Panagbenga 2012 without a proper camera

You saw the photos in the major dailies today, but here are a couple of shots editors didn't publish.

Military guys in full battle gear were among those who marched at the opening parade of this year's Panagbenga Festival. Gnawing at Skittles for breakfast and trying to quit blaming myself for not having brought a proper camera, I overheard the reactions of my fellow spectators:

"Bakit may Abu Sayyaf d'yan?" "Hala, magkakagulo ba?" "Grabe, may kanyon pa yatang dala-dala." I also wondered at first, and then it hit me. It's simple. Those soldiers, subjects of endless prejudices, were parading with other sectors of the community because they are part of it.

After all, every Filipino festival is by the collective effort of members of the community. Baguio City's Flower Festival, though obviously a tourism scheme, didn't just draw tourists and crowds, but also local folks who labored to put on a nifty show for a shared goal.

Every child who marched down the city roads has a story to tell. The hours of practice. The determined and creative school teachers who directed every dance step and every gimmick. The colorful attires and props that cost families some hard-earned income. The draining heat despite the cool breeze and the hours-long smile to keep.

These were unsaid, leaving the rest of us to watch in fascination from our comfortable spots under the trees' shades, flashing our cameras at the uncanny characters marching past us.

But the performers and the people behind them did their part for the common good. That's the way of the world. And it's the way we can make the world better.

The Panagbenga is a great reminder of the requisite sportive attitude amid adversity. A massive earthquake hit the Cordillera region and neighboring towns in 1990, causing the untimely deaths of over a thousand people. Several non-for-profit organizations then started an event to celebrate the year's blooms.

Turning their attention to the brighter things in life rather than dwell on the memory of nature's atrocity, the people of Baguio eventually developed it into a full blown, month-long festival of flowers--a major product of the city's economy.

A solid example of the festival's spirit is this young boy who kept that smile even after having repeated the same routine while marching under the scorch, serving as an inspiration to his companions who were getting tired of flashing those whites for wire photographers and viewers.

This adorable little girl, too, who's probably no more than 3 feet tall kept the native Benguet moves throughout the duration of the parade, heroically scaling the lengthy streets like a sturdy athlete.

Sure I didn't bring a nice enough camera with pricey lenses to take better photographs, but my eyes luckily captured worthy lessons of cooperation, solidarity and dedication from the town's communities to take home to chaotic Manila. #

All photos by Camille Diola. Please cite Creative Commons license for use.