BAGUIO CITY – Presidential Spokesperson Herminio ‘Harry’ L. Roque, Jr. commended local officials and the city’s private sector for the sustained success of the 23rd edition of Panagbenga, otherwise known as the Baguio Flower Festival for achieving its status as an internationally-recognized festival.
Speaking before the thousands of spectators and streetdancers during the opening of the Panagbenga here Thursday, Secretary Roque stated the President Rodrigo Duterte is supportive of the growth of crowd-drawing events around the country that promote the rich and unique culture and traditions of the Filipinos, like the flower festival.
He said the President is proud of the achievements of Panagbenga over the past two decades which had significantly contributed in establishing the identity of the city and the Cordillera as one of the prime tourist destinations in the country.
“Baguio will remain as a premier tourist destination in the country because of its unique weather condition coupled with the good state of the environment that contribute in the beautiful sceneries frequented by an increasing number of foreign and domestic visitors,” Secretary Roque stressed.
The Palace official claimed that Baguio has a special place in his heart because he considers himself a resident of the city and he is proud of the achievements of the local government and the private sector who continuously work together to make the local tourism industry grow to be one of the city’s major economic driver.
According to him, he will try his best to convince President Duterte to accept the invitation of the Panagbenga organizers to be the city’s premier guest during the staging of the highlights of the flower festival, the grand streetdancing parade on February 24 and the grand float parade on February 25.
Secretary Roque added that something must be done to help further improve the city’s state of environment, especially in the implementation of the government’s jeepney modernization program so jeepney operators and drivers should be open-minded on the matter as concerned government agencies are heeding their call for the staggered implementation of the program.
He claimed the Department of Transportation and Railways (DOTR) is also considering the recommendation of jeepney associations in Baguio and the Cordillera to review the designs of the electronic jeepneys that will be made available so that it will be able to climb the peculiar mountainous terrain in the highlands.
The Panagbenga has been envisioned by its founder, lawyer Damaso Bangaoet, to become the city’s crowd-drawing event to sustain visits to the city during lean tourism months that will lead to sustained business activity.
The Panagbenga project is a joint undertaking of the local government and the private sector through the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc., upholding the formidable partnership between the government and the private stakeholders in the staging of the events lined up for the month-long festivities.
By Dexter A. See