“Breathe Inspiration… Breathe in Baguio”

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Baguio City’s creative community (artists, artisans, designers, creative professionals and creative organizers and managers) is again abuzz as it prepares for IBAGIW 2020:  The Third Baguio Creative City Festival this coming November 2020.  Dubbed “Breathe in Baguio,” this year’s festival is inspired by the theme ANGAT BAGUIO THROUGH CREATIVE RESILIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY & INNOVATION.   The vision is to make Baguio an Inspiring Creative City that is overcoming the pandemic crisis through creative resiliency, sustainability and innovation.  In observance of the health and safety protocols of the city, this year’s festival is designed to be multi-centered (several venues), community-based (primary audience is Baguio community and its environs) and largely a virtual/online experience, with a few face to face audience and multi-sensorial experience.

Suffering

The City’s creative industry is one of those adversely affected by the community quarantine due  to the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey conducted by the secretariat of the LGU-led Council for Baguio Creative City (CBCC) in March 2020 showed that the 600 artists and artisans who participated in the survey were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.   Their source of income (a good number from the tourists who were the main buyers of crafts) abruptly and totally ceased.  Artists were not able to create, as supply of materials were hard to obtain due to lockdowns in suppliers’ origin.  Many of them could not avail of government’s social amelioration program for varied reasons.   During an “interactive engagement”/meeting with Mayor Benjamin Magalong on April 25, 2020 at the  Baguio City Hall, the artists and artisans validated the results of the survey and put forward several recommendations on how the City Government and other stakeholders can support them.  Foremost in the “wish list” were:  1) immediate relief assistance,  2) access to social amelioration program, 3) access to supplies needed for creative work and 4) support for online selling or e-commerce and 4) spaces for actual/physical selling of creative products.

The Mayor immediately (on the same day) distributed care packs to those present in the meeting as well as those who could not leave their homes, the following days.  He also directed concerned LGU offices, government line agencies and other support groups to respond to the concerns raised by the artists and artisans.

Surviving

On their own initiatives Baguio’s artists and artisans coped with the crisis—the best way they could.   They held online art exhibits, concerts and performances to raise funds.  Others turned to arts and crafts creation as a way of emotionally coping with the anxiety caused by the pandemic crisis.  Some volunteered their time, resources and services to support the front liners in the city and beyond.

Government and non-government organizations rendered assistance. The CBCC and BTC (Baguio Tourism Council) launched the Good ACTS campaign to augment LGU funds to sustain the distribution of relief goods.   The University of the Philippines Baguio, in partnership with Baguio Arts and Crafts Collective, Inc. (BACCI) held the Mandeko Kito (Ibaloy for Let us Sell):  Artisans’ Market from June 15 to July 28, 2020.   This was a huge success.  Fifty (50) artists and artisans participated in the fair, where they sold premium quality crafts (like face masks made from various local and indigenous materials), art works and artisanal food.  We heard heartwarming stories by artists and artisans feeling quite relieved that they were able to pay the hospital bills of sick relatives, enroll their children or siblings to school, pay their bills and purchase their basic household needs – from  the income they earned from Mandeko Kito.  On September 1, 2020 in commemoration of Baguio City’s Founding Anniversary,  the City Government of Baguio – through CBCC—in partnership with UP Baguio and BACCI,  produced Crescendo:  Healing in Harmony which raised funds for Good ACTS and UP Baguio’s online learning needs.

Inspiring

The foregoing stories of coping mechanisms and survival, especially of artists and artisans pivoting towards the so-called new normal and towards recovery, are the inspiration of IBAGIW 2020.   It is a narrative of a community of creatives working in solidarity with the rest of the Baguio City community towards resiliency through creativity, innovation and sustainability.   We wish to celebrate and tell these stories to the rest of the City, the Cordillera region and the world, so that a “ripple effect” of coping/surviving and recovery is created and spread.

IBAGIW 2020 shall start with a simple yet meaningful opening program through an Ibaloy healing ritual  on November 6, 2020 at 5-6 pm.  This immediately leads to the unveiling of works by our National Artists Kidlat Tahimik and Ben Cabrera and collaborating muralists/visual artists.  The opening of the Contemporary Art Exhibit follows.   These opening events shall take place at the newly renovated Baguio Convention Center.

The rest of the month of November shall see a flurry of  well-curated events and activities such as the Mandeko Kito: Artisan’s Fair, Children’s story book on Cordillera weaving and reopening of the Museo Kordilyera exhibit on Cordillera Weaving at UP Baguio;  Art in Sunshine Park featuring Baguio’s visual artists, craftspeople and performing groups/individuals;  Children’s/youth’s design workshops at Mt. Cloud;  Artisan Crafts Competitions on premium innovative and scalable products in weaving, woodcarving, metalcraft and basketry.

Creative, Garden and Gastronomy Crawls

Another interesting highlight of this year’s festival is the restaging of Creative Crawls which promises to be better organized, well-thought out and meticulously curated.  The Creative Crawls are envisioned to  showcase Baguio’s creativity in arts and crafts, gastronomy,  gardens and nature.   It will provide an immersive, multi-sensorial experience allowing participants to discover the city’s many hidden charms.  It will also be a holistic experience that will promote creativity, culture and commerce

Dubbed Jasjas, an Ibaloy word meaning to breathe and  “life,”  the crawls consist of four circuits bearing Ibaloy place/location names.   Kawa which means center shall be where the heart of activities are located- Baguio Convention Center, UP Baguio and Sunshine Park.  Sedong which means north includes Botanical Garden, Pilak Silvercraft, Camp John Hay and Ili-likha.  Bedalan meaning east, includes Easter Weaving, Tam-Awan Village and Mt. Costa.  Ditop meaning west includes Mirador Hill, Bencab Museum and Venus Garden.

Festival Committee

IBAGIW 2020 is jointly organized by BACCI and CBCC and led by a Festival Director in the person of Marie Venus Tan and a Vice-Director, Raymundo Rovillos.  The committee is composed of:  Venus Navalta, Paolo Mercado (June-October 2020),  Ferdinand Balanag, Noly Balatero, Aris Go, Maricar Docyogen, John Arvin Molintas, Rommel Marcelo, Alec Mapalo, Leticia Clemente and Carl Taawan.  The committee is assisted by Fritz Dacquigan, Liezl Formilleza-Dunuan and Katrina Reyes.   Exhibit curators include Erlyn Ruth Alcantara for the contemporary art exhibit Jandy Carvajal for “There is Still Life” art exhibit at the Art in Sunshine Park.  The Mandeko Kito shall be curated by Analyn Salvador-Amores.

We enjoin the citizens of Baguio and its environs to participate (albeit mostly virtually) in IBAGIW 2020.

Let us BREATHE IN BAGUIO.

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