BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 24) — Seven days before the actual opening Friday next week, the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFI) executive committee guaranteed the media that the 13th Panagbenga will not be as politicized as the previous year.
“We will not allow that kind of distraction during the parade,” said Anthony de Leon, chairperson of the Baguio Flower Festival Executive committee referring to a certain politician who road in a helicopter in distributing campaign fliers during the float parade.
“We want the people to focus on the parade and not on the choppers hovering around,” he added.
There is an emerging concern that this year’s Panagbenga will again be used by some politicians campaigning to forward their political interests.
Aside from boosting the city’s economy, the annual Panagbenga is known as the perfect campaign ground for politicians, as a large crowd is expected to come in and join the festivities.
Also, the alleged rift among the local government and the private sector concerning Panagbenga funds also led to a polarized festival in the past.
Co-chair Freddie Alquiros clarified that this year’s Panagbenga is predominantly a private-sector led event with government support in the background.
“The local government has unanimously left it up to the private sector with their support to run the Panagbenga in their behalf. “Walang masyadong politikang involved dito, (There is no politics involved here) this is purely the foundation running it,” Alquiros said. “Who are going to make sure to use the little resources we have properly and give it back to the people,” he added.
Alquiros also emphasized that “making a better” Panagbenga does not merely rely on the BFFI but is still a community effort.
The forthcoming Panagbenga carries the theme “Celebrating 13 years of Caring” and is packed with activities, along with the usual flower-themed activities such as Market Encounter, Drum and lyre competitions, grand floral parade, float parade, and the week-long “Session Road in Bloom.”
New events to look out for are: Synchronized Fire Works Display which will take place in three key points throughout Baguio such as Melvin Jones, SM City, Session Road and the Market Encounter at Jose Abad Santos Drive in Burnham Park; and the Barangay Fluvial parade will replace the Barangay Beautification Contest, according to organizers. # Danica Sophia E. Oliveros for NORDIS