In Baguio City, ‘There’s Still Life’
Fresh air. Breathtaking views. Colorful culture and deep, mystical experiences.
These are just some of the things we are missing in 2020. So many things have happened this year but the irony is all that has happened has led us to isolation, stealing from us the joys of travel and discovery as well as being together or meeting new people.
Baguio, the country’s first-ever Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts, a recognition awarded by UNESCO, has officially opened its doors for tourism, and the Creative Arts Festival with the title “There Is Still Life,” is a poignant reminder at a time of great challenges. How else to remind everyone of that truth in the middle of this pandemic but to kick off the annual Ibagiw Creative Festival?
Ibagiwis an Ibaloy term for moss, after which the city has also been named. Now on its third year, Ibagiw Creative Festival is a month-long event that celebrates Baguio City’s achievement as the first Creative City in the country by showcasing its vibrant culture and history through the masterpieces of its very own artists. There are no better ambassadors to promote this festivity than the combination of two National Artists, filmmaker KidlatTahimik and visual artist BenCab.
‘Interlinked’: A gathering of Baguio’s finest
At the Baguio Convention Center, 78-year-old Kidlat, Tatay Kidlat as the locals fondly call him, spearheaded “Interlinked,” an exhibition that houses the works of 38 artists from Baguio, including those of BenCab’s and his own.
He is a National Artist for Film, but the Father of Philippine Independent Cinema’s artistry goes beyond the lenses of his camera. At the Convention Center, exhibit goers will be greeted by his gigantic installation works that honor the resistance of our cultural warriors against the aggression of neocolonialism.
‘Baguio is more than just its natural wonders, and we want more Filipinos to rediscover what UNESCO designated as a Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts.’
His large woodwork, suggestive of the shape of a ship, features Enrique de Malacca, the Malay slave who became a part of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition party. Tatay Kidlat, fondly call Enrique as “Iking,” whom he believed as the actual first person to have circumnavigated the world.
“In my narrative, Magellan’s slave Enrique, whom I have cast as an Ifugao, showed him the way. Enrique and his knowledge of the stars guided Magellan across the Pacific,” says Tatay Kidlat. “Despite having the latest technology of his time, such as the compass and maps, Magellan relied on the indigenous GPS—Iking.”
To depict their take on western films, Kidlat, collaborating with sculptorCrisAtiwan, put up another gigantic piece, the Battle between 2 Goddesses of Winds (Bathala ng Hangin). This woodwork, representing a duel, depicts Inhabian, Ifugao’s goddess of winds, blowing furiously toward Marilyn Monroe, whom they see as Hollywood’s goddess of winds.
“She’s like saying ‘Alis dyan, Hollywood (Leave us alone, Hollywood). We had an overdose of your sex and violent stories. We have our own beautiful stories. Stay away,’” explains Kidlat, who adds that all of the art pieces on display in the “Interlinked” exhibit will be brought to Spain next year for an international art show.
‘There is Still Life’: An ornamental exhibit at the Sunshine Park
Living true to its name as a Creative City, Baguio is hosting not just one but multiple exhibitions at the same time. At the Sunshine Park, the exhibit “Art in Park: There Is Still Life” is also ongoing.
Plant lovers will surely enjoy this exhibit as it gives recognition to the power of nature and plants as a source of healing and inspiration for everyone. A blend of art, culture, and science, it houses a variety of objects, curiosities, and breakthroughs, from paintings and ornamental photos to herbal medicine.
Wood sculpture competition at the BenCab Museum
Acknowledging that the traditional wood sculpture is a form of art that is slowly dying, National Artist for the Visual Arts BenCab, through his BenCab Museum, has just hosted a wood-carving competition with the hope of rekindling the love among local artists for this art form.
“Asin road is a carving village and we want to emphasize the talent of the carvers here,” BenCab tells The Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “My idea is to introduce traditional carving because they have moved away from that already. They started carving eagles, commercial things. My idea is for them to go back to traditional carving, which we have as a collection here at the museum.”
All competition entries will be displayed at the museum.
In recognition of all the wonderful things that Baguio has to offer, the Department of Tourism (DOT), headed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, is actively supporting tourism in the city and its surrounds.
“Baguio is more than just its natural wonders, and we want more Filipinos to rediscover what UNESCO designated as a Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts. Initiatives like Ibagiw will certainly help revive tourism in the region and jumpstart the local economy,” Secretary Puyat says. “Experiencing the Ibagiw 2020 festival ensures the bright future of Baguio’s creative economy while keeping its traditions and art forms alive.”
Baguio is now accepting 200 tourists every day. To ensure everyone’s safety, the city is strictly implementing health protocols.
Visit app.philippines.travel for registration and travel guidelines.