BAGUIO CITY (FEB.27) — As the Baguio Flower Festival gains worldwide attention and fame, drawing more crowds every year, concerns arise regarding the commercialization of culture, and that the solemn and sacred traditions of the indigenous people are only for entertainment for tourists.

But more tourists mean more income for the city and to attract these tourists, the city offers the “Panagbenga,” where culture and traditions are showcased to amuse them, according to City Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

“There is no commercialization of indigenous culture in “Panagbenga,” Domogan said in a phone interview.

“Panunotentayo a nasayaat, ti commercialization aramidem ti kastoy ta bayadan ka. Awan ti kasta iti Panagbenga. (Think about it carefully. In commercialization, you do something for a fee. This does not happen in Panagbenga),” he said.

“No agbaagtayo, no agsalatayo (If we wear G-string and dance), it is to tell the world that we are proud of our culture,” Domogan stressed.panagbenga festival street dancing competition


Domogan clarified that ” Panagbenga” is a festival, not a ritual, showing the indigenous culture.

“Dagiti salsala ti Igorot are meant for sharing, talaga nga awisenda dagiti bisita nga umay makiparticipate, (Igorot dances are meant for sharing, they invite people to come and participate),” Domogan explained.

“How are we to promote our culture if we do not show our dances, if we do not wear our costumes?” he said.

Domogan claimed that tourists during the festival give indirect economic contributions for the city’s development. He debunked criticisms that aside from the suffocating crowd and the heavy traffic during the celebration, development arising out of profits from the festival itself is not manifested outside the central business district.

“What shall we do to make them feel and see the development? They can criticize but they should also give suggestions,” the mayor lamented.

“Festival tayo amin dayta (It is our festival). It is a community-led festival. Let us be proud of it, let us support it,” he urged Baguio residents.

“Panagbenga” is operated and managed by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. In recent years, the foundation allegedly failed to submit the festival’s income and expenses report to the city council casting aspersions on its supposed accountability.

“BFFFI is a registered non-profit, non-stock organization so the report is submitted to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the profit is deposited to be used in succeeding Flower Festivals,” Domogan said. “All proceeds of “Panagbenga” go as future expenses for
the festival.”kalinga dancers3


Meanwhile, though it falls within the month of the Flower Festival, the Ibaloi Day every February 23 is a celebration of indigenous culture that is separate from “Panagbenga.”

“We should have been part of “Panangbenga,” but we realized that the festival is already commercialized so we withdrew from it,” Leopoldo Lamsis, president of the Onjon ni Ivadoy Inc. in Baguio City, said. “We have to celebrate Ibaloy Day on our own.”

“For the Ibalois, we do not commercialize, we only share. We just want to show the people the culture and traditions of the Ibaloi,” he said.

He said their culture and rituals are significant because it is what binds them together. “If there is dispute in any way, it is these rituals that resolve the problem,” Lamsis said.

Lamsis agreed that indigenous culture and traditions can be distorted in festival presentations like the street dancing and field demonstrations in “Panagbenga.”

“Yes, there are misrepresentations of the Ibaloi culture and
traditions. Some are doing them commercially, but for us in the Onjon ni Ivadoy, these are sacred. If possible, we do it as a true ritual. Hindi basta-basta na pupunta kami sa street, then we dance.”

He explained that they are showing their traditions and rituals so that other people may realize the significance of indigenous culture through the Ibalois who, he said, are united and peace-loving people.

It was learned that during the celebration of the 7th Ibaloi Day, about 4,000 Ibalois gathered at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden in Burnham Park here. The celebration started on February 20 and culminated on
February 23.

Lamsis said that the various cultural activities were highlighted by the holding of Dawit, a ritual for their ancestors. “We butchered a pig and called for our ancestors to give us peace of mind, that peace will always be with us and danger will be away from us.”


The Onjon ni Ivadoy is inviting those interested to learn the genuine Ibaloi culture and its significance. “It is important for others to know the significance of our traditions as a peaceful and united people. And if possible, they should follow our example because the main purpose of our tradition is peace and unity,” Lamsis said.

The Onjon ni Ivadoy offers year-round activities, training and
education program for free. There are workshops and lecture series on Ibaloi rites and rituals including language learning, playing instruments and dancing. Interested persons can contact Lamsis at 09204918159 or visit the Ibaloy Heritage Garden at Burnham Park.