put on their floats. Their antics disturbed the smooth flow of the parade. I heard that even the organizers were pissed at what happened.

They wanted publicity? They got it all right. Let's just see if they get their desired result come election day.

Another record-breaking Panagbenga attendance
Ms. Francine Prieto looked great in the San Miguel float
My wife and I dropped by the floats parked on the football field of Burnham Park for some last-minute shots.
In the end, we simply had to enjoy what was devoid of politics of any sort so that our day wouldn't go to waste. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen again. Lesson for us: we'd better stay in Session Road next time instead of going to Burnham Park where the parade ends.

PS. For more photos and jolly review of the event from someone who saw it in Session Road, please visit Cookie Posadas' article at clickthecity and Lino's Photojournal
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