Catajan: Festival bickering


IT’S festival season here in the city atop the mountains.

The tantantantantantanatan hymn vibrates in nooks and crannies of the mountaintop, culminating in a two-day parades meant to awe.

The time for blooming, parades and dancing. Seems simple. As a festival is what it is, but not for the Panagbenga.

But alas, this time also signals the start of bickering over authority to run the once simple fiesta. Powered by politics, credit grabbing and a profit mentality, the festival opens a Pandora’s Box every year.

Nothing is simple nowadays when it comes to Panagbenga.

When the festival first started, it had a grand plan to stage a simple celebration for the community. A little something for the locals to marvel at, after the devastation of the earthquake.

Seemed noble. And it was.

Until it became better, development always has its downside it seems and rings true to the flower festival.

A comedy of errors has marked each year of the festival with small details, magnified and gawked at by an audience eating popcorn.

There was one festival when two sets of activities were made, in a seeming impasse between organizers, one parade, children were allowed to saunter the streets despite a downpour, and it meant the career of one politician.

Today, the street and float parade has been defined by bickering, a never ending bickering from all sectors, the festival means a lot of things to a lot of people.

Annually, it becomes a test of wills on how to conduct the month-long affair seamlessly, but for politicians, it’s a test of clout and how they use the exposure to up their games.

Sometimes it’s sad to listen to the debates but most of the time it is amusing, like a game show, with the host getting confused on how to declare a winner.

Years back, Prospero Pichay, a senatorial bet, had his own float while his helicopter hovered drowning the music of the Panagbenga brass band.

He lost the elections.

Today, no politician is allowed to have a float.

Las year, Imee Marcos, attended the parades and literally crossed every protocol organizers made, in a show of defiance and obvious disregard for rules.

Despite the breech, she was still allowed to make a speech and declare her brother as the rightful vice president to the unsuspecting crowd.

It was dubbed as “unfortunate” by the people here.

The word “unfortunate” means having or marked by bad fortune; unlucky its synonyms include unlucky, hapless, out of luck, down on one's luck, luckless, wretched, miserable, forlorn, unhappy, poor, pitiful.

It was unfortunate, more for the city than for her, who was treated every inch as the V.I.P. that she insists she is.

The dictionary does not lie.

This year, the rules have been changed to allow politicians parade the route intended for children and floats.

Provided they follow the rules.

Isn’t that laughable.


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