Ban on backpacks proposed for Panagbenga security in Baguio
BAGUIO CITY — Restricting visitors carrying backpacks and other heavy gear as they watch the Panagbenga was among the security precautions discussed by organizers of the festival that opened on Friday with a street dancing parade.
Crowds of mostly tourists and residents were expected along downtown Session Road and Harrison Road, next to Burnham Park, to watch the grand street dancing parade on March 2 and the grand float parade on March 3.
In light of the recent bomb attacks in Mindanao, requiring tourists to leave their bags at their hotels or transient houses was brought up at a press briefing, taking its cue from the “no backpack” rule of the Black Nazarene procession last month in Quiapo, Manila.
But the Panagbenga organizers appeared lukewarm to the idea.
Other festivals, like the Sinulog in Cebu City on Jan. 20, did not enforce that guideline, said Frederico Alquiros, vice chair of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI).
Anthony de Leon, BFFFI co-chair, said imposing restrictions may also cast a bad light on the Baguio police and turn off visitors.
Parents of elementary and high school performers often used backpacks to carry their street clothes and snacks, “so banning backpacks or any big bags may not be practical,” he said.
The police, however, began enforcing stricter crowd control measures. At the Baguio Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park, where Friday’s parade participants converged, park security frisked everyone who entered.
Many of the children were dressed up as colorful flowers, such as roses and daisies. Other children were dressed as insects. —WITH A REPORT FROM VALERIE DAMIAN
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