P11 million to bankroll 20th edition of Panagbenga


BAGUIO CITY – At least P11 million will be infused by the city government and organizers to bankroll the conduct of the 20th edition of the 5-week Panagbenga from February 1 to March 8 this year.

Anthony de Leon, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) and general manager of the Baguio Country Club (BCC), said P4 million will be allocated by the city government in its 2015 budget to shoulder the cash prizes of the different competitions that were lined up for the festival while the P7 million will be raised by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) from corporate sponsors and proceeds from income-generating events of the festival, particularly the month-long market encounter dubbed “Baguio Blooms” to be held at the Burnham lake drive and the week-long Session road in Bloom.

“We operate on a meagre budget compared to the numerous event lined up for this year’s staging of the festival. Our budget is much less compared to the expenditures of other local governments in the conduct of their own festivals such as the Ati0atihan in Iloilo and the Sinulog festival in Cebu,” de Leon stressed.

He pointed out the budget being spent by the organizers is conservative compared to the magnitude of the activities to be held, thus the BFFFI is unrelenting in its bid to look for other corporate sponsors in order to ensure the successful conduct of the 20th edition of the festival.

According to him, the net income of the month-long market encounter and the week-long Session road in Bloom form part of the internally generated funds that will be used to shoulder the expenses to be incurred in the conduct of the festival.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said the P4 million being appropriated by the city government will not be released to the foundation but it will be released to the winners of the different contests that were lined up for the festival pursuant to existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

He cited that it is still best that the festival will be government-led and community supported because it will strengthen the relationship between the local government and its partners in the private sector.

“We have to continue strengthening our working relationship and set an example on how government and the private sector could work hand in hand for the successful staging of crowd drawing events in their respective areas of jurisdiction,” Domogan said.

Panagbenga is the country’s longest running festival because the activities that are lined up are spread for over five weeks now compared to the other crow drawing events in the different parts of the country which are scheduled for at least one week.

De Leon assured critics of the organizers that the books of the foundation are always open for scrutiny and that the foundation religiously submits to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) its annual financial report pursuant to the activities that it had undertaken for the preceding year.

Domogan claimed those who are working for the successful staging of the festival are doing it on a voluntary basis and they do not receive any honorarium from the foundation as they do their service for the upliftment of the local tourism industry.

By Dexter A. See