2 million tourists flocked to Baguio for flower festival


BAGUIO CITY  – Some 2 million foreign and domestic visitors flocked to the Summer Capital over the weekend to witness the highlights of the 20th edition of Panagbenga or the Baguio flower festival, particularly the grand streetdancing parade and the grand float parade, amidst the decreasing participation from streetdancers and float sponsors.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan admitted there are still improvements that must be done in the conduct of the festival highlights so that our visitors will be left guessing and be enticed to keep coming back to the city to witness surprises during the streetdancing and float parades.

“We will continue to consult with streetdancing exper5ts for us to be able to get their recommendations on how to continuously improve the presentations for our visitors to keep watching every flower festival,” Domogan stressed.

Based on the data obtained for this year’s crowd, only around 700,000 visitors came to witness the grand streetdancing parade while more than 1.3 million flocked to the city to witness the beautifully decorated floats that were paraded along the city’s central business district.

Domogan claimed the reduction in the entries to the floats to only 16 this year excluding the 3 non-competing floats was due to the skyrocketing prices of local and imported flowers aggravated by the belt-tightening measures of corporations.

In order to be able to make a competitive float, government agencies and corporations need a minimum budget of P500,000.

Freddie Alquiroz, co-chairman of the Panagbenga executive committee, said there is a need to convince the different secondary and tertiary schools in the city and neighboring towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay to actively participate in the grand streetdancing competition so that spectators will be able to witness more sterling and dynamic performances that will keep the festival spirit alive.

He added organizers will try to invite outside performers who will showcase their streetdancing prowess in the open category so that more visitors will be empowered to keep coming up to the city during the flower festival because there will be something new for them to witness.

Many observers raised concern over the decreasing number of participating schools in the streetdancing parade and the deteriorating quality of their performances that could greatly affect the infloux of visitors to the city in the coming years. This year, only four contingents joined the secondary category of the streetdancing parade while only three entries were able to join the open category.

Alquiroz said the Panagbenga executive committee will try to study all the findings and recommendations of the public on how the activities were conducted this year so that it will serve as a basis on how to improve the staging of the event  next year, especially that it was able to earn its title as one of the best festivals in the country over the past several years.

Last year, organizers reported a total of 1.7 million visitors flocked to the city to witness the grand streetdancing parade and grand float parade, both major highlights of the annual flower festival.

Alquiroz is optimistic that by next year, the beg names in the television and telecommunication industries will be able to bring back their floats and their movie stars since people missed the fun provided by the entertainers and the network war along the parade route.

He added organizers are also thinking of creating categories in the float parade, specifically the medium float competition, so that companies and agencies with lesser budget will still be able to compete by being able to present a smaller but better decorated float so that more people will be enticed to stay and witness various types of floats to be paraded in future staging of the festival.

Domogan urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) to bring back its subsidy for the participation of visiting streetdancing contingents in the different festivals in order to encourage streetdancing contingents from different parts of the Northern and Central Luzon area to join the flower festival and showcase their unique performances for the appreciation of the visitors and local residents.

He disclosed since the agency scrapped the subsidy for transportation and accommodation, the number of participating streetdancers rapidly declined making the grand streetdancing parade an all-local show.

By Dexter A. See