Poster for the Plant Expo at the City Coliseum, one of the Balayong Festival's activities. // Photo courtesy of Balayong People's Park

Puerto Princesa City’s “Balayong Festival” activities will be celebrated online this year, except for the Bike Hero event on Sunday (March 7), due to the pandemic.

Pageants such as the Miss Puerto Princesa and Binibining Sexsi were broadcast live on Facebook beginning early February. Binibining Sexsi concluded on Tuesday (March 2) night, while Miss Puerto Princesa held its coronation night on Wednesday (March 3) evening.

Bike enthusiasts will come together on March 7 to join the Balayong Bike Hero, beginning at the Irawan Integrated Agriculture Center and ending at the Acacia Tunnel in Barangay Inagawan Sub.

Drew Manlawe, program manager of the city’s Oplan Linis Program (OLP), said in an interview Monday (March 1) that this year’s Balayong Festival aims to cater to the growing “Plantitos and Plantitas” movement. The movement is one of the pandemic’s most notable phenomena, wherein more people turned to gardening to pass the time while staying indoors.

“Marami tayong na-modify na activities dahil nga sa pandemic. Ang activities more of online. Since trending ngayon ang plantitos and plantitas, nagkaroon kami ng initiative na i-highlight ‘yong mga nagbebenta ng halaman. So mayroon tayong Plant Expo [from March 1] hanggang March 8 sa City Park sa Coliseum,” he said.

The Balayong Festival is celebrated every March 4th to commemorate Puerto Princesa City’s founding and is one of the city’s well-known tourist activities. Balayong, also known as the Palawan cherry blossom (Cassia x Palawan Cherry) blooms every March or April with its pink flowers like the sakura of Japan. This year marks the 149th founding anniversary of Puerto Princesa and the 17th Balayong Festival.

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