February 6, 2023

The city council has allowed the month-long closure of the Juan Luna Drive at Burnham Park for the put-up of business stalls and landscape competition as part of the Panagbenga Festival 2023.

The council passed on Jan. 16 the ordinance that allows the closure of roads that will be used during the highlights of the festival, among which is the Juan Luna Drive for the Market Encounter, which also integrates the landscaping component of the Flower Festival.

Panagbenga Festival Policy and Program Review Committee Co-Chair Anthony de Leon said the Market Encounter, in which stalls are rented out to traders who sell various items for a month, will raise revenues that will augment funds for the other components of the Panagbenga Festival.

Among other events, De Leon said the revenues raised from the trade fair will be used as subsidies for schools that will send contingents to the street dancing parade, for participants to the landscaping competition, and prizes for winners in the float parade.

De Leon said there was need to raise funds for the Panagbenga Festival, set from Feb. 1 to March 5, as sponsors are hard to come by.

“It is difficult to get sponsors nowadays because even large companies are still recovering from their losses from the pandemic,” de Leon said.

The council approved the closure of Juan Luna Drive, the area covering the bike lane and the site for skateboarding, upon de Leon’s explanation that it is the most practical site to set up business stalls.

He said other sites like the Baguio Convention Center grounds where the 2020 Panagbenga Market Encounter was mounted “was not a worthwhile undertaking because foot traffic in the area was slow.”

He added closure of the road will not disrupt traffic flow because Juan Luna Drive is not being used by vehicles.

“Setting up the Market Encounter in the area surrounding the Skating Rink is also not good as it will invite unfavorable comments from the community as what we experienced before when people raised concerns about the destruction of the area’s natural landscape,” De Leon said.

He said the route of the bike lane will only be shortened and the concessionaires will not be displaced or deprived of their source of livelihood. – Jane B. Cadalig