A CABINET official lauded organizers of Panagbenga and hopes to bring the annual flower festival into the Asean stage.

Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Ana Marie Banaag during the opening program said the festival is a celebration showcasing the rich culture of Baguio over the years.

With the festival accredited by the International Festival and Events Association, Banaag said it’s about time the festival reach an international market.

"Let's bring Panagbenga to the ASEAN … We can engage the world," Banaag said.

With the theme "Inspired by Beauty, Nurtured by Nature,” the 22nd edition of the Panagbenga, an Igorot term for season of blossoming opened February 1.

Baguio City Mayor Maurico Domogan said the festival is a celebration which showcases not only the rich culture and tradition of Baguio City but the whole region as well.

"22 years ago when we found this festival, we did not expect how it grow like this. It is because of the teamwork of the City of Baguio and private partners," Domogan said adding Panagbenga remains one of the most organized and orderly festival in the country.

Representative Mark Go also lauded the different partners who took part in the celebration saying they will continue to improve and develop the city as a top tourism hub despite of all challenges.

The festival kicked off with a multi – faith prayer, native ritual and cultural show at the Panagbenga Park followed by the parade from Upper and Lower Session Road to Magsaysay Avenue to Melvin Jones Grandstand.

Highlighting the parade will be the Elementary School level Drum and Lyre preliminary competitions that will be judged based on their Streetdance choreography, execution, instrumentation, creativity, costume and recycled props, and audience impact.

competing schools are Apolinario Mabini Elementary School, Baguio Central School, Dominican – Mirador Elementary School, Don Mariano Elementary School, Dona Aurora Elementary School, Emilio Aguinaldo Elementary School, Jose P. Laurel Elementary School, Josefa Carino Elementary School, Lucban Elementary School, Pinget Elementary School, Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School at Camp 6 Elementary School, Tuba, Benguet.

Members of the the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) and city officials also led opening of the Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition on Juan Luna Drive, Burnham Park, for the landscape competition.

Other activities lined up in the month-long festival include Handog ng PanagBenga sa Baguio (February 12), Session Road in Bloom (February 27 to March 5), Grand Street Dancing Parade (February 25) Grand Float Parade (February 26), and Pony Boys Day (March 4), and other community led – events and sports and adventure activities.