A BRIGHT candy-land themed float was hailed champion in this year’s festival float competition in Baguio City.
The entry of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) was a runaway winner for the big float category, bagging the P250,000 prize and besting 13 other entries in the 21st Baguio Flower Festival celebration.
The NLEX float was bedecked with fresh Malaysian mums, roses, sunflowers, orchids and aster, wowing the crowd with rotating cupcakes, lollipops and candies made out of highland blooms.
Big float category first runner-up went to SITEL, while the Taloy Norte Multi-Purpose Cooperative came in as second runner-up.
Top crowd drawer
The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated pegged two million tourists who flocked to the mountain haven for the two-day parades.
Sun.Star Baguio conducted an informal survey during the grand street dance and float parades to know whether spectators enjoyed Panagbenga 2016 highlights.
For the grand street dance competition, tourists from several parts of Luzon gave their feedback.
"The street dance parade is way better than it is shown in the TV, very colorful and the dancers were good," said the Bernardo family from Manila.
According to the head of the Bernardo family, it was their first time to visit Baguio City, and they were already at the parade route as early as 7 a.m. to secure their spot in the side streets.
“Maganda yung mga sayaw nila, pati yung mga costumes at props nila makukulay at namumulaklak,” said Rudy Antonio, a dancer from La Union.
“Lahat sila magagaling pero iba talaga yung sa Pamulinawen, sabay-sabay kasi yung movements ng Pamulinawen at very energetic yung mga dancers. Better performance next time na lang sa iba,” added Jessa Mendez, a student from Isabela.
“They [Pamulinawen National High School] were great; even if it’s hot, they are still smiling and giving all their best in the dance routines. I would surely come back here [Panagbenga Festival],” said Mark Whiteside, from California.
“Mabini Elementary school, yan expected namin na may magandang performance, sila din kasi nanalo last year sa elementary. Sila yung nakaviolet ngayon, magaling talaga sila,” said Janine Marquez from Ilocos.
Janine and her family return to Baguio yearly to witness the highlights of the Flower Festival.
Tourists, most of them children, enjoyed the Sunday float parade.
“Ang nagustuhan ng mga anak ko yung sa SM Baguio saka yung may candy, cupcakes at lollipop na umiikot. Magaganda yung mga float at maraming bulaklak,” said Marie Santos from Tarlac.
Another crowd drawer and kiddie favorite was the Jollibee float.
“I want Jollibee and Hetty,” said eight-year-old Kim Bernabe of Manila while waiting for the Jollibee float to take its spot at the Melvin Jones ground.
“The floats were very colorful and there are a lot of flowers. They are very creative. You can’t see this in other festivals; it’s only here and the weather here is cool. I hope we can visit again next year,” said Alexander James from Canada.
Garnering the loudest cheers from the crowd was the ABS-CBN and MLhuillier floats because of showbiz personalities Coco Martin, Maja Salvador, Melai and Jason Gainza riding their respective floats.
“Natuwa kami kasi nakita namin si Coco Martin. Ang gawapo niya pala talaga, tapos si Maja Salvador pa nandun din si Melai at Jason Gainza sa float yata ng MLhuilier yung sinasakyan nila. Nag-enjoy talaga kami lalo na star studded ang Panagbenga. Isa din ang mga artista sa inabangan namin,” said Carol Santiago, a student from Nueva Vizcaya.
Other winners for the small float category float parade were Selecta, Universal Robina Corporation, and Philippine Seven Corporations (7-eleven).
Consolation prizes were given to Jollitown float of Jollibee, B-Max themed float of the Manor, Dessert-themed float of Pascual Creamy Delights, the Better Together float of Pepsi, the REVBLOOM-themed float of Department of Tourism, the Department of Agriculture float, Taste the Feeling themed Coca-Cola float, Probinsiyano float of ABS-CBN, Barangay, MLhuillier float, Lower Dagsian’s tree trunk float, Zagu foods corporation, TV-5 and Asia Pacific theological Seminary International Praise Center.