Weekenders will be treated to a free concert and the sight of hot air balloons floating against the backdrop of the glorious Manila Bay sunset when the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) is officially inaugurated as one of the world’s New Seven Wonders of Nature (N7WN) on April 21 at the One Esplanade grounds beside the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, it was announced by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje.

Paje said the organizers, led by Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn and representatives of government agencies that were members of a task force created to spearhead the campaign for the PPUR prior to the proclamation, decided to hold two celebrations – one in Metro Manila, and the other in Puerto Princesa City the following day.

“Mayor Hagedorn himself has said that the victory of the PPUR is not a victory of Puerto Princesa City alone but of the entire country, and this is a chance for everyone to ‘share’ in that victory,” said the environment secretary.

Paje is urging Filipinos, especially those in Metro Manila and in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, to attend the celebrations to show national pride in the PPUR’s victory. “This is our way of saying a big ‘thank you’ to all Filipinos who voted for the PPUR or joined in the global campaign that led to the win,” he said. The environment chief acted as the campaign manager during the voting period.

N7WN president and founder Bernard Weber, along with representatives of countries hosting the contest’s six other winners, will also grace the event.

The inauguration will see Weber turning over a commemorative plaque to the Philippine government. The bronze-cast panel measures 130cm x 110cm x 7cm (4.25’ x 3.6’ x 0.23’) and is a heavyweight at 120 kilograms. The N7WN site describes it as “liquid metal… combined with 21st-century aesthetics.” The PPUR plaque was the first produced for the N7WN winners by an old foundry in Munich, Germany, and will be installed at a still-to-be-determined site in Metro Manila. A similar plaque will be installed near the PPUR entrance itself in Palawan.

Hot air balloons will be moored in the area at 3 p.m. and will float overhead until just before the program starts at 6 p.m. The program itself, along with the free concert, will be held at the open grounds beside the One Esplanade building, on a stage that will be designed to resemble the iconic cave entrance to the PPUR. The event will flow for more than an hour and end with a grand fireworks display.

The organizers have been finalizing the lineup of local artists to sing during the concert, but among those who have confirmed include Sarah Geronimo, Joey Ayala, and the shadow-play group El Gamma Penumbra. TV personalities Luis Manzano and Grace Lee will host the event.

The PPUR was declared as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature on November 11, 2011. The other six winners were Halong Bay in Vietnam; the Amazon of South America; Iguazu Falls between Argentina and Brazil; Jeju Island in South Korea; Komodo in Indonesia; and Table Mountain in South Africa. The PPUR’s inauguration will be the first among the winners.