Feb 25, 2008

I don't heart Panagbenga

It's been a crazy month, February - and to make matters worse: it's Panagbenga season.

I don't wanna seem like a flowerfest scrooge, but I hate Panagbenga: pardon me but it's hard to get me excited about a 4 hour parade that features school kids dancing the papaya song played by a drum and lyre band. I'm not a big fan of Isuzu Elf trucks covered in moss with some girl I don't know with a sash riding in the back throwing candies and waving at me. I like the occasional corn cob but to see thousands of corn vendors lining up the length of Session Road just isn't right: in between hotdog stands and cellphone accessories and Marikina shoes stalls. And it's as if Session Road isn't filthy enough on regular days, as if teh city isn't in the middle of a garbage crisis, it breaks one's heart to see the piles and piles of garbage left by the tourists and the merchants every single night for a whole week.

And what do they call this ravaging of the city's main artery? "Session Road In Bloom!". No, my friend, in bloom Session Road is not these days, it's more like Session Road's doom.

You stay home and turn on the tv and there's our mayor, in his cute shorts having a tete-a-tete with a recently convicted (and alas, pardoned) plunderer. Someone who stole hundreds of millions from the people apparently deserve a seat at the VIP section: Welcome to Baguio. I wonder where he's staying while he's here? At the very controversial log house on millionaires row or the equally controversial residential log house inside Camp John Hay?

We needed to go online so with one hand holding Leon and Aeneas perched on my shoulders and RL and Garbiela trying to catch up behind us, we braved the traffic and walked up from Bunrham Park (filled with tourists, stalls and garbage) to Session Road (filled with more stalls, more tourists, more garbage). You cross the road from Prime Hotel towards Cid Educational Supplies and I believe you've seen the rest of "Session Road's Kabloom". Shoes from Marikina, corn and hotdog vendors, E-load/Autoload stalls, and the occassional stall selling plants. We were stalled (pun intended) in the middle of the road: a dragon dance in progress... followed by a group of unicyclers (one was having a hard time getting back on his unicycle on Session Road road's uneven surface) and a phalanx of clowns on stilts. Ok, THAT was kinda nice. I walked right up to the guys on stilts and had Aeneas high-five two or three of them, which embarassed him, and eased my way to the other side of the road.

It's been said countless times before, if you're from Baguio, you'll never to fail to bump into a friend while walking up or down Session Road. But that's another thing I hate about this whole thing: even with the hundreds of thousands of people that squeeze thesmelves in between the commercial stalls and corn and hotdog vendors on Session Road during Panagbenga, it's hard to come across a friend.

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