Baguio Blooms vows improvements

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


ORGANIZERS of the Baguio Flower Festival introduced improvements to the annual Market Encounter activities now called Baguio Blooms giving a strict warning to tenants to abide by new rules.

Panagbenga Executive Committee chairman Anthony De Leon said the BFFFI will now run the activity with the Center for Hospitality and Culinary Foundation (CHEF, Inc.) of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio tasked to manage the monthlong event.

Some 187 stalls have opened at the Lake Drive, Saturday, offering various products including potted ornamental plants and flowers, handicrafts, shoes and bags, souvenir and pasalubong items, ready to wear clothes and snacks.

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Maybelle Espina, a tourist from Taguig City, said the Baguio Blooms attracted them especially its landscape designs and vertical gardens displayed by local landscapers, something not seen in other festivals they have attended.

More than 12 landscapers joined this year’s competition with vertical gardens decorated with aerial plants and flowers with water fountains, concrete sculptures, salvaged wood ornaments and wood carvings as centerpieces.

Organizers have increased subsidy for the landscapers from the P20,000 subsidy given out last year to P30,000 this year.

Tourists who frequent Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival like Arnold Andrada from Sta. Rosa, Laguna also said this year’s displays are better in terms of layout compared to last year when the market Encounter was located at Juan Luna Drive.

He, however, suggested more flowers and ornamental plants to be displayed in other stalls. Andrada also suggested for food stalls featuring Baguio’s cuisine instead of the usual hamburgers, hotdogs and shawarma which can be availed of all year-round in the city.

Meantime, festival organizers stressed since this is the first year the BFFFI is handling the market encounter, visitors and residents must expect more improvements in succeeding years.

Organizers stressed tenants are not allowed to sublease stalls compared to what has been experienced in previous years where various traders divide stalls and sublease them to other vendors. Those violating the subleasing rules are to pay P15,000 penalty to the festival organizers.

Tenants at the Baguio Blooms are paying P6,500 per square meter for their stalls compared to P4,500 per square meter last year.

Members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio, meanwhile, are given 10 percent discount in their rent at Lake Drive exhibition.

But festival organizers led by De Leon stressed they are only improving the annual activity for it to be organized and clean for visitors to enjoy.

Food concessionaires are also required to practice proper food handling with hair nets and gloves. Cooking using charcoal and other activities such as washing of food utensils and plates are also not allowed at the Baguio Blooms exhibit area.

Also adopting best practices from the Session Road in Bloom, festival organizers have also implemented a ‘no plastic bag’ policy as part of the pro-environment advocacy of the festival with tenants using brown paper bags and reusable bags as packaging materials for their products.

In the City Council regular session last week, De Leon stressed the Baguio Blooms and Session Road in Bloom are very important as they are the income generating activities intended to subsidize other non-income generating activities of the month long celebration.

The City Council, through the Committee on Laws, endorsed the two activities adding these are exempt from the Trade Fair Ordinance as institutionalized activities with the city government as main sponsor.

From January 31 to March 2, BFFFI will utilize the Lake Drive along Burnham Park for the Baguio Blooms with operating hours from 8 am to 10 p.m.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 05, 2014.

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