By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — After nearly two decades of staging of the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival, critics still see no clear benefits for the city and continue to urge the city government to manage the festival instead of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc (BFFI).
But the BFFI maintains that Panagbenga has helped boost the city’s economy and has grown through the years.
Councilor Leandro Yangot in his privilege speech at the city council session last May urged the city government to manage the Panagbenga saying that the city is not getting any share from the profit generated in the said festival.
Yangot said an estimated P9.8M was collected from the rentals of 245 stalls at the Market Encounter and around P6.8M from the Session road in Bloom from 220 stalls. He added that some P19.4M was collected at the Athletic Bowl Trade Fair excluding the stall during the Street Dancing and Float parades. He also alleged that there still are unaccounted sponsorships for Panagbenga.
Yangot said the city government did not get any share from the profit generated from the 2014 staging of the Panagbenga and even shelled out P4M for prizes in the different competitons.
Federico Alquiros, co-chair of the BFFI, in a press conference last week said they have invested roughly P104M just for the running of the festival for the past 19 years.
He shared that for this year alone, P258,305 was paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and P1,043,758.80 was paid to the City Treasurer for the Market Encounter and Session Road in Bloom activities.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan credited the increase in business tax collection of the city to the Panagbenga. He said that in 1992 the city was collecting around P13M to P15M. He pointed out that when Panagbenga started the city business tax collection rose to P50M and is now at P200M.
Domogan also clarified that the P4M from the city coffers covers for prices in the street dancing and drum and lyre competitions.
Domogan also stressed that it is not right for the city to manage the Panagbenga citing the problematic staging of the festival in 2005 under the management of the city government. He reiterated that the city council passed a resolution returning the management of the festival to the BFFI after learning from the 2005 experience.
Lawyer Damaso Bangaoet, one of the pioneers of the Panagbenga said when they started in 1996 they only had P1M to spend for the festival but they were able to pull it off because of volunteers and donations. He said the funds then came from the Bases Convertion and Development Authority and the John Hay Poro Point Council.
“The idea then was not to let these companies run the event forever. We want to transform it into a community effort and the local government is part of the community,” he stressed.
Bangaoet reiterated that the idea behind staging the Panagbenga was for the community to come together to enjoy and at the same time boost the city’s local economy.
“We have come so far. The Panagbenga has grown from the initial funds of P1M is now P104M…Let us settle this once and for all. Let us come together, talk and decide what we really want to do with our Baguio Flower Festival,” he stressed.
Bangaoet is saddened but sees the recent bout between Yangot and the BFFI as another challenge that will help improve and develop further the Panagbenga.
Next year would be the 20th staging of Panagbenga. #nordis.net