Claim: Panagbenga is a religious festival
The Facts: An article from the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCANews) is claiming that the Baguio Panagbenga Flower Festival, which is held every February, is a Christian and religious event, thanking Mary for the year’s harvest.
The only “Marian” in Panagbenga is Marian Catedral-King, the former VP for communications of Camp John Hay Development Corporation, who together with Damaso Bangaoet and Eric Picart conceptualized what would become the Panagbenga.
The Panagbenga started in 1995 by the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC). The JPDC, under the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), then sought out the government, education sector, business sector, civic groups, and the media to make the festival a reality.
In 1995, the local officialdom under then-mayor Mauricio Domogan and the then City Council launched the festival as the Baguio Flower Festival, before being renamed in 1997 to the Panagbenga, a Kankanaey term for “a season for blossoming”.
The festival has never had religious roots.
Panagbenga 2023 media committee head Andrew Pinero admitted that the origin of the festival was to spur economic activity as Baguio was still reeling from the devastation of the 1990 earthquake that struck it.
As part of the bid to spur economic development and activity, in 1997, the organizers started the now-famed “Session Road in Bloom,” which sees the road in the heart of the city closed to make way for stalls and performers, a tradition that has continued for every iteration of the Panagbenga since.