SESSION ROAD IN BLOOM FIASCO

Session Road in Bloom is one of the traditional events of the annual conduct of Panagbenga or the Baguio flower festival. Session Road, the city’s main thoroughfare, will be totally closed to vehicular traffic to pave the way for its conversion into a promenade area for residents and visitors alike to patronize the presence of sidewalk cafes and stalls that display handicrafts, one town, one product (OTOP) of participating local governments, and flower-inspired products. The Session Road in Bloom is one of the most attended event of the month-long festivities because of week-long entertainments provided by local and national artists being tapped by the sponsors and organizers to perform for the sustained promotion of the city’s major crowd drawing event every February to March.

Through the years, the annual conduct of the Session Road in Bloom which immediately pens right after the two major Panagbenga events, the grand streetdancing parade and the grand float parade, has been orderly and systematically done with the assistance of the expertise of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) which serves as the private arm of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) in the handling of the week-long event considering the expertise of the members in the conduct of such events to entice people to visit what will be in store for them in the cafes and exhibit areas along the stretch of the road.

Despite being an institutionalized event of the annual Panagbenga, festival organizers still need to go to the local legislative body to request the closure of the roads that will be used for the events, including the closure of Session Road for the conduct of the week-long activities. Most of the time, the organizers have a difficult time getting the approval of local legislators for the closure of the roads for various excuses being raised by some local legislators who seem  to be always insinuating something. After the conduct of several close door meetings, the request of closure of roads will eventually be approved with those vocal against it voting for the closure of roads that will be used for the flower festival events.

The worst thing that happened in this year’s Session Road in Bloom is that there are already three organizers of the week-long event, the HRAB, the Liga ng mga Barangay and the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Baguio City chapter. HRAB will manage the SRB from the top of Session Road up to its junction with Mabini St., the Liga will take care of the trade fair in the arterial roads like Assumption road, Calderon St. and Perfecto St., while the PCL will manage the stalls from the junction of Mabini St. up to the foot of the main road. Previously, the liga has been managing the stalls along Perfecto St. but because of its desire for more funds that are not being actually audited, before its area had been repeatedly expanded through the years.

The people had spoken that the conduct of this year’s Session road in Bloom and Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibitions is far more corrupt compared to the previous ones. We cannot blame ordinary observers to be coming out with their frank and practical observations because of the obvious actuations of most of our city officials who seem not to be satisfied with their already high salaries. There has been huge money that allegedly changed hands before the ordinance for the closure of roads to be used for Panagbenga was actually acted upon. Now, our people can now compare which among the existing organizers possess the qualifications to effectively and efficiently manage a good and attractive trade fair that will wow the residents and visitors.

We have been eavesdropping to people walking around town and many of them appreciate the way HRAB was able to arrange the stalls in a manner which is convenient to those who have visited the area. The cleanliness in  the portion of the HRAB is also well maintained because of the presence of volunteers plus the fact that the stallholders are aware of the city’s policy on cleanliness. On the other hand, the stalls in the PCL and Liga sections are obviously in disarray. The display areas are filled with imitations and cheap products that make their areas similar to a ‘tiange’ which defeats the purpose of the Session road in Bloom. The PCL and Liga officers should be ashamed about the comparisons being made by no less than the ordinary people to the state of the three trade fair areas along Session road being managed by three different entities. The HRAB area was able to pass the standards of our citizens on how to decently do an exhibit while the PCL and Liga sections have worst than a wet market place.

It is high time for most of our city officials to rethink their position on the matter to prevent the Session road in Bloom from going to the dogs. The PCL and Liga have no actual expertise in the handling of such events because what the groups are doing is that they pass on the concession to their anointed trade fair organizers who will take care of everything, including their alleged shares, despite the mediocre situation in their designated areas since what they are after is the monetary benefit that they will derive from it for fund raising purposes as elections is just around the corner.

Let us not compromise the good things that had been done in the Session Road in Bloom by coming out with competitors that cannot even match the decency, cleanliness and orderliness from the PNB area up to the top of Session Road. Let us try to do justice for the city and not the city doing justice to us always.

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