February 29, 2024

City officials have admitted there were some lapses in the conduct of the Christmas in Baguio opening event, which coincided with the reopening of the night market in the city last Dec. 1.

City Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Alec Mapalo said they did not expect the huge turnout of people who went to see the activities for the lighting of the Christmas tree atop Session Road, which started with a simple program at the Malcolm Square with few audience.

“Our expectations exceeded what we have planned for. We emphasized they can join us virtually through live stream. It turned out there were more people suddenly who wanted to go out. It’s a learning experience for us, to see how we will be able to manage better the next time,” Mapalo said.

He said Mayor Benjamin Magalong saw the converging of people on their way up Session Road and instructed several times to have it announced to people to observe physical distancing, and did not allow the program to start until the crowd complied.

Personnel of the Baguio City Police Office were also on ground to see that the minimum health protocols were followed.

“And they followed and they spread outward, although there were some who still did not follow. From a vantage point, we saw that people followed,” Mapalo said.

He said such events are aimed as a part of the healing process for the people who are already stressed out with the Covid-19 situation and want to see a sense of normalcy, which the city was able to provide on Dec. 1.

“We will have to admit there are some lapses in the implementation (of the event) but everything is happening for the first time. There is no perfect execution, but we can only do better next time. We will learn from the experience and we will adapt, we will adjust and that’s what we are looking at for the next activities,” Mapalo said.

He added for the rest of month, there will be not a lot of events of such magnitude, but only small family gatherings.

On Dec. 25, the city is planning a drone live show, which is something that can be seen anywhere and will not require one to crowd in one location. If there will be others already outside, they also do not have to converge to view the show. 

He said they are also planning how to hold the New Year countdown, which has been a traditional yearend event. – Hanna C. Lacsamana