Malolos City—Foreign and local tourists are now waiting for the biggest and most colorful parade of garden flowers aboard uniquely-designed floats in the town of Guiguinto, known as the “garden and landscaping capital” of the country.
Based on the turnout of participating entrees for this year’s float competition, Guiguinto Mayor Ambrosio ‘Boy’ Cruz said: “The contest will again be very close and much harder to judge. We do not want any taint of favoritism or petty politics to smear our No. 1 tourism attraction. All we want is to bring out the best craftsmanship and creativity from our villagers.”
Rene Villanueva, the first-ever winner of Gawad Singkaban as Outstanding Tourism Officer of Bulacan, said they have invited reputable names in various discipline involved in designs, flower industry and architecture to ensure the success of this year’s “Halamanan Festival” scheduled to open on Monday, Jan. 20, with a live TV coverage of the morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda.”
A bonsai exhibit and competition will also be held on the opening day on Monday at the Garden City Park in Tabang, Guiguinto, supervised by noted landscape-designers and bonsai experts that include Renee “Tac” Robles and Pia and Art Javier.
A trade fair of house ornamentation, vegetables and decors and a big “Bagsak Presyo” (price drop) sale of garden plants is also patronized by bargain hunters, mostly interior designers from all over Metro Manila.
The annual fiesta of Guiguinteños will start with a fire-brand street dancing by students from all schools and youths from the 14 barangays of the town, highlighted by colorful costumes, motifs and garments made from ornamental plants that are uniquely the pride and homegrown livelihood of Guiguinto landscapers and garden-plant producers.
The centerpiece of the four-day fiesta celebration is the much-awaited “Parada ng Karosa” starting at the Agatha Hotel compound in Barangay Sta. Rita.
This parade of indigenous floats, started by Mayor Ambrosio ‘Boy’ Cruz, Jr. in 1999, is now the No. 1 tourist-destination outside of the famed “Panagbenga” of Baguio City with prizes of P200,000, P100,000 and P75,000 for the top three winners.
From a handful of participants during its early years, the number of floats from the 14 barangays has swelled to over 50 including participants from other LGUs of Bulacan.
Some of the more recent attractions, especially to children, are floats in the shapes of a snake, bees, beetle, grasshoppers, ants, frogs, and other insects that are attracted to the scent of garden flowers and backyard ornamental plants of Guiguinto.
The Halamanan fest has since become a yearly tourism-seller as a token of gratitude of town residents to Guiguinto’s patron saint St. Ildephonsus (San Ildefonso), every 23th of January.
Another culminating highlight of the yearly town’s fiesta is the crowning night for the “Hari at Reyna ng Halamanan Festival.”
Aside from attracting famed couturiers, the pageant has become a rich source talents and beauties vying for national pageant like Binibining Pilipinas tilt, Ms. World and recently, Ms. Earth.
Cruz also announced that just last week, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Pena has granted Guiguinto P2.7 million in seed money for the establishment of a Research and Development Center for the propagation of seedlings, tissue-cultre and other related fields of horticulture studies to institutionalize the livelihood of cut-flower and garden plants industries in Bulacan.
Cruz, a four-time awardee of DILG’s seal of Good Local Governance, has steered the phenomenal progress of the town, now a first-class municipality and boasts of being the first and only ISO-certified municipality all over the country.
Under his watch, the annual Halamanan fest has seen meteoric rise in its popularity based on the thick crowds that line up along McArthur Highway during the parade of floats all over the town.
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