Innovations for Panagbenga 2016 pushed

BAGUIO CITY – The 21st edition of the Baguio Flower Festival with the theme, “Bless the Children with Flowers,” starts Feb. 1, 2016, featuring innovations befitting Panagbenga’s status as a “benchmark” festival.

In a press conference following the Panagbenga 2016 launching last Monday at city hall grounds, Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Venus Marie Tan spoke about the Baguio Flower Festival as a national and even an international “highlight” festival.

She said that the activities, ways and duration of celebrating Panagbenga is emulated in other festivals around the country, thus dubbed as “benchmark” and “highlight” festival.

A campaign is also underway to make Panagbenga a sustainable year-round event; and in support to the preservation of nature; a regreening and “re-blooming” through tree-planting, she said.

Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc., (BFFFI) officer and businessman Freddie Alquiroz said Panagbenga supports re-greening the environment with the floats now requiring 50% potted flowers, as against the whole float made wholly of cutflowers which wilts after a few days. Potted plants could be returned to flourish again cutting the cost for float-makers, he added. The potted plants could also be donated to institutions or those willing to re-plant them.

Another innovation would be the small float category, using smaller vehicles instead of big flatbed trucks, Alquiroz said. This allows more participation, as an individual or a group can join the float competition, it was known.

Alquiroz went on to say that Baguio schools bands are encouraged to participate in the 2016 Panagbenga; as with an invitation for other out-of-town bands. Their presence would enliven the grand street dancing parade on Feb. 27 which starts at the Panagbenga Park up to the Athletic Bowl; and the float parade, Feb. 28 starting at the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) office up to the Athletic Bowl, Burnham Park.

The Session road in Bloom, usually done within the city’s main street, would also now include Juan Luna and Lake Drive, Burnham Park, with more landscapers to be invited, Alquiroz said. The usual ten participants would be upped to fifteen, Alquiroz said.

There are also plans for a childrens’ costume competition, it was known.

In a forum, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said there are no restrictions nor boundaries on improvement, particularly on Panagbenga. The biggest room is for improvement, he said. “We are not resting on our laurels, and we intend to bring Panagbenga to a higher notch,” he added.

Earlier the mayor pointed out that Panagbenga is celebrated as a thanksgiving for divine blessings; for development and regional cultural identity; sustenance of the tourism industry in the city; and unification of efforts for environmental concerns. Mayor Domogan also emphasized that Panagbenga has survived for twenty years through teamwork and unity, and harmonious public-private partnership.

The main events for Panagbenga 2016 are: Feb. 1, Drum and lyre dance competition, Elementary division, from Panagbenga Park up to Melvin Jones Football grounds, Burnham Park; Feb 1 to March 6, Baguio Blooms Exhibition and Exposition, Lake Drive, Burnham Park; Feb. 14, Handog ng Panagbenga Sa Pamilya Baguio at the Melvin Jones Grandstand and Football grounds. This activity features the painting event: Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom; Family-oriented Kite-Flying Challenge; Variety Show; and Fireworks display in the evening.

On Feb. 19 to 21, Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming; Feb. 15 to 17, judging of the School-based landscape competition in city schools; Feb. 19, judging of the floral arrangement contest at the Baguio City National High School, the judging for the Barangay clean and green landscaping competition shall be announced at a later date.

Simultaneous with the streetdancing and float parades on Feb. 27-28 are Sponsors’ and Exhibitors’ Day at the Athletic Bowl; Feb. 29 to March 6, Session road in Bloom; March 5 is Pony Boys’ Day at Wright Park; closing ceremonies and grand fireworks display happens on March 6, mainly at the Athletic Bowl. Other venues are prepared for fireworks display./Julie G. Fianza


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