• Taste of Cordillera for Miss U candidates

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    BAGUIO CITY: Twenty-nine lovely candidates in the 2017 Miss Universe beauty pageant are will have a taste of Baguio City, as well as the rest of the Cordilleras on January 18, for a one-day peek into highland culture.

    ‘We will showcase the best of Baguio and the highlands,” tourism director Venus Tan Saturday said over the weekend amid preparations for the international beauty tilt’s Baguio leg on Wednesday.

    “The world is watching us on this,” beamed the tourism official, saying it will be “a great opportunity to showcase Baguio City as a city evolving and showing excellent professionalism in organizing such a huge event.”

    With the tourism department’s “REV-BLOOM” campaign come-on, Tan added, the Miss Universe candidates will see “a revived city and a city that should be visited.”

    At least 160 countries will be watching the candidates experience Baguio, regarded as the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

    The hosting of the Baguio leg, according to Tan, “signals the revival of reforesting the city, the beginning of putting traction to re-greening the city.”

    It offers “lots of opportunities toward sustainable development of tourism,” she said.

    The candidates will be welcomed at Loakan Airport by Philippine Military Academy cadets with a silent drill before heading to Upper Session Road for the Panagbenga-like (Baguio Flower Festival) street-dancing and float parade that will wind up at the Baguio Country Club (BCC).

    Aboard three, quarter-of-a-million peso each BCC-designed floats themed after the country’s biggest group of islands–Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao–the Miss Universe aspirants are expected to be warmly welcomed by Baguio residents

    Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines will be on a fourth float.

    The international beauties will have a taste of Baguio literally as they pick strawberries at the Baguio Country Club’s own strawberry fields at its “green zone,” according to Miss Baguio City 2011 Shauna Curran, now BCC events manager.

    “We grow our own herbs,” BCC general manager Anthony de Leon said.

    De Leon is also the president of the organizing association–Hotels and Restaurants Association of Baguio, the private organization that shelled out P31 million for hosting the event.

    The candidates will also be taking part in regreening Baguio City by planting a tree each, Curran said.

    An arts and cultural exhibit prepared by Baguio solar painter Jordan Mang-osan and Baguio-bred national artist and international award-wining film-maker Kidlat Tahimik at the BCC’s Cordilera Convention Hall will usher in the Cordillera spirit and culture.

    A formal gala dinner will cap the candidates’ visit.

    On Saturday afternoon, organizers and authorities had a walk-through at the 3-kilometer parade route.

    De Leon said there will be no need to jamsignals of telecommunication firms “because the terror possibility in Baguio City is very low.”

    Ample security preparations are in place,Baguio police director Senior Supt. Ramil Saculles said.

    THOM PICAÑA

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