Re-examining Panagbenga: The Public’s View

(Conclusion)

The 2007 Panagbenga, still under BFFFI, was heavily criticized for allowing political parties and personalities in the float parade. Politicians shaking hands with the crowd wee jeered.  It turned out that it was Domogan who had invited some of the candidates to the parade.

BY LYN V. RAMO
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
SPECIAL REPORT
Vol. VIII, No. 3, February 17-23, 2008

The 2007 Panagbenga, still under BFFFI, was heavily criticized for allowing political parties and personalities in the float parade. Politicians shaking hands with the crowd were jeered.  It turned out that it was Domogan who had invited some of the candidates to the parade.

Behind the glitter and glamour the Panagbenga has reaped criticisms from the more culturally keen groups in the Cordillera.

The Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK or Council for Cordillera Culture) thinks it is a bastardization of the Cordillera culture to see boys and girls clad in the native costumes playing and dancing to the tune of “Boom tarat-tarat” or “Spaghetti,” popular tunes from a noontime variety show.

“These children may have come from tribal communities in the Cordillera and the Panagbenga may be inflicting confusion on their cultural consciousness,” John Marasigan, a cultural activist, said.

DKK is a group of indigenous artists studying and portraying authentic indigenous peoples’ culture through songs and dances.

This year, the celebrations include 12 major events interwoven with almost 100 minor events stretched through the whole month of February. Since 2007, the festival has started reverting to its original private-led, community-initiated and government-supported character.

Beverly Longid, CPA chairperson, sees the Panagbenga as a profit-driven tourism event commercializing the culture of the Cordillera indigenous peoples.

CPA criticizes the “bastardization and commercialization of culture” displayed in the Panagbenga in its aim to attract and entertain more tourists. Longid said this is staged yearly at the cost of exploiting Cordillera indigenous culture so rooted in our indigenous peoples’ history of bravery and rich cultural heritage.

“Rituals have their own context in the ili (tribe),” Longid said. “To replicate this for consumers satisfaction robs the Cordillera people of their own cultural symbols and practices.”

“Culture should foster understanding, but this one is not realistic,” Longid said. She added the movements, costumes, and tunes were changed for what is attractive to tourists. “Culture is dynamic and is not imposed,” she said.

Leaked audit report

Despite the absence of an official copy of the audit findings, a community weekly (not Nordis) carried a report on the audit last December. The CoA team expectedly reacted on the report, saying the findings are not yet final, thus the publication of such report was premature.

The audit observation memorandum by CoA was reportedly submitted on Oct. 8  last year for the comments of Bautista, Vergara, Tabin, Clemente, Manaois, City Treasurer’s Office’s Rose de Vera and City Accountant’s Office’s Ronald Felix Bala.  De Vera reportedly cashiered for the BFFFI, while Bala did the bookkeeping.

Clemente said that early in December last year they submitted their answer, which she said explained blow by blow the allegations of the audit memo. She said the audit report was lopsided.

CoA’s Atty. Rosemary L. Saldo, leader of the audit team, clarified that the audit memo had to be furnished the city officials representing the auditee, and all persons concerned for their comments and justifications, if any.

“Within a prescribed period, the auditee’s comments are evaluated and the audit team gives its rejoinder,” Saldo clarified, in her letter she furnished the city mayor in December.  She added the findings would only be final when the report is released by CoA.

Coun. Fred Bagbagen’s proposal asking CoA an official copy of the audit report may not be the end in itself as far as Panagbenga government financing is concerned. As other councilors would put it, the move may open yet another can of worms.

“Leaving allegations that it is graft-laden and filled with corruption hanging in the air, with no sight of action to rectify or correct them, will only lead pro-people groups and city officials to dig deeper into the flower festival,” TTU chairperson Geraldine Cacho iterated. “Only then will the city of Baguio truly reach its blossoming. Only then can the people truly celebrate the flowers.” Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat

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