All systems go for Feb. 1 Panagbenga opening

BAGUIO CITY -- It's all systems go for the 24th staging of the Baguio Flower Festival or “Panagbenga” opening on Friday.

"All aspects of the preparation are now ongoing, particularly the security, traffic, and the main event,” Councilor Elmer Datuin, co-chairman of the 2019 organizing committee, said in an interview Wednesday.

“Panagbenga will always be Baguio’s grand celebration of life, proud fiesta of the best in our city’s floral wealth, joyfully shared with our visitors and guests for their fullest enjoyment of the best there is in Baguio,” he added.

“Panagbenga,” a Kankanaey word meaning “blooming”, was conceptualized in 1995 as a recovery measure after the 1990 earthquake that hit Northern Luzon including Baguio. This year's Panagbenga celebration carries the theme "Blooming Forward.”

The activities on opening day are the parade elimination of the elementary drum and lyre competition; the landscape competition and the Baguio blooms exposition.

Datuin said traditional activities will remain part of the event, including the “Baguio Blooms Expositions and Exhibition” at Burnham Park; School-based floral arrangement and landscaping competition; Spring Festival celebration, PMA alumni homecoming weekend, “Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilyang Baguio”, “Let a thousand flowers bloom”, Concert at the Park, Session road in bloom and Pony boys day.

Meanwhile, Anthony de Leon, co-chairman of the organizing committee, said they have increased the subsidy of the participating schools from PHP40,000 to PHP100,000 so that they can improve their costumes and performances.

“To assure a better performance of the street dancers, the organizing committee has increased the subsidy of participating schools to PHP100,000 -- PHP40,000 for the school to allow them to get a quality choreographer and the PHP60,000 as subsidy for the students and parents who will spend for the costumes,” de Leon said.

Evangeline Payno, Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. chief-of-staff, said Apolinario Mabini Elementary School, Baguio Central School, Jose P. Laurel Elementary School, Lucban Elementary, Tuba Central School, Manuel Quezon Elementary School, and Dontongan Elementary School will be competing in the street dance and drum and lyre competition.

Payno said contestants for the high school and college, including the open category, are still being accepted.

The street dancing parade participants have to depict the theme "Blooming Forward: a showcase of Philippine flowers.”

On the other hand, Supt. Johnny Balaki, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) chief for operations, said around 427 police personnel and 1,400 crowd control volunteers, including medical teams, will be deployed during the festivities, especially for the grand parades.

Rerouting schemes will be implemented to allow the continuous flow of traffic despite the closure of some roads during the parades.

Authorities also urged the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious during the festivities. (PNA)

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