ENCHANTING BAGUIO ADVOCATES. Baguio Tourism Council interim chairman Gladys de Vera (rightmost), Department of Tourism – Cordillera officer in charge Jovie Ganongan (3rd from left), city tourism officer Aloysius Mapalo (2nd from left) and director Ferdie Balanag (left) lead the organizing of the “An Enchanting Baguio Christmas” which will have a soft launching on Nov. 23 at the Rose Garden of the Burnham Park. Several activities will be staged that will make December in Baguio a more festive event. (PNA photo by Pigeon Lobien)

BAGUIO CITY – Christmas celebration here starts on Nov. 23 with the fair at the Christmas Village in Burnham Park Rose Garden with the Cultural Center of the Phillippine’s Bayanihan Folk Dance Company as performers.

This is but a soft opening for the more than a month celebration that will make Baguio more festive during the season, like in the past, said Baguio Tourism Council (BTC) interim chair Gladys de Vera in a press conference on Wednesday.

“It will be well-curated, well-directed performances,” said local artist Ferdie Balanag, who will incorporate creativeness into the celebration that is 45 days long.

Balanag said the village and the fair will officially open the following day with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra's (PPO) performance.

Organizers said they took advantage of the orchestra’s two-day stay where the PPO will be playing at the University of the Cordilleras as part of its outreach program that will also bring the orchestra to Iloilo, Aklan and Nueva Ecija.

While the orchestra plays, lights to the village which has a European theme will be lit transporting promenaders to the enchanting villages of the said continent that were the birthplace of fairy tales.

Thus, the festivities title: An Enchanting Baguio Christmas which will officially kick off on December 1 with the Saint Louis University Lantern Parade that will be followed with the lighting of the Christmas lights at Session Road, Malcolm Square (Peoples Park) and Burnham and to be followed by fireworks.

It will actually be a busy December 1 with the Children’s Mardi Gras that will kick off the 36-day Silahis ng Pasko (SNP) which will continue despite the passing of its founder, the late city councilor Narciso Padilla.

“All the program of my father will be pursued although it will be a little different without my father,” said son Fritz Gerald Padilla, the SNP organizing committee chairman.

Among the major events of the festivity are: the Philippine Military Academy Nutcracker parade with Ballet Baguio’s Nutcracker performance at the Christmas Village on December 8; Musikgarten Christmas party on December 12; Christmas gift-giving on December 14; Ongkoleyt day and choral fest on December 15; simbang gabi and soup kitchen on December 16-24; Phoenix Fuel’s Day on December 28; and local band “The Edralins” concert on December 29.

Meanwhile, the SNP will have the following as other events: Lucky Christmas Family on December 7 and 8 in both Baguio and Tuba; the Special Olympics for Persons with Disabilities on December 15; the Share a Joy for sick children on December 22; the Lucky Christmas Baby on December 25; the TALA and KKISLAP for elderly and athletes on December 30; and, the Lucky New Year’s Baby on January 1.

A closing ceremony for the SNP will be on January 5 at the Shrine of Brown Madonna in Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet.

Silahis means “ray of hope” and was founded by Padilla in 1973 to provide for the less fortunate, indigent and people with disabilities.

It is staged in coordination with the City Social Welfare and Development Office. (PNA)