New schedule of Panagbenga highlights bared

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BAGUIO CITY – Organizers of the 25th edition of the Panagbenga, popularly known as the Baguio Flower Festival, recently released the new schedule of the conduct of the major highlights of this year’s festival that was earlier postponed due to the 2019 Novel Corona Virus (nCoV) scare that struck the world.

Based on the latest advisory from the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI), the private organizer of the annual crowd drawing event, the flower festival’s grand opening parade which was supposed to be held last February 21, 2020 was moved to March 21, 2020 to allow the prevailing panic mood among the people on the NCOVI scare to normalize and for health authorities to assess the country’s situation on the said disease.

Further, the grand streetdancing parade scheduled on February 29, 2020 will be moved to March 28, 2020 while the colorful grand float parade that was scheduled on March 1, 2020 will now be set on March 29, 2020.

On the other hand, the week-long Session Road in Bloom earlier set to be conducted on March 2-8, 2020 will now be done on March 30 to April 5, 2020 wherein the whole stretch of Session road, the city’s main thoroughfare will be closed to vehicular traffic to pave the way for its conversion into a virtual promenade area with sidewalks cafes and displays of assorted flower-inspired handicrafts from participating exhibitors.

Earlier, the local government agreed to extend the operation of the month-long Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition at the Baguio Convention Center grounds that started last February 1 and will end on March 8, 2020 for another month to allow the exhibitors to recover their investments in the said annual event.

However, other activities of the month-long Panagbenga will go on as scheduled except for the aforesaid events to allow prospective tourists to be able to reset their visit to the city in time for the staging of the highlights of this year’s flower festival.

The Panagbenga is the only festival in the country that was included in the elite list of festivals in the different parts of the world that form part of the International Festivals and Events Association considering that the same has been branded as the most organized festival with the most disciplined crowd, especially during the major events such as the grand streetddancing parade and the grand float parade.

Festival organizers admitted that prospective foreign visitors during the conduct of the festival highlights already cancelled their bookings in the different hotels in the city but they are keeping their fingers crossed that the influx of domestic tourists will help fill up the vacuum that was left by the cancellations of the supposed foreign visitors.

Organizers expressed confidence that the NCOVI scare will normalize in the coming weeks, especially when there will be no longer confirmed cases of the dreaded disease, so that the local tourism industry will be able to bounce back from the slump that it suffered at the height of the panic brought about by the presence of confirmed cases aside from the increasing number of persons under investigation for having contacts with the infected Chinese nationals.

By Dexter A. See
Illustration by Don Ray Ramos