December 8, 2022

After successfully bringing back Panagbenga Festival this year, organizers and the city government of Baguio are confident of being able to mount the festival complete with the crowd-drawing events next year.
City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said if the city sustains its current Covid-19 alert level status with low to zero cases and maintain discipline in observing health protocols, there is no doubt about allowing crowd-drawing events soon, particularly the Panagbenga’s annual grand street dancing and float parades.
Dela Peña said the city is fortunate to have the lessons learned when the Delta variant of the Covid-19 hit, which became handy in managing another case surge driven by the Omicron variant late last year.
“We are now harvesting the fruits of our labor. We follow the guidelines, hindi tayo naging pabaya. I think now we can bring back all the crowd-drawing activities if our situation remains the same,” dela Peña said.
He said students are now back to face-to-face classes, though limited, and to date more than 30 schools in the city have been accredited and ready to reopen in-person classes due to the maintained low cases since the surge made its downward trend towards the end of February.
Freddie Alquiros, Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. president, said the key to bringing back the glory of Panagbenga through the grand parades is students being allowed back to face-to-face classes.
“The schools are the most important part. To be able to mount the street dancing parade again, we need the schools to be on face-to-face classes. We need the schools to be able to prepare from November to February, and they really prepare in a grand way,” Alquiros said.
He said he is confident the city can already stage the street dancing parade because schools were able to organize cultural presentations for the Panagbenga’s opening last March 6, and many schools participated in this year’s cultural dance competitions even when some of them were not yet having face-to-face classes.
“They really wanted to join. They were able to mount their dance and their participation inspite of the fact that they are not going to face-to-face classes. They organized fantastic performances. You know everybody is really raring to go, just waiting for the cue from local authorities,” Alquiros said.
To be able to mount the grand float parade, he said there is a need for the economy to bounce back, so that companies and non-government organizations which are the ones joining the parade could spend for their floats.
“A big part of the float parade is the corporations that spend for their floats which as we know are expensive. It’s difficult to mount a float parade with only five or six floats and all of which probably non-competing. If we can mount something like 12 competitors for the big float category and about another 10 for small floats, we are good for next year,” Alquiros said.
He said sponsors will come in as the festival generates foot traffic or the number of people that would warrant companies to spend for marketing and promotions.
Alquiros has assured despite the losses it incurred from the cancellation of the festival in the past two years and after staging the event without the counterpart from the city government starting in 2020, the BFFFI is prepared to bankroll the funds needed to make sure Panagbenga will continue in the upcoming years.
“We are not really starting from square one. We are three steps backward but we will start moving forward. It cannot be bouncing back exactly like before, but we at the foundation have enough to carry us through,” Alquiros said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana