BAGUIO CITY – Well known personalities in professional basketball and in the entertainment industry stole the limelight from the network war among giant television networks and the different telecommunication companies during the grand float parade, one of the major highlights of this year’s Panagbenga or the Baguio flower festival Sunday.
Members of the NLEX Road Warriors, Asi Taulava, Enrico Villanueva, Jonas Villanueva, Aldrich Ramos, KG Canieleta and Harold Arboleda, together with coaches Boyet Fernandez and Jojo Lastimosa, joined executives of the Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) as they paraded with their beautifully decorated NLEX float along the 5-kilomete route from Upper Session road up to the Baguio Athletic Bowl.
Ms. Earth Air 2012 Stefanie Stefanowitz rode the float of Psalmstre being one of the official endorsers of the beauty products of the well-known company in order to add up to the cheers of the crowd along the parade route and those gathered at the Baguio Athletic Bowl where the public was given a chance to have pictures with the 13 competing floats.
Celebrities and spouses Oyoboy Sotto and Christine Hermosa also got the attention of the over 1.2 million local residents and visitors who were gathered along the city’s major streets to watch the new features of this year’s floats that focused much on the importance of preserving and protecting the environment and the unique culture of Cordilleras. The spouses rode the float of Satara Enterprises, one of the locators of the local Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
Capping the day’s excellent presentation of the floats was that of M. Lhuillier Financial Services where famous Filipino pop singer Oggie Alcacide and Ms. Earth 2014 titlist Jamie Deller rode which was given thunderous cheers from the parade’s starting point up to its finish.
Some 16 floats were presented by government and private entities in this year’s grand float parade to help continuously promote Panagbenga as one of the country’s longest running and well-attended crow drawing events. The floats of the City Government of Baguio and the Baguio Country Club and SM City Baguio, two Hall of Famers in the grand float parade, were considered non-competing floats during the said event.
Each of the floats was able to depict the importance of this year’s theme ‘Across 20 Years Blossoming Together’ through their creativity with the use of 90 percent flowers to help promote the city and he nearby Province of Benguet as a source of the country’s majority supply of flowers.
Foreign and local visitors were wowed by the unique and different presentations made by the float makers in order to project their company’s views on how to preserve and protect the environment and culture as well as empower the people to be responsible stewards of their environment for the benefit of the present and future generations.
Giant television networks ABS-CBN, GMA 7 and TV 5 and competing telecommunication companies Smart and Globe failed to field any float this year for the grand float parade because of budgetary constraints and the inadequate time to prepare their concept of what to present for this year’s festivities.
The float of the Manila Tollways Corporation (MNTC) was adjudged as the best float for this year while the floats of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and Jollibee Foods Corporation were tied in second place. The winning float will receive a cash prize of P200,000 while the two second placers will equally divide the sum of the prizes for second and third places.
For the past several years, the three television networks and the two telecommunication companies have been actively joining the float parade through their floats and their movie stars that served as major attractions during the highlights of the festivities.
Mark Lapid, general manager of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) general manager, cited the city government officials and the city’s private sector for being able to pool their resources and have a big magnitude of gathering like the flower festival that keeps the festive mood in the city for the benefit of local residents and visitors.
“We in TIEZA will continue to support the promotion of creative crowd drawing events like the Panagbenga so that foreign and local tourists will be enticed to frequently visit the city and help sustain the country’s overall tourism growth in terms of the movement of domestic tourists and the influx of foreigners,” Lapid stressed.
The Panagbenga was envisioned to be a major crowd drawing event in the city during the lean months where only a few visitors come up to the city during the early months of the year. It was coined from the Kankana-ey word for blossoming considering that February is the month of the blossoming of flowers that are produced in the nearby municipalities of La Trinidad, Tublay, Tuba, Itogon and Sablan.
By Dexter A. See