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Toned down Panagbenga postponed anew, faces uncertainty

The staging of the 26th Panagbenga or the Baguio Flower Festival faces yet another uncertainty as the city government at the executive committee decided this week to postpone the conduct of the toned down festivity this February.

During a meeting Friday, January 15, mayor Benjamin Magalong has come into agreement with the BFF executive committee to postpone the festivity as part of the measures of the city to guard its doors against the possible entry of the more contagious United Kingdom variant of the Coronavirus disease (Covid 19).

The city is also expecting the roll out of the Covid 19 vaccine after inking a deal with Astra-Zeneca for the purchase of 380,000 doses.

Before the year 2020 ended, the city government announced that it has approved in principle the conduct of limited events of the Panagbenga that is supposedly to start on February 1 and ends on March 7.

The decision was a bid to pave the way for the local tourism industry of the city. The month-long Panagbenga is one of the city’s top tourism drawers, but the crowd drawing float and street parades had been scrapped.

Magalong earlier said that the toned down festivity will include the landscaping competition among the schools and barangays and other similar activities that will not draw huge crowds.

Last year, the 25th Panagbenga was cancelled because of the pandemic and before the city was declared under enhanced community quarantine on March 17 along with the whole island of Luzon.

This year, the festivities according to Magalong and organizers will be postponed to later date, a similar situation just like last year even after the opening program were held on February without the usual parade for elementary pupils wanting to join the grand street parade.

Former Southeast Asian Games gold medal winner Marites Bitbit, meanwhile, is postponing indefinitely a virtual bike race during the Panagbenga at a track she helped create in barangay Loakan.

“All sporting events scheduled for the Panagbenga are being put on hold,” said city sports coordinator Gaudencio Gonzales. That is including the Bitbit planned race. Boxing promoter Brico Santig, on the other hand, is also eyeing the staging of a big promotion here featuring the fast rising Carl Jammes Martin. Martin wants to have more fights to be able to hone his already formidable arsenal that will prime him for a possible world title fight.

Santig said that it will be a bubble like slugfest where the Martin, his opponent and other fighters will be confined for two weeks in a hotel and train away from crowd.

“Maybe at the end of the Panagbenga or after the Flower Fest, for us to have more time to seek for sponsors,” said the back-to-back promote of the year for 2019 and 2020 by Fightnews Asia.

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