BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The reigning Ms. Universe title holder Pia Wurtzbach and the rest of the 29 candidates were given a grand paraded in the “summer capital.”
“I’ve never seen such a wonder like this,” said Miss Canada, amazed by Panagbenga’s street dances and flower float parade from Upper Session Road to the posh Baguio Country Club (BCC).
Panagbenga is the Baguio Flower Festival, Philippine’s own version of the Rose Float Festival in Pasadena, California. Panagbenga was recently chosen as an international festival, as indicated by the tourism department, is maybe the most crowd-drawing festival the country, attracting hundreds of thousands to the city each February.
Atop on flower decorated floats the Miss Universe bets had a chance to see Baguio and the Cordilleras, even in just a day.
“It is an honor that international beauties come in the city,” said mayor Mauricio Domogan, adding, “it was just unfortunate that the usual Panagbenga parade route was shortened because of the time limitations,” he explained.
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Still, as early as six o’clock, residents line up along the streets to have a chance to peek at the international beauties. “It is worth the wait,” a beauty contest fanatic said.
Miss Universe candidates tasted Baguio City’s warm welcome the country’s “vacation capital”, peeking into the unique culture of the highlands.
The international beauties also tasted Baguio at its best, like the famous strawberry picking adventure at BCC’s own strawberry fields at its 2012-born “green zone”. “We grow our own herbs,” beamed BCC general manager Anthony de Leon.
De Leon is the president of the organizing association – Hotels and Restaurants Association of Baguio (HRAB), the private organization that shelled out P31 million for hosting the event.
The Baguio solar painting artist Jordan Mang-osan and Baguio-bred national artist and international award-winning filmmmaker Kidlat Tahimik prepared an arts and cultural exhibit at the BCC’s Cordilera Convention Hall showing the Cordillera spirit and culture to the beauty candidates, capping it with a formal gala dinner Wednesday night.
Our hosting, director Venus Tan of the Department of Tourism said, “showcase(s) Baguio City for excellence in travel and tourism.”