BAGUIO CITY — It’s all systems go for the much-awaited grand parades of the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga on Feb. 24-25, organizers of the colorful annual festival here said Tuesday.
“All aspects of the preparation are now ongoing, particularly the security, traffic, and the main event,” assured Councilor Elmer Datuin, who also chairs the festival executive committee.
Datuin said even the utility firms, including the Baguio Water District (BWD), had been advised to make sure there would be water on the peak days of tourist arrivals, starting Feb. 23, ahead of the grand street dance parade on Feb. 24, and the grand float parade on Feb. 25.
The garbage disposal issue, the city official said, had also been looked into to make sure that it would be collected and transported to the engineered sanitary landfill in Urdaneta, Pangasinan.
Datuin expressed confidence that tourists will have more fun this year, with the street dancing and the float parades made grander, according to him.
“We believe that we can present a much better, more thorough presentation of the street dancing because I am sure the participants are more excited now. They have the incentive to excel in the competition,” he said.
He added the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. has doubled the prizes for the winners. What used to be PHP250,000 for the grand prize of the big float was raised to PHP500,000. The grand prize for the street dancing was increased from PHP150,000 to PHP300,000.
“We have almost doubled the price of the street dancing and so we expect more colorful, more prepared contingent in the elementary, high school, and college,” Datuin said.
For the float parade, Datuin said there were 26 entries, same as last year.
He added the float participants are still coming in. There are participants vying for the first place in both the small and big float categories.
“We know that it is quite expensive, but their participation and their intention to participate, in itself, says that they are willing to do their part, spend some more, to make their floats more beautiful,” he noted.
Participants said a big float requires about PHP400,000, for the fresh flowers and the fee of the landscape designer.
Agreeing with the estimates of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio, Datuin said the city government was also anticipating tourist arrivals to double for the parade.
He said tourist arrivals on the festival’s grand parades had usually exceeded Baguio’s accommodation capacity, but there were more facilities to take them in now.
“I do believe that we have more facilities, more hotels, transient houses, bus lines to Baguio. If only we can almost perfect the traffic situation, I think the inconveniences that we were experiencing in the past would be lessened this year,” Datuin said.
He added the city’s Traffic, Transport Management Council had also laid out its traffic plans.
He advised visitors with cars to just use either carpooling or public transport inside the city during the festival.
“We have enough taxis in Baguio and they are honest they give back even a one-peso change,” Datuin said.
He also urged the tourists to take a little walk when in Baguio, as most of the parks are near each other and the activity is healthy.
He also invited them to come to community-led events like the Creative City exhibit that runs from Feb. 10 to 24.
He said about 500 bonsai varieties would also be exhibited at the Rose Garden in Burnham Park, a part of the Panagbenga festival.
Panagbenga started on Feb. 1 and will end on March 4. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA-northboundasia.com