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2 million visitors expected for Panagbenga 2018

In Photo: A photo from last year’s Panagbenga Festival

ABOUT 2 million tourists are projected to ascend to Baguio City this month as the city celebrates its annual Panagbenga Flower Festival, which was launched on February 1.

This was disclosed by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI), which assured visitors that the city is ready for them. In a news statement, BFFFI Cochairman Freddie Alquiros expressed confidence that Baguio is well-equipped for the upcoming festivities, especially in the aspects of accommodations, water and power, security and traffic.

“Water and power have been addressed in the past, and thus, operations have normalized without any interruptions. Moving around Baguio has improved due to new routes that have been studied and adopted. We have the usual cooperation of the different armed forces and the Philippine National Police for everyone’s safety,” he added.

Last year visitors to the city reached about 1.6 million during the monthlong celebration.

The Panagbenga Flower Festival, an annual fiesta anticipated by locals and travelers alike, was launched last Saturday with a Drum and Lyre Parade participated by elementary students of the area. The highlights of the flower festival will be the much-anticipated Grand Street Dance Parade and the Grand Float Parade, to be held on February 24 and  25, respectively.

For the entire month of February, Burnham Park will play host to the Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition, a landscape and flower competition, alongside an open
market offering the best in art pieces, handicraft, food and souvenirs.

“Festival mainstays, such as the Panagbenga Cultural Shows, Caravan with the Stars, Session Road in Bloom, Open Kite Flying, Open Golf, Floral Arrangements and Landscaping Competitions are likewise scheduled throughout the weeks ahead,” BFFFI Chief of Staff Evangeline Payno shared.

For her part, Department of Tourisms Regional Director for the Cordilleras Venus Tan noted how Baguio has become a viable staycation destination for family and friends alike. “There are several happenings for the month, but people should also not miss out on the various sights and yearlong activities for all ages.”

Respected hoteliers like Baguio Country Club General Manager Antony de Leon and The Manor at Camp John Hay GM Ramon Cabrera both pointed out an increase in refurbished and brand-new properties and rooms in the city, covering all types of budgets.

As for food, which forms an important component of the festival experience, Mitos Benitez-Yñiguez and her son Jose, operators of the globally renowned Hill Station group of restaurants, said the tourism boom in the city has brought about a multitude of dining choices.

Henry Dictaan, area manager of the Filipino food chain Gilligan’s Restaurant, reveals that they have requested additional orders of meats, vegetables and fruits, and have outsourced additional staff from neighboring branches to prepare for the influx of visitors during the festival.

“The participation of sponsors, the private sector, different government agencies, schools, universities, Baguio-based foreign communities and the people of Baguio for volunteerism are at an all time high,” Alquiros enthused.

Baguio has seen a resurgence in tourism with the opening of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, which cuts the travel time from Manila through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, by almost half. From close to six to eight hours in the past, residents in Metro Manila can now travel to Baguio in three hours.

 

Image credits: BFFFI

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