Landscaping now a lucrative business in Baguio

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BAGUIO CITY – Landscaping and float-aming was previously confined to a few local residents who embraced the job as seasonal even with the emergence of the Panagbenga or Baguio flower festival in the mid-1990s.

For the past several years, landscaping and float-making has now become a lucrative business by those in the local flower industry and has become one of the major sources of income for local residents, especially during the conduct of the grand float parade, one of the major highlights of the festival that is the most frequented by foreign and domestic visitors wanting to spend a well-deserved break in the city.

Some 20 to 30 floats which are entries of corporate sponsors, government agencies, local governments among others are paraded from the rutonda of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at Upper Session road up to the Baguio Athletic Bowl for hundreds of thousands of spectators along the 5-kilometer parade route for public viewing. While in display at the ground, the public is given the chance to take photos and have a closer glimpse of the flower-inspired floats making the grand float parade a must see event of the month-long festivities.

For this year, some 24 floats, 16 big floats and 8 small floats, will be paraded along the city’s central business district on Sunday, February 28, 2016, to showcase the world-class works of local landscapers who painstakingly worked on the preferred concepts of corporate sponsors joining the grand float parade annually.

The flower-inspired parade will end up at the Melvin Jones grandstand where the public will be again given the chance to have a closer look at the floats which are mostly composed of fresh flowers from local cutflower producers from the nearby municipalities of La Trinidad, Tuba and Itogon towns in Benguet.

Rose Cuilan, a member of the Landscapers Society of Baguio and Benguet, said the local cutflower industry and the local landscapers and float makers have greatly benefited from the sustained conduct of the flower festival.

Now on its 21st edition and after being listed in the elite International Festival Association, Cuilan said the vibrance of the local cutflower industry will continue to be realized and many farmers will be enticed to plant more cutflowers in order to be able to supply the needs of big and small corporations wanting to join the float parade.

From a small group, Cuilan revealed that their group has a membership of 50 landscapers distributed in the nearby towns of La Trinidad, Tuba and Itogon allowing them to attend to an even bigger number of floats wanting to join the float parade in the future.

“Our group is grateful to those who founded the Panagbenga because it gave vibrance to the local cutflower industry and float making as an alternative source of income for our members, especially during this time of the year. We grew with the Panagbenga and we are happy to witness the magnitude of the growth of our festival for the sustained growth of our local tourism industry,” Cuilan stressed.

She cited this year also marked a remarkable growth in the number of participants to the landscaping contest within the month-long market encounter at the Burnham Lake Drive since from the usual six to eight participants, it grew to fourteen landscapers which occupied a huge portion of the road for the display of their vertical gardens, carpet of flowers and best design pieces.

“We believe the festival will go a long way if it will be properly managed by professionals who are familiar with the industry. We should allow our festival to further grow and be one of the best festivals in the world,” she said.

For his part, Romeo Chua, also a landscaper and a member of the Panagbenga Judging Committee, said the process in making floats and landscaping works is tedious as it takes them two months for the planning stage, fifteen days for the construction, 12 days for the designing and 3 days for the putting in place of fresh flower decorations in a float.

He claimed landscapers and float makers rely on the concept of float participants that is why it takes a design to be put to work considering the need of the proposed designs to be approved.

Chua said this year’s 10-member board of judges is composed of international calibre individuals who are known in the international floral industry since there is a need to put to a higher level the kind of judging in a festival that has become one of those listed in the international festival association.

It was learned that in order to put a small flaot, a corporation, group, individual or agency needs at least P300,000 for a Volkswagen-type float while big floats cost around P500,0000 to P600,000.

The conduct of the grand float parade which is one of the major highlights of the flower festival was designed to showcase the variety of flowers being grown in the locality and nearby towns of Benguet and it was timed right during the month where the said flowers blossom, thus, the festival was named Panagebenga, which is the Kankana-ey term for blossoming of flowers.

By Dexter A. See

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