Thousands expected as ‘Christmas in Baguio’ opens with a bang

BAGUIO CITY— Visitors expected to arrive in this cold mountain resort this holiday season will be greeted with various attractions that they will surely enjoy watching and experiencing.

Councilor Elmer Datuin on Monday said that thousands of tourists are expected to be in Baguio starting December 15, with the peak of tourist arrivals happening from the 20th to the 27th.

Last Friday, it was a colorful and fun day for city residents as well as visitors as they enjoyed the formal opening of the “Christmas in Baguio” with various activities held from morning till night.

The “Silahis ng Pasko” Mardi Gras parade was held at the main thoroughfare in the central business district at 7:00 a.m., participated in by about 5,000 day care children in their Christmas-inspired costumes.

Some were dressed as Santa Claus while some were dressed like gifts with ribbons. There were also children who came garbed as Christmas trees, reindeer and other holiday season characters.

The kids were joined by their parents and guardians who also came in colorful Christmas costumes with themes such as the Nativity Scene.

The Christmas Mardi Gras, now on its 44th year, is an annual event organized by the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) spearheaded by the father of “Silahis ng Pasko” organizer, veteran newsman and former city councilor Narciso Padilla.

With an executive order issued for the closure of Session Road, other activities were held in the thoroughfare. There were concerts and stage plays held, with people crowding the street.

A giant art installation by Tinatik artist, Maela Liwanag Jose, at Upper Session Road was also inaugurated on the same day. This was followed by the ceremonial lighting of the giant Christmas tree at the Rose Garden in Burnham Park followed by a 10-minute fireworks display prepared by the city government.

The crowd-drawing lantern parade of St. Louis University (SLU) lasted until about 9:00 in the evening that capped Friday’s festivities.

Dr. Andrew Macalma, dean of Students Affairs of SLU, earlier said the lantern parade,  now on its ninth year, is the academic institution’s contribution and commitment to the city as it opens the Christmas in Baguio every 1st of December.

Recalling how the CICM mission started in the Philippines, SLU depicted its history through lanterns.

CICM which stands for Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae, or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is a Roman Catholic missionary congregation established in 1862 by the Belgian Catholic priests.

The lanterns, big and small and in different shapes and colors, depicted the theme “One heart, one mission, the CICM journey,” and traced the roots of the CICM in the Philippines.

“Every year, we look at the theme of CICM. Last year, the theme was colors of mission. This year, the mission celebrates its 115th year in the Philippines and we would like to trace back the roots and how the CICM started in the Philippines,” Macalma said.

Retracing the history through the use of lanterns, the dean said each contingent is guided by history of the mission, and what were accomplished by the CICM based on the research of Dr. Wilfred Van Haute, who was asked and tasked to come up with a script for the lantern parade.

Bearing the lanterns, the participants from the university paraded down Session Road, passed through Harrison Road and entered the Athletic Bowl in a five-minute performance, which was the basis for judging the winners who are yet to be announced.  with a report from Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA