Baguio cancels Panagbenga opening, other big events due to coronavirus threat

Frank Cimatu

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Baguio cancels Panagbenga opening, other big events due to coronavirus threat

Mau Victa

(3rd UPDATE) The Sunday openings of Session Road are also suspended for now

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Mayor Benjamin Magalong announced on Friday, January 31, that all big public activities in Baguio would be cancelled due to the threat caused by the novel coronavirus.  

These include the following:

  • Opening of the very popular Panagbenga Festival on Saturday, February 1
  • Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Games on February 15
  • Sunday openings of Session Road  

Magalong said small events like weddings, conferences, and others would still push through. 

The mayor said he would still see if the Panagbenga street and float parades on February 29 and March 1 would push through.

“The tourism revenues are the least of my concerns. My main priorities are the health of my constituents,” Magalong said.

He said that the decision to cancel these events was reached after a meeting Friday morning with health authorities and members of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation. He said that the cancellation of the Panagbenga opening parade would not mean the suspension of classes in the college level.

The city earlier cancelled classes in the elementary and high school on Saturday in anticipation of the parade. The opening parade was supposed to choose those who would perform in the finale of the Panagbenga streetdance and drum and lyre band performance on February 29. That and the float parade on March 1 will still be deliberated on.

Magalong said that the CARAA, which will have 7,000 athletes from all over the region, was postponed and will be held during the summer.

“We don’t want to send the wrong message. Tourists are still welcome,” he said.

Kennon Road will still be partially opened on the weekends on February, he said.

The Philippine Military Academy will be closed to the general public in the next 3 weeks, according to PMA superintendent Vice Admiral Allan Cusi. Only relatives of cadets can visit on weekends. The PMA has yet to decide on whether the reunion usually set after Valentine’s Day will push through.

Meanwhile, an online petition launched Thursday night to cancel the Panagbenga events altogether has gained steam among residents. As of Friday, the petition has garnered more than 15,000 signatures on Merely four hours after the petition’s posting online on Thursday, 4,500 people already provided their signatures.

The petition, addressed to Magalong, the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, and all other involved bodies, claims that with the confirmation of a single case of nCov, continuing to hold the Panagbenga festival is a health risk.

“Life is much more precious than money. We the people of Baguio petitioned to cancel the celebration of Panagbenga 2020 to at least reduce or prevent the possibility of entering the Wuhan coronavirus to the said city,” the petition claims. 

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