In Baguio festival, pols welcome but not their slogans

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The Burnham Lake serves as a parade venue for the flower festival. It is currently being dredged, but the work is being rushed so the lake can be open for this year’s lake float festival. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—Organizers of the Baguio Flower Festival have reinstated the no campaigning rule for politicians joining the annual crowd-drawing event.

The rule had served Baguio well in the past, Frederico Alquiros, festival cochair, said, adding that disruptions in the street dancing and the floral float parade during previous Panagbenga had cost some candidates votes.

He did not elaborate, except saying that “Baguio does not like its festival being misused.”

The street dancing and floral floats parades take place in the last weekend of February and are followed by a week-long street bazaar called “Session Road in Bloom” in downtown Baguio.

Anthony de Leon, festival chair and general manager of the Baguio Country Club, said they are not preventing anyone from joining the parades provided they follow rules.

He said no parade participant is allowed to display campaign streamers and posters. Throwing merchandising products at the crowd is also prohibited.

He also said participants are not allowed to break the parade line to interact with the crowd.

Alquiros said these are proper crowd control regulations that help reduce the odds that a stampede may break out from people who pack Session Road and the roads leading to Burnham Park’s Athletic Bowl, where floral floats and street dancers gather and perform.

He said they will monitor national candidates when the month-long festival starts on Feb. 1 because local campaigns will not start during the festival period.

“We cannot stop a provincial float from joining the parades, even though it bears a local candidate seeking national office,” he said, for as long as the provincial entry follows the regulations imposed by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc.

As the biggest festival in the summer capital approaches, the cool mountain breeze here continues to attract tourists and delight residents.

Temperature in the summer capital on Tuesday dropped to 11.5 degrees Celsius, the month’s lowest, as weathermen said they expected nippy weather in the coming days due to the tailend of a cold front sweeping northern Luzon.

It rose slightly to 12.2 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, although the weather observatory at Mt. Sto. Tomas, the city’s highest point, recorded 10.1 degrees Celsius.

In the last three days, the temperature had dropped from 15 degrees Celsius on Saturday, 14 degrees on Sunday and 13.2 degrees on Monday. Vincent Cabreza and Gobleth Moulic, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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