Batang Pinoy closing made simple to empathize with ‘Ompong’ victims

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BAGUIO CITY – The organizers and hosts of the 2018 “Batang Pinoy” have decided to make the closing program simple, compared to what had been announced as a grand event, due to the recent calamity in the Cordillera spawned by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).

City Tourism Officer Engr. Aloysius Mapalo, in a telephone interview, said the city government, the Benguet provincial government and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) have decided to tone down the closing program and cancel some of the grandeur, which were originally planned.

“We do not want to be insensitive to our people by having a lavish celebration to close the week-long Batang Pinoy,” Mapalo said.

Instead of having a grand fireworks display on September 21, the organizers decided to release 500 blue and white balloons.

Blue, to celebrate the success of the biggest sports event hosted by Baguio and Benguet, and white, to remember those who perished in various areas in Baguio and Benguet due to the onslaught of “Ompong”.

A cultural dance presentation originally planned with over 500 performers in the native attire of the six provinces of the Cordillera, will be reduced to some 300 participants.

“We still want to showcase the diverse culture of the Cordillera,” Mapalo said.

He added that the Saint Louis University (SLU) students, from junior and senior high school, as well as college students, will perform the cultural dances at the oval of the Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park.

The organizers have earlier canceled the opening program, which was supposed to be last September 15 due to “Ompong”. The games started on September 17 without any grandeur due to the devastation brought about by the typhoon.

He relayed the organizers’ original wish to have President Rodrigo Duterte as speaker for the opening program but with its cancellation, they continued to hope to have him for the closing.

Due to the devastation of the typhoon with several deaths and others still missing under the rubble and mud due to landslides, the President made an urgent visit to Benguet last September 17, making it impossible to invite the President back for the closing program.

Mapalo said PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and Senator Miguel Zubiri are the dignitaries for the closing event, Friday afternoon.

The closing program is followed by a mayor’s night, which also has a simple program and gathering. Pamela Mariz Geminiano, PNA / ABN