DOT on Panagbenga 2023: “What a beautiful return”
Tourism Sec. Christina Garcia-Frasco has commended the people of Baguio led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong for nurturing the Baguio Flower Festival as the annual city festivity made a powerful comeback after three years of hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Baguio is back. And what a beautiful return. (The Panagbenga) is a true testament to the creativity and skill of our local communities and definitely a must-see to anyone coming to Baguio in February. This festival also promotes eco-tourism and sustainable practices emphasizing the importance of preserving the natural beauty of this region for future generations to enjoy,” Frasco said during the program following the grand float parade on Feb. 26 as guest of honor and speaker.
Frasco said the vigor with which Baguio people develop the city as community, uniting it to celebrate their culture and tradition, reflects their undying passion to promote Baguio as a haven for arts and culture.
“Without question, the Panagbenga, which started as a community endeavor, has now evolved into a world-class celebration. A major tourism driver in Northern Luzon, Panagbenga reflects a season of blooming and since its inception in 1996 it has played a significant role in both the local and national tourism development in this city and our country,” she said.
Frasco said Panagbenga must continue to remain as the celebration of the season of blooming and rebirth from the pandemic.
“This festival inspires us that despite the dark times await a beautiful and colourful reckoning. We draw motivation from this festival to pursue more activities to promote the best of the Filipino culture. More than anything else, the blooming of the flowers here in Baguio represents the blooming of hope post-pandemic for indeed what we can expect especially in the tourism industry is not only recovery of what has been lost but to add to it to exceed our pre-pandemic numbers because our Philippines deserves nothing less,” she said.
She said festivals like the Panagbenga are an important tool in fostering tourism development as they attract a large number of visitors to the city and contribute massively to the local economy and that Baguio City, with all its colors, people, tradition, culture, history, and heritage combined indeed has made and continue to make a lasting imprint on visitors’ memories and build a positive image of the city and our country.
Frasco added Baguio City can expect a whole of government approach in Department of Tourism’s support for the development of tourism of Baguio and the rest of the regions of the country.
She said as Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has identified tourism as a priority under his administration, the DOT has launched programs in line with his vision for the tourism transformation for the Philippines.
For Baguio, the establishment of a tourist rest area along Kennon Road in partnership with the city government and Tourism Infrastructure and Economic Zone Authority which will feature an information center, state of the art restrooms for tourists, and a pasalubong center that will provide livelihood for local enterprises.
DOT also supported the reopening of the Loakan Airport with the launch of Baguio-Cebu and vice versa flights last December by Philippine Airlines.
“You can rest assured that we will continue to work together with your city government to ensure that the people of Baguio and this region feel the benefits of tourism especially domestic tourism,” Frasco said.
She also lauded the city as it has become a model city in the nation’s pandemic response and especially post-pandemic, having shown the Philippines and the world how innovation as well as close community development and cooperation can truly make for a sustainable smart city.
Sen. Imee Marcos, who also graced the festival among other national government officials, observed things are indeed looking up for Baguio, as it is clear how well-managed the city has become from the eased traffic through the pioneering and groundbreaking Smart mobility command center.
“It is very clear that the tourists are back. It is clear that the sunshine and the cool air are now back.Indeed, Baguio City is back, back in business, back to welcome all tourists,” Marcos said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana