BAGUIO CITY, Philippines?Elementary and high school students dressed in flower-inspired costumes made the streets of Baguio City bloom in colors during the culmination of the 14th Panagbenga Festival here Saturday.
Students from more than 20 schools marched from the streets of upper Session Road and congregated at the Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park for a dance competition.
?This street dance competition is one of the highlights of the Panagbenga Festival. Through this festival, we want to showcase and celebrate Baguio life and culture, and highlight Baguio?s centennial year,? said Baguio City mayor Peter Ray Bautista in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
For this year?s festival, Bautista said the local government had ?a lot of preparations? considering that it is also the city?s centennial year.
?This year is dubbed the biggest since it falls on the centennial year of the country?s summer capital,? he added.
Bautista said the government divided the celebration into various events throughout February ?because having one major event can cause problems among the locals and people? in terms of security and crowd control.
Events have started early this year, Bautista added. During the second week of February, Andrew Lloyd Webber?s musical ?Phantom of the Opera? was shown at the Burnham Lake as part of the Valentine?s Day presentation.
On the third week, the city celebrated the graduation of students of the Philippine Military Academy, the official said.
Thousands of local and foreign tourists including media watched the street dance competition that started about 8 a.m. Saturday.
An estimated 300,000 tourists trooped to the summer capital this week, Police Senior Superintendent Wilfredo Franco told INQUIRER.net.
The city has deployed about 2,000 security personnel for the weekend festivity, including 400 policemen, 1,080 community volunteers and medical groups and hundreds of teachers, said Franco.
?We deployed a larger security force this year because we expect this year?s festival to attract more visitors since we are celebrating also the centennial year of Baguio,? said Franco.
Franco said there were no reports of untoward incidents except a few cases of elderly fainting due to extreme heat and dehydration.
The Panagbenga, also called the Baguio Flower Festival, is a month-long event held every February.
Panagbenga means ?a season of blooming.?