BAGUIO CITY – Officials of the visiting Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation commended its counterpart, the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI), for its ability to stage a month-long festival like the Panagbenga that gained international recognition despite the meagre resources available for the said purpose.
Dr. Urminico Baronda, a member of the organizing committee of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, brought to the attention of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who also chairs the BFFFI, the group’s appreciation in the way their counterpart was able to run the activities of the flower festival in a manner that earned for Baguio City various national, regional and international recognitions even with a limited budget to bankroll the events.
For the staging of the annual Ati-atihan Festival, Baronda informed the local chief executive that the foundation spends P40 million annually for their week-long festivities with P15 million coming subsidised by the Iloilo City government and P25 million jointly raised by the foundation and the parish church.
The Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation brought to the city a 60-person delegation to perform as a guest contingent during the grand streetdancing parade and field demonstration, one of the major highlights of the Panagbenga held Saturday at the Baguio Athletic Bowl.
“The revelation of our counterparts from the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation should serve as a wakeup call for us to look for other possibilities of further improving the conduct of the Panagbenga events in such magnitude as they are encouraging us to sustain the improvement of the overall handling and execution of the events of our festival,” Domogan stressed.
In the case of the BFFFI, he disclosed that the foundation spends between P16 to P17 million for the annual staging of the month-long festivities with only P4 million from the local government as subsidy which is for the cash prizes and subsidies to landscapers and performers in the streetdancing competition while the remaining balance is either sourced through sponsorships and the proceeds of the month-long Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition and the week-long Session Road in Bloom.
He explained that the subsidy from the city government does not go to the foundation but it is the city that disburses the funds to the declared winners of the different events and the beneficiaries of the subsidies for their participation in the landscaping competition and the streetdancing parade.
Panagbenga is the only festival in the country listed with the International Festival Association.
Domogan added the people of Baguio remain proud as 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. For over a decade now, the subsidy provided by the local government to the BFFFI was never increased because of the belief of some local legislators that the income being generated by the foundation through solicitations and the various income-generating events of the Panagbenga will be sufficient in bankrolling the various events of the festival. By Dexter A. See