HomeNewsCatholic media service fact-checked for posting ‘fake news’ on ‘Panagbenga’ festival

Catholic media service fact-checked for posting ‘fake news’ on ‘Panagbenga’ festival

The 'fake news' article carries the headline “Marian flower festival returns in the Philippines”

A news article that appeared on the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) site has been tagged as “fake news” by a local media organization for claiming that Baguio City’s “Panagbenga” is a “religious festival.”

A UCAN article that was posted on February 3 claimed that the “Panagbenga Flower Festival,” which is held every February, is a Christian and religious event, thanking Mary for the year’s harvest.

The article carries the headline “Marian flower festival returns in the Philippines.”

“This is False,” read a post on the Facebook page of Baguio Chronicle, a local news publication.

“The only ‘Marian’ in Panagbenga is Marian Catedral-King, the former [vice president] for communications of Camp John Hay Development Corporation, who together with Damaso Bangaoet and Eric Picart conceptualized what would become the ‘Panagbenga,’” read the post.

The UCAN story claimed that the Panagbenga festival “thanks Virgin Mary for the past year’s harvest with cultural shows that feature the history of the mountainous province of Benguet.”

Baguio Chronicle, however, said the Panagbenga was started in 1995 by the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation.

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“The JPDC, under the Bases Conversion Development Authority, then sought out the government, education sector, business sector, civic groups, and the media to make the festival a reality,” it said.

The “fact-check” post said that in 1995, former Baguio City mayor Mauricio Domogan and the city council launched the festival as the “Baguio Flower Festival,” before it was renamed in 1997 as the “Panagbenga,” a Kankanaey term for “a season for blossoming.”

“The festival has never had religious roots,” said Baguio Chronicle.

The note said Andrew Pinero, Panagbenga 2023 media committee head, admitted that the origin of the festival was “to spur economic activity as Baguio was still reeling from the devastation of the 1990 earthquake that struck it.

“As part of the bid to spur economic development and activity, in 1997, the organizers started the now-famed ‘Session Road in Bloom,’ which sees the road in the heart of the city closed to make way for stalls and performers, a tradition that has continued for every iteration of the Panagbenga since,” read the Baguio Chronicle post.

The Union of Catholic Asian News claims to be “the leading independent Catholic media service from Asia.”

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