BAGUIO CITY – Next year's Panagbenga festival in Baguio City just might feature a new attraction: hot air balloons.
In an interview at The Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay over the weekend, Panagbenga 2014 chairman Anthony de Leon revealed that he is in talks with the organizers of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival, which is usually held in the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
De Leon explained that the Baguio City government and the Panagbenga organizers are looking at ways to improve the popular flower festival.
“We try to brainstorm with the members of the board of trustees of the [Panagbenga] Foundation on what are the activities we can do to enhance the event," he said, stressing that the talks are still with the hot air balloon organizers are still "exploratory" in nature.
But if it does happen, De Leon said the organizing team already has a plan on when and where to hold the hot air balloon activity.
De Leon, however, said this new attraction will not eclipse the more-established activities during the month-long Panagbenga festival such as the street dance and float parade. Rather, it is planned for the third week of February to coincide with the alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy.
The organizers also said the balloons will likely take off at the now-abandoned Loakan Airport.
“Since we’re not using the Loakan Airport for anything right now, we can use that for the hot air balloon where they can take off and, hopefully they can land on Melvin Jones or Athletic Dome. These are my discussions with them,” he said.
De Leon also said he also hopes to bring the popular Breitling Jet Team to hold a flight demonstration, in keeping with the tradition of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
“If I’m able to bring them up here, then the flight demonstration team of Breitling will also follow. So maybe, again, that’s another attraction for the flower festival to have – a flight demonstration team up here in Baguio,” he said.