What this year’s Panagbenga means to me

I have attended every Panagbenga festival since I started living (and studying) in Baguio, four consecutive years to be exact. It used to be our tradition, starting when we first became a couple back in 2011, since our anniversary happened to fall in the same month as the festival’s.

I recall the first one to be the most memorable, because it was the first time we held hands in public. We were walking along Session road then, checking out various stalls, when all of a sudden you grabbed my hand. I was surprised and I stopped to look at you, puzzled and excited at the same time, but all you did was smile and say “Baka mawala ka”, that was probably the lamest excuse anyone can ever give but definitely the sweetest. I must admit how I loved the warmth of your hand pressing over mine, how reassuring it felt to have someone guide you through the large crowds.

But just like any other normal couples out there, we drifted apart.

Conversations became less frequent, date nights felt like a burden, suddenly you felt uneasy holding my hand when we were at school. Sure we barely really fought, but whenever we do, all unresolved arguments sprung out one by one pinning us down real hard. It became a relationship that was not bad, but was not good either: we tolerated the invisible distance, we became too comfortable, we settled for what we had. At least that’s how it was in my point of view.

This is the first time I missed Panagbega since I started living in Baguio, not only because I am a five-hour drive away from the city but because I have associated the festival too much with you that going there now is meaningless and probably pathetic – I might end up hating shawarmas, beaded bracelets, and fireworks. I don’t want to do that.

You told me yesterday how you would love to see me write something about you, about us – I’m not sure you will love this one, but this is how I feel. It has been months but I’m glad that I am slowly moving forward.


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