Baguio’s Panagbenga safe from Clark fest-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
ORGANIZERS of the 18th Panagbenga Festival are optimistic they will continue to attract tourists in Baguio City despite other events coinciding with the flower festival’s highlights.
The statement came as activities for the annual Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark Field, Pampanga will also be held on the same weekend as the Panagbenga Festival highlights, which is on February 23 and 24.
Panagbenga Executive Committee chairman Frederico Alquiros said they do not consider the event in Clark as a competitor.
“That’s okay. Those that go there do not stay overnight compared to Baguio where they stay and book at our hotels,” he said.
Two weeks before the grand street dancing and float parades, he said most of the major hotels have already registered fully-booked rooms.
With the weekend preceding a school holiday due to the Edsa Revolution commemoration on February 25, he said they are expecting school children with their parents and barkadas to head to Baguio during the long weekend for the flower festival.
Alquiros said the festival offerings of both Clark and Baguio are not the same stressing the Summer Capital’s charm at this time of the year is its cooler temperatures.
“Nothing compares to Baguio. Tourists rush to Baguio especially when reports of temperature drops and cooler weather start coming in,” he said.
Alquiros and festival co-chairman Anthony De Leon have focused on improving the festival through the years with improvements introduced every year.
This year, the festival organizers introduced the “Largest Carpet of Flowers” that was unveiled during the opening program at the Baguio Athletic Bowl and will be on display for the duration of the festival.
The idea was the brainchild of de Leon but designed by landscapers headed by Rosita Cuilan, who patterned the design from the Panagbenga 2013 logo. The carpet is 100 x 200 feet in size composed of thousands of marigold flowers, sunflowers, marguerite daisies and other indigenous ornamental materials.
With the inclusion of the Baguio Cultural Society in previous year’s street dancing activity, Alquiros said the parades have developed into a fusion of traditional dances mixed with flower-inspired costumes, making it unique from other festivals in the country.
Additional attractions to this year’s festival is Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio, held over the weekend featuring kite competitions, boat races, pocket entertainment akin to country fairs abroad and concerts participated by the city’s top universities.
Alquiros said the activity is the festival’s gift and a way of giving back to the Baguio community. It started with the “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” painting activity and capped by a fireworks display.
The two organizers said that while the Panagbenga highlights have domestic tourists flocking city streets to witness traditional dances and flower-festooned floats, it is the city residents who participated and enjoyed last weekend’s activities.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 13, 2013.