WITHOUT much fanfare but with unwavering faith in the Summer Capital’s annual showcase, the Baguio City launched Monday the 2012 Panagbenga.
True to next year’s festival theme, “Community convergence for a sustainable tourism growth,” officials of the city led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFO) led by chairman, and Baguio Country Club’s top honcho Anthony de Leon unveiled its new logo.
The logo features five ‘individuals’ colored differently - red, green, orange, violet and blue – symbolizing different sectors coming together to make the festival a success.
“The Panagbenga reflects what we are as a people. It epitomizes what we have become and can become if we are united,” Domogan said.
The mayor said tourism is the fastest way to propel the city’s economy. “But more than our economy, the Panagbenga must be a source of pride for all of us.”
Domogan likened the different sectors in the community to the different colors of the rose, representing the virtues of friendship, purity, loyalty and love. “We all part of God’s grand design. We are a human Panagbenga. Let us continue to be kind to each other.”
Both de Leon and BFFFI co-chair Freddie Alquiros promised innovations to next year’s revelry. As such, The Baguio Cultural Society headed by Laurel Bangaoet and University of the Cordillera’s vice president for corporate communications Engineer Aloysius Mapalo were brought in to help improve the grand street-dancing parade.
One of the major changes to the 2012 Panagbenga is the open category for the street-dance competition. “We are enjoining the participation of the different provinces in the region,” Mapalo said, adding guidelines for the contest prescribes songs and chants in the vernacular.
Mapalo added that since the competition is already open to all sectors, stricter rules will be imposed to provide a distinct cultural character to the parade.
But Mapalo assured elementary schools will have their own category and will compete for the prized plum during the opening parade scheduled February 1.
He also revealed another highlight of the festival will be a fiesta on February 12.
Residents look forward to regular activities of the festival, including the Market Encounter, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom, and Session Road in Bloom.
A push for tourism
Both the City Government and the BFFFI are hoping for increased tourist arrivals after experiencing a slight slump in the industry after twin typhoons battered the city badly during the past two months.
“I am confident Panagbenga will once again help the city bounce back as it has done in the past. In 2009, we lost [the hosting of] the Ad Congress because of ‘Pepeng’ but Panagbenga helped us get back on our feet in 2010. Panagbenga always sets the tone of tourist arrivals in the city,” Alquiros said.
The city’s consultant on tourist promotions also said the city must pride itself in having the most orderly festival in the country. “This is the reason why tourists keep coming back to the city during the Panagbenga because here they are not afraid to be out on the streets unlike during the Sinulog [in Cebu] and Dinagyang [in Iloilo].”
This even as Alquiros admitted the BFFFI will have to work on a smaller budget citing corporate sponsors are tightening their belts. “It takes P6.5 million to P8 million to run the whole festival and so we are mulling opening the Market Encounter earlier to be able to generate more income to fund the different activities.”
Domogan said he is more than confident Panagbenga 2012 will bring in the much-needed number of tourist arrivals. “The festival has proven itself not only in the country but worldwide. Panagbenga is much awaited by locals and foreigners and the festival will only continue to grow if come together as a community and work on its progress.” (May Anne Cacdac)
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