BAGUIO CITY – The passage of an ordinance institutionalizing the annual conduct of the Panagbenga, popularly known as the Baguio flower festival, will be the ultimate solution to the perennial conflicts among some interest groups and the organizers in the staging of some of the income-generating activities of the month-long festivities, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said here recently.
“It is always easier said than done,” was Domogan’s reaction to the remarks of some local legislators on the failure of the local government and the |Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) to strictly implement the provisions of Ordinance No. 21, series of 2019 that could have prevented the Liga ng mga Barangay from imposing their desire to operate a portion of the week-long Session Road in Bloom (SRB), one of the traditional events of the festival.
The local chief executive underscored that by institutionalizing the annual conduct of the Panagbenga through an approved local legislation, the roles of all involved stakeholders will be clearly defined aside from the fact that the closure of roads to pave the way for the traditional parades and other activities that will use some roads will be put in place in the measure so that organizers will not be annually going to the local legislative body and appealing for closure of roads, among other matters needed for the successful staging of the various activities of the festival.
The Panagbenga was founded by the late Lawyer Damaso Bangaoet in 1995 purposely to have a major crowd-drawing event during the lean tourism months and help sustain the identity of Baguio city as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country. For the initial years of the staging of the festival, it was the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC) that bankrolled the conduct of the activities lined up for the festival.
Subsequently, the local government took over the lead role in the conduct of the annual flower festival considering the continuous growth of the festival.
However, Resolution No. 294, series of 2005 returned the lead role in the conduct of the Panagbenga to the BFFFI after the conflict between former city officials and the BFFFI in the handling of some of the major events of the festival that nearly caused their cancellation the previous year.
Domogan pointed out it is still important to maintain that the Panagbenga as a government-led and community-supported crowd-drawing event with stakeholders playing key roles in the conduct of different events lined up for the celebration that is why the BFFFI always goes out of its way to resolve whatever conflicts that arise in the preparations.
Some proposed ordinances are now pending in the local legislative body for the institutionalization of the Panagbenga that trace back several years ago but the same has not been officially acted upon for still unknown reasons.
Panagbenga is the only festival in the country included in the elite list of festivals in the world of the International Festival Association .
Domogan added that the people of Baguio remain proud to be part of what had been described by both foreign and local tourists and local and international media practitioners as the most orderly festival and disciplined crowd.
By Dexter A. See
Banner photo by Bong Cayabyab