Issue of March 7, 2010
     
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The first salvo of activities for the Year of the Golden Tiger

The Year of the Golden Tiger in the City of Baguio started with a big bang. All activities were geared toward a culture of oneness not only with the people of Baguio and neighboring provinces but also with Baguio’s sister cities nationally and internationally.

February has the shortest number of days in a year but it was during this month that four major activities were successfully staged. All activities catered to the five senses of man and hundreds of thousands have been delighted with Baguio’s sample of historical and cultural wealth, exotic cuisine, scenic spots, and the hospitable, ever friendly, and smiling Baguio people.

The first day of February was the launching of the month-long Panagbenga Festival followed by the Spring Festival or popularly known as the Chinese Lunar New Year. The Spring Festival included sharing of one’s blessings and bountiful harvests with senior citizens in a selected barangay of the city; the sharing of “tikoy” or glutinous rice to symbolize unity or oneness, lysee or ampao to symbolize good luck and fortune, and candies and other goodies to sweeten one’s life. This was culminated with a grand parade along the main thoroughfares of the city.

The Spring Festival was doubly an auspicious day for it coincided with Valentine’s Day. It was not only a special day for the young lovers but also for the older folks to renew their vows of love and mutual respect as love conquers all.

The street dancing and float parades were the highlights of the Panagbenga celebration. It is considered as the most colorful and grandest parade in the country. The cultural show and musical presentations were awesome which revived ones emotions and love for classical music and uplifted ones spirit for our rich culture and traditions.  All the activities mirrored the solidarity of the people to rise above the challenges of the times and make Baguio not only a tourist spot but also an educational and convention center. Indeed a national and international friendly city, welcoming all.

Another highlight of the grand celebration is the Sister Cities and Towns Twinning Summit. This is a very historical event to promote friendship, goodwill, and understanding among the delegates from the various sister cities across the countries and cities around the world.

In 1975, the Philippines re-established diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Baguio has extended her hands of friendship throughout the world and the first city to reciprocate was the City of Hangzhou, China. Since then, high level visits were conducted such as state visits of Philippine presidents. Similar Chinese presidents and premiers visited the country. The exchange visits indicated the significant steps in the relationships between the two countries. It was guided by the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non aggression, and non-interference in each other’s international affairs and equality. Bilateral exchanges in trade, education, agriculture, and economic cooperation flourished.

Hon. Mauricio Domogan, then city mayor and now three-term congressman, was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Local Governments on Peace Friendship and Cooperation in the New Century. The historical document was enshrined in the United Nations Headquarters on Sisterhood Friendship Charter, the National Museum of Chinese History, and Friendship of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Last year, mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. together with councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda and other members of the delegation attended the world congress of friendship cities and signed in behalf of Baguio as a Friendly City.

This year’s summit aims to promote friendship, good will, and understanding among the delegates from Baguio’s sister cites both the local and national which will hopefully bring social, political, and economic transformation. Today, Baguio has forged sister cities across the country namely: Alaminos Ciy, Angeles City, Bacolod, Butuan, Calbayog City, Daet, Camarines City, Davao, Dipaculao, Lopez, Quezon, Makati, Mandaue, Ormoc, Pavia, Science City of Muñoz, Zamboanga, and Marawi City.

Aside from Hangzhou the international cities of Baguio include Cusco, Peru; Gongju, South Korea; Nanyu City, Japan; Honolulo, Hawaii; Karuizawa, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Shepparton, Australia; Taebek City, South Korea; Tamuning Tumon Harmon, Guam; Taxco, Mexico; Vallejo, California; Vaughan, Ontario; and Wakkanai City, Japan.

Long live and mabuhay to all our sister cities, both national and global. We walk hand in hand as partners in progress.

Kudos to the organizers for the successful events as we begin the Year of the Golden Tiger.

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