Thursday, October 24, 2019

A gathering of kindred souls

It was a typical Saturday afternoon in Baguio. The October sun shone through the windows filling the room with positive energy as the artists started to arrive.

The talent in the room was varied last Saturday, October 19, to say the least. There were veteran folk musicians, classically trained singers, and cultural dancers, among others. The chairs were arranged in a circle, much like a typical dap-ay.

Ibagiw Creative Director, Karlo Marko Altomonte 
Once there were enough people to start the meeting, the creative director of the festival, Karlo Marko Altomonte prepared to speak but the first words heard in the meeting came from folk musician and lawyer Jose “Bubut” Olarte, who asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: “What is Bard?”. This was in reference to the words written on Karlo’s jacket, who admitted that he didn’t know what the logo’s reference was. “Maybe it’s a reference to Shakespeare,” Olarte said to which Altomonte replied, “Why not?” This sparked laughter across the room, which set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

The meeting began with Altomonte introducing the festival’s rationale to all the artists in the room, and it all boiled down to one idea: art that is distinctly Ibagiw. This is the concept that the festival was built around, hence the title which literally means, “of or from Baguio”.

Baguio is a creative city, and this has been well-known even before UNESCO declared it as such. It has served as a hub for artists of different forms of expression for a long time, and the Ibagiw festival is here to show everyone, including the citizens of Baguio all the creative possibilities that the city has to offer.

BAGUIO FOLKS - Local folk musicians Andy Villamor of
Grupong Binhi, Bobby Carantes, Jose "Bubut" Olarte, Jr.,
March Fianza and Christopher Donaal.
Baguio is a melting pot of different cultures, and the same goes for art in the city. There are incredibly skilled craft and folk artists, performing and visual artists in the city, and the festival is looking to show that art in Baguio is as diverse as the city itself. Which is what lead to a term thrown around a lot in the meeting: A Creative Ecosystem. An ecosystem thrives on interaction between the beings in the community, which is why the festival looks to unite local artists and artisans, gather them all in one space, the Baguio Heritage Hill and Nature Park, also known as the Diplomat Hotel which the festival organizers hope to turn into a permanent center for art and culture.

The concept of having the artists in the city work together was further explained as Altomonte shared the line-up of performances and exhibitions featured in the opening and closing programs. Beyond the standard speeches and welcome remarks, attendees will be led by gong players to different areas of the venue, where an art work awaits them: there will be music, dance, crafts, visual, multimedia and performance art pieces, which aim to show the audience that the art community is standing together, and that we’re here to make our presence felt and our contribution to society acknowledged. Everyone sat in agreement, and the meeting was reaching its end.

Bobby Carantesand Jose "Bubut Olarte, Jr. (musicians), Grace Fagayan (country line dancer),
Marjorie Atos-Javellana (classical pianist), Lissa Romero-de Guia (performing artist),
RL Abella-Altomonte (performing artist and festival production manager).
There were a couple of questions asked about specifics of the festival, which were all quickly answered. With everyone digesting the information, the meeting was brought to a close.

To end the meeting, everyone was invited to pour themselves a cup of coffee and get some bread for afternoon merienda. That’s when everyone stood up, had some nicely brewed coffee, had a bite to eat, and filled the room with even more creative ideas and laughter.

A typical Baguio Saturday afternoon.

By Leon Karlos Altomonte

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Had a blast reading your article, Leon. Extremely engaging. The words are efficiently chosen and scattered in a way that your article has logical fluidity and communicating effectively to your audience. Excellent!


The Ibagiw Post-Production Report

In the past few days, we have been posting the exit reports for each of the events featured in Ibagiw: The Baguio Creative Festival 2019. I...