Panagbenga Flower Festival attracts 2010 hopefuls

By DateLine Philippines

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines–The 15th Panagbenga (Baguio Flower Festival) seemed to have attracted not only tourists to the Summer Capital but also presidential hopefuls Gilbert Teodoro, Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar and his senatorial slate, and Senator Richard Gordon for a chance to woo the city’s voting public.

Teodoro squeezed through the throng of people at the historic Burnham Park en route to the Athletic Bowl Field to watch the parade of the floats adorned by fresh flowers. He was later joined by two of his senatorial candidates in the Lakas-Kampi slate, reelectionist Senators Ramon Revilla and Lito Lapid. He then proceeded to the SM City Baguio where he was mobbed anew by mall-goers who went to him to shake hands and pose for pictures.

Teodoro will meet with the bishops in the afternoon and have dinner with executives of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in the evening.

Asked about his chances in Baguio, he said he was “quite confident” of getting about 90% of the voters here.

“I am confident that I have big chance of winning because the local leaders here are with us. I know the situation in Baguio. It also helps that there is some familiarity with me here. I speak the language that roots in this city. And most of all people here in Baguio are thinking voters. I cannot put words in their mouth but it is up to them to judge who is the best for Baguio,” he said in an interview with reporters.

Five of the governors of the provinces belonging to CAR are expected to attend the dinner with Teodoro, one of his close aides said.

CAR is composed of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province, and one chartered city, Baguio City. It is home to about one million voters.

Teodoro said it was expected for candidates like him to attend festivals like the Panagbenga because they know people would be there.

“It’s part of the campaign strategy. You cannot deny that people from all over the Philippines will be trooping here. The important thing is for us not to distract the program. I think it is open and fair for everybody,” he said.

The former Defense Secretary said this is his third time to attend the flower festival in Baguio, which he calls his second home.

“Baguio is my second home because my grandmother is from here, so she is an old-timer here,” he said.
He said he was touched by the warm reception of the people when he arrived here. In his younger years, Teodoro spent his vacation and Christmas with his cousins in Baguio.

“Coming back here relives a lot of memories, of my grandmother, of my greatgrandfather who is buried here, it relieves a lot of very, very fond memories,” he added.

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