February 23, 2024

The city council, through Resolution 10-2024, has requested the City Tourism and Special Events Division of City Administrator’s Office (CTSE) and the City Environment and Parks Management Office to submit a complete and consolidated report on the conduct of the Christmas Fair at the Rose Garden, Burnham Park.

The Christmas Fair, also known as Christmas Market, was one of the major activities lined up for the city’s annual 40-day yuletide celebration.

The annual event was conceptualized and realized by the Baguio Tourism Council which consists of various stakeholders of the city’s tourism sector. The CTSE-Cadmo serves as the executive arm of the city government and overall festival coordinator.

Other government offices directed to extend support in the conduct of the event are Cepmo, General Services Office, Baguio City Police Office, Baguio Fire Department, City Buildings and Architecture Office, and City Engineering Office, among others.

In the resolution, the city council indicated the report should incorporate the project proposal for the Christmas fair (if any), basis or justification of its conduct, accounting of collections, financial reports, and recommendations, among others.

During the city council’s regular session on Dec. 4, 2023, City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo clarified the installation of the 36 chalets for the European-themed Christmas Fair was not shouldered by the city government. Instead, it was at the expense of the exhibitors who were required to pay a fee ranging from P100,000 to P150,000. 

Aside from the construction cost of the chalets, Mapalo said the collection amounting to P4.4 million from the 36 exhibitors would cover other operational and incidental expenses such as the processing of the chalets’ mandatory special permits, production costs of the performances, and secretarial expenses. The projected total cost for the entire event was P4.47M, he said. 

“For organizers, it’s simply break-even just to support the entire activity,” Mapalo stated.

Meanwhile, Councilor Mylen Yaranon questioned the sale of merchandise and products during the event, stressing the city council had not sanctioned it and that there is a local law prohibiting the conduct of business within public parks.

Councilor Peter Fianza expressed that “public parks are beyond the commerce of man” and proposed that such activity be studied by the City Legal Office.

It can be remembered that the city council scrutinized the launching of the first Christmas Fair at Rose Garden in 2019 following reports of violations of the 1994 Trade Fair Ordinance and observations that the conduct of the supposed European-inspired Christmas Fair had deviated from the original plan. – Jordan G. Habbiling