Re-Imagining Baguio

                RATIONALE / BACKGROUND                 

The fine arts have traditionally been the focal point of most cultural events in Baguio particularly visual arts. In the early stages of the preparations for Ibagiw, while ensuring that the crafts and folk art sector would be given more prominence, various visual arts exhibits were included in the list of activities. And while we planned to allot exhibit spaces to various art groups and individuals, we also worked hard to gather enough funding to be able to commission works by visual and installation artists. Aside from funding, we were also brainstorming for a theme that would tie the exhibits together.

Early in August, a local filmmakers’ collective, ArteSine, approached Karlo Marko Altomonte, festival creative director and also consultant to the Creative Desk of the City Government of Baguio, with a proposal for an independent film festival. After several meetings, it was agreed that an activity for independent filmmakers would instead be included in the list of activities for Ibagiw, with ArteSine as the lead partner in that activity. Originally planned as simply an exhibition of works by local independent filmmakers, it was eventually agreed that it would instead be a competition with five awards to be given – Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Actor (male or female). But this evet also needed a theme.

In the early stages of the pre-production phase, we working around the exploratory theme of “The Barrelman 2.0” – essentially taking the traditional and re-imagining it to come up with innovations and other fresh ideas. But eventually, the final theme that was presented and approved by the BACCI board and executive committee was “Made in Baguio,” meant to celebrate and highlight what is uniquely Baguio’s distinct art and cultural skyline. But the need to foster innovations and cultivate new ideas remained as an underlying goal, and a theme for the exhibits was born, “Re-imagining Baguio.”

Altomonte made the creative judgement call to use this theme as the title for an activity that would feature three different forms of artistic expression. In a backgrounder for this activity, Altomonte wrote,

“Baguio has come a long way from being a largely uninhabited pastureland, to an American hill station in the early 1900s, to today's bustling cosmopolitan. In these two exhibitions of commissioned works and a film competition, local artists share their portraits & stories of, impressions on, visions & aspirations for Baguio.” 

                THE MURALS                


One of the goals of the project management team in the staging of Ibagiw was to spread the resources available to reach as many artists as possible. With this in mind, it was decided that instead of commissioning individual artists to create paintings, groups would instead be given grants for the creation of 12 murals that would be exhibited along the center island of Session Road. 


The activity was open to groups composed of at three to five visual artists who must submit a proposal that included a concept/rationale and a rough sketch or study of their mural.

In early October, the call for submissions were made on the festival website, Facebook page and published in local newspapers. The deadline was set on October 25, 2019.

There were 30 proposals from different groups received either via email or delivered in person at the secretariat office. 12 groups were chosen and each group was provided the following:

- A cash grant
- A blank board measuring 12 by eight feet, primed
- Assorted paints courtesy of major sponsor Boysen Paints

The following are the groups whose proposals were approved and their eventual final output:

(Photos of the murals courtesy of Ompong Tan)

"Rider of Kafagway"
Ili-likha artists led by Joyce Mallare
with Erin Sales, Avrane Blas Pagadian and Delfin Torres

"Rebirth, Regrowth, Rebuild"
Dreams and Spectrums with Lily V. Castillo, Keziah Dacaimat,
Femy Dhania Lamsis, Rochelle Freya Jadormio and Jannelle Wille

"Idkasin ay Idwani"
Chou Darwin T. Corpuz,Alan Besa,
Stefan Heise and Steve Joshua

"Baguio Wonderland"
Solid Line Works with Robin Bautista, Joey Delos Alas,
Egon Catral, Val Zhiest Anthony Bawin,
Rey Carlos de Guzman Florendo, Thomas Crossland
and Angel Moran

"Futuristic Sagada Women"
Pasa-Kalye artists headed by Salvador Cabrera in collaboration with
Roland Bay-an, Jerwin Libatique, Joseph Domirez and Maya Abigail Matib

Venazir Martinez with Handiong Kapuno and Giulliene Sanchez

"Siyak in a Box"
Gaea Claver, Leandro Magtibay, Dorothea Maranan, 
Iya Regalario, Ray Martin Yodong and Ton Vergara

"Baguio Deer"
Ginto Baguio with Larla Mae Lapena, Mark Lalata, Karl Carino,
Guillermo Ocampo, Jethro Ruel Mata

"Baguio: Home of Young Creatives"
Alumni of Baguio City National High School – Special Program for the Arts
with Christopher Laguitan, Fritz Nibaten Turqueza, Fey Rosete,
Henry de Vera and Arvin Clark Gali

"Trade-off in Unguarded Human Progress"
Pasa-Kalye artist Ronald Allan F. De Leon
with Sonia Oyam, Cecil Robin, and Gail

Ged, Koji and Kenjo Alangui

"Tagtagainep ni Nanang"
Senior High School students of the University of Baguio
Jeorge I. Montero, Glynesha Kaela F. Villanueva, Gabriel Rodriguez Cortez,
Mystariya Manicawa Lubante, Miguel Alfonso Soriano
and Adrianna Christina Phares Torres

Aside from the cash grants, the artists were also informed that ownership of the works would remain with their respective creators and that their murals could be made available in an auction. In a meeting with the participating artists on October 20, 2019, a uniform base price of P40,000.00 for the auction was agreed upon.


In the next few days, the groups worked day and night to finish their respective murals. Others preferred to work during the day, while some had no choice but to work after sun down as in the case of the students from the University of Baguio who would come to work on their mural after class hours. Artists who had day jobs worked late at night until the wee hours of the morning.

All groups were applying finishing touches in the morning of November 16, 2019, a few hours before the festival’s opening gala.


Right after the opening ceremony at around 10:00 PM, the group that was commissioned to fabricate the mural frames and install the final works, together with volunteers from the 14th CAR RCDG of the Philippine Army and members of the project management team, transported the murals to Session Road. Installation work continued until the early hours of the following day, November 17.

Re-Imagining Baguio: The Murals exhibition was officially launched at sundown later that day and upon the suggestion of City Tourism Officer Alex Mapalo which was well received and welcomed by the secretariat and the artists themselves, the exhibit was scheduled to continue until the end of the year.

The first day of the exhibit fell on a Sunday, a car-less day for one lane of Session Road. But to enable people to take a closer look at the murals, we requested the City Government of Baguio to close both lanes for a few hours in the late afternoon, which was granted. So after the brief opening ceremony where BACCI Chair and President Adelaida Lim and Engr. Mapalo delivered speeches to congratulate the participants, some of the artists proceeded to interact with and discuss their respective works with the audience. The murals were an instant hit, a steady string of people could be seen closely viewing and having their pictures taken next to the murals.

Soon after the closing of the festival, on November 28, 2019 the team behind the staging of “An Enchanting Baguio Christmas” requested that the murals be taken down already to give way to the city’s Christmas-themed décor. An announcement was immediately made the following day on the festival website and Facebook page, complemented by personal text messages to the concerned artists, as follows:

Announcement re: The Murals on Session Road. 

To give way to the Christmas-themed decor, we have been requested to end the exhibit on Session Road and we are proposing for the murals to be transferred to the Diplomat Hotel where we've made plans for their continued exhibition. As soon as we get the approval, we will most likely have to make the transfer tonight.

To the artists, we apologize for this change in plans and rest assured that we're doing all we can to ensure the safety of your respective works.

Please contact the Ibagiw Secretariat if you have any concerns re: the move, and also if you want to volunteer to help with the transfer. The Secretariat is now back at the OTOP Center, Upper Session Road.

Thank you very much!

In the evening of November 29, 2019, the murals were taken down from their perches on Session Road and transported back to the Old Diplomat Hotel, where they are all currently on display except for one which was borrowed by the City Environment and Parks Management Office to adorn their office wall.

                THE INSTALLATIONS                

The call for submissions for the commissioned installation art pieces was made at the same time as the murals. And as with the other activities, the call requested interested artists or group of artists to submit proposals that included the concept, a rough sketch, dimensions and list of materials to be used and the total cost of creating the piece, inclusive of the artist’s professional fee.

There were several proposals that were submitted, and the number of installation art pieces that the festival could commission depended on first and foremost, the concept and its artistic merits, feasibility and lastly but also quite importantly, the total cost.

Four proposals were approved:

by Sulo Projects (Jake Espiritu and Iya Regalario)

Artists’ Statement

The Baguio Place Identity and the Arts

Nationalism is, in essence, a form of place identity – a sense of place, attachments and bonds – developed in a place which individuals have and believe enough to kill or die for. In these times of national turmoil over imperialism and sovereignty, simultaneously happening with the ever-advancing social media and cyber lifestyle, there is no room for a city like Baguio to have a city-wide identity crisis.

Founded in 1905, Baguio is now over a century old with inhabitants still lacking a proper name to identify with. The implications of the lack of place-based identity is a disarray of urban design, unguided architectural policies and environmental decline. Evidence of this lack is manifested through the tireless patronage for the Lion’s head carving in Kennon Road as the city’s beacon. In addition, up until today, there haven’t been a word to describe the people of Baguio.

Art has long been the history teller, while the artist serves as the culture bearer of any given place. Promoting the arts effectively promotes place identity, subsequently guiding bigger decision-making into a quality and life-centric community. Hence, the emergence of “Ibagiw” – a culture and arts festival that celebrates the city’s people – and its place-oriented etymology is quite a fitting word to call Baguio dwellers.

The question is, “Who is Baguio?”

What better way to answer this than through art.

Jake Espiritu and Iya Regalario were the first to submit their proposal to the Ibagiw secretariat. They also had one of the most comprehensive proposals, which included the statement above, visual rendition of the proposed art work, project schedule and cost.

The piece, which was installed at the “Minac Garden,” the smaller of the two courtyards of the old Diplomat Hotel, featured a steel frame in the form of a male bust covered with a surface material that blends into a backdrop of a mural. At sundown, the piece comes to life with moving patterns projected onto the artwork,

“Tension Sculpture” 
by Anna Cecilia Schmidt

Photo courtesy of Spiral Twig (Facebook)
Artist’s Statement

This art deco piece, a large-scale textile installation that unfolds as it is stretched out, stands about 14 meters in diameter. It gives the illusion of a levitating sculpture despite its being solid. With the help of a few black lights, the sculpture will start to glow as day turns to night.

This modern art form is a low cost and light weight solution to temporarily define and beautify a space, with a function of a canopy that cast some shade over the spectators. It is durable to weather, easy to travel, requires no specific frame work, and can be installed in remote places.

I wish to give the viewer the same sensation as looking up into the night sky – the multitude of star that makes us feel small and our problems insignificant and the wonder that we get to be a part of such a complex universe.

The piece by Schmidt shared the space with Sulo Projects’ “Bantay” at the Minac Garden. On certain nights, Jake Espiritu also projected moving patterns onto the tension sculpture along with “Bantay” which had the two art pieces complementing each other making them seem like one installation artwork.

“Crab Mentality”
by Sonny Balanga

Artist’s Statement

Crab mentality is not a Filipino trait. In fact, every society from the past to the present has this bias. Only in the Philippines the terms were coined and used. It can be an individual thing; sometimes, a whole community’s. To others, it is a quest – a vendetta that cannot be quenched until the desired outcome is fulfilled. To what extent an individual, group, a conglomerate can elicit such acts. Psychology, sociology, anthropology has the answers…

Crab Mentality is not a disease, so it has no cure. It just pops out from our psyche. We are paradoxical beings, we cannot co-exist, just like a U2 song.

A wise man that stayed in Baguio once said: “Just ignore it… or you can confront it. The choice is always yours.”

Photo courtesy of Carlo Villafuerte
The installation was composed of a translucent luminous plastic mold of a human brain on a pedestal being swarmed by crab shells. The statement that the artist was making was further underscored by the strong odor that the crab shells, which weren’t totally dried, stared to give off after a few days and filled the Camdas Room where it was exhibited.

“Luminous Recuperating Reflections" 
by Raquel Diokno

Artist’s Statement

As stated in RA 9262 or the Anti Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004, this protection order is issued for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against a woman and/or her child in their households and granting other necessary relief to pertained victims.

The broken mirrors depict the pains and injustices. The eyes symbolize the broken dreams, lives, and social schemata of the said victims. The whole mirror represents hope, encouragement, and self-acceptance, while the pieces of paper represent acceptance and encouragement of other, which will reflectively make all their voices resonate triumphantly.

We are forgetting the former victims who are still struggling for ages to heal and cope up with the injustices done against them. This installation will show or lead to infusion and involvement into the healing process through their words of encouragement to make them whole again.

A triptych mirror, small broken pieces of glass hanging from strings along with scribbled messages on pieces of paper made up this provocative installation art piece by Raquel Diokno. Installed at the Carentes Room which had a window facing west, the whole room glowed towards dusk with the amber light from the setting sun reflected by the broken mirrors dancing all over the walls.

                THE SHORT FILM COMPETITION                


Originally, there were two planned events for film – a screening of classic mainstream movies that were filmed in Baguio at Balanghay ni Ikeng at Ililikha and the commissioning of short films by young local filmmakers that would be screened at the main festival venue. But due to lack of funds to finance all of the planned events and activities, the calendar of events had to be streamlined and certain event had to be downscaled.

After several consultative meetings with the festival’s partner in this area, ArteSine, it was decided that a short film competition instead be launched.

Open to local filmmakers, and still under the theme, “Re-imagining Baguio,” entries must have a running time of at least 8 to roughly 15 minutes. Although later on, upon the request of the conveners of ArteSine, the requirement of adherence to the theme was eased to allow the entry of existing works as long as the films were made by local filmmakers. A maximum of eight finalists would be selected and publicly screened at the Balanghay ni Ikeng, Ililikha Artists Watering Hole.

The festival would handing out five awards: Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Actor (Male or Female, Lead or Supporting). Awarding will take place during the festival’s Closing Ceremonies. Winners would be receiving medals, certificates and cash prizes.


First mentioned in the first Ibagiw press conference at the Baguio City Hall on September 19 and further advertised online throughout the month until October 2019, the deadline for submissions for this competition had to be moved several times, always in consultation and with the approval of ArteSine, to accommodate more entries, particularly films that were being produced at the time specifically for the competition. The final deadline for submissions was set on November 8, 2019.

By midnight of November 8, 13 entries were received by the Ibagiw secretariat. Some were sent via e-mail, the rest were delivered in person. Of these, eight were selected:

by Daniel Edwin O. Delgado and Tiara Angelia Nicolas,

by Daniel Edwin O. Delgado and Kennette Jade Aquino,

by Daniel Edwin O. Delgado, Tiara Angelia Nicolas,

"Siyudad Na May Kaluluwa" 
by Gelo Lagasca

by Jezreel Ian C. Manuel,

"(God Bless) For Sale" 
by Power House Productions (Paul Brian Tulioc Baldoza)

"Manang Klara" 
by Kriskyril Dann S. Martinez

by Jerusalem L. Ham


The premiere night of the screening of the eight entries was scheduled on November 18, 2019 at 6:00PM.

Since the venue, Balanghay ni Ikeng, the cinematheque designed and built by National Artist for film, Kidlat Tahimik, could only accommodate 60 people comfortably, both the project management team and the volunteers from ArteSine agreed that the cast and staff of the eight chosen films would be prioritized. It was also agreed upon that for the next three days, two screening schedules would be offered to the public: a matinee at 3:00PM that would feature the entries that didn’t the cut, while the 6:00PM screening would feature the eight finalists.


At the Ibagiw Closing Gala on November 24, 2019 held at the Baguio Heritage Hill and Nature Park, the winners were announced:

“Siyudad na May Kaluluwa” by Gelo Lagasca
Best Film

“Death Wish” by Daniel Edwin Ortaleza Delgado and Tiara Angelia L. Nicolas
Best Screenplay

“Banbantay” by Tiara Angelia L. Nicolas and Marc Julius Mendoza
Best Cinematography

Giulienne Sanchez for “Siyudad na May Kaluluwa”
Best Actor

Gelo Lagasca for “Siyudad na May Kaluluwa”
Best Director


The project management team would like express their gratitude to ArteSine, whose support helped make Ibagiw Short Film Competition a success – from providing support in the promotion of the activity to providing volunteers to serve as ushers and technical crew during the screenings. As a token of this gratitude, Ibagiw presented ArteSine with a certificate of appreciation and a humble donation to the group.

*With annotations by Eunice Caburao, stage manager in-charge of the activity. 

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