Baguio City Maintains UCCN Membership
The inclusion of the city of Baguio in the Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) four years ago was a distinction added to the many titles the city has under its hat.
But with the prestige of being part of UCCN comes the greater responsibility to support programs, plans and policies that will maintain or even enhance the gains of what has been achieved since the inception of various events and activities arts in 2017.
Believing that Baguio qualified for UCCN membership, a Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC) official announced at a press conference in November 2021 that the body was preparing to renew the membership of UCCN. Baguio to the prestigious United Nations body.
Every four years, the UCCN reviews the action plans of member cities and assesses whether these plans have been carried out as planned.
CBCC Co-Chair and Baguio Arts and Crafts Collective, Inc. (Bacci) President Raymundo Rovillos said Baguio’s arts and creative industry may have suffered greatly from the closures caused by the Covid pandemic. -19, but overall, those in the creative sector have successfully weathered the pandemic and other organizational challenges from those in the city’s creative sector.
He indicated that the CBCC and the Bacci are preparing documents to submit to the UCCN for its evaluation. Specifically, both bodies are willing to submit financial records of how people in the creative sector have benefited from being a creative city, a list of activities carried out for the creative sector, documentation of activities and policies or action plans developed to help support the creative industry. from Baguio.
“More than an international distinction, city membership is a commitment to placing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, including making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable and placing the new agenda at the heart of its future development strategies and plans, as well as joining the international community in the growing momentum of sustainable development,” said Leticia Clemente, City Budget Officer and CBCC Member, at the launch ceremony of Baguio as a Creative City in 2017.
Shortly after Baguio was selected, the Bacci was formed to serve as the decision-making body for the city’s various initiatives in an effort to comply with Unesco requirements.
The pioneering events then were the outdoor display of various arts and crafts in Malcolm Square. Pavilions designed by Aris Go of the 90 Design Studio have been set up to accommodate the works exhibited in the area.
National artist Ben Cabrera was also tapped to design Baguio’s Creative City logo, which was a set of triangles representing the Cordillera mountain range and bore the colors of the Philippine flag.
Among several pieces of legislation related to Baguio City’s compliance with Unesco requirements, the city council also institutionalized the Ibagiw Festival – an annual event held each November dedicated to the continued promotion of various art forms in the city.
Events and activities have multiplied over the years and more and more places have been opened not only as an exhibition area but also as a place to sell their creations.
Government-owned exhibition areas were at the Diplomat Hotel, Teachers’ Camp, DPS Compound’s OTOP hub, the Baguio Convention Center basement, and even Session Road, which is closed every Sunday for the sale of products produced by micro and small enterprises.
Several hotels and restaurants have also opened their doors for the exhibition and sale of works of art and crafts.
In June 2020, the Mandeko Kito – an Ibaloy term for “let’s sell” – was established as a crafts market. The locations were at the University of the Philippines Baguio, Sunshine Park, and for his last two stagings, at the Berkeley School.
The Porta Vaga shopping center has also allocated the area formerly occupied by its department store for the Layad di Kordilyera, a mini trade fair of Cordillera products.
SM City Baguio has also dedicated a larger area for displaying paintings and book art exhibits.
Woven textiles from the various provinces of the Cordillera, sculptures, metal objects, pots, among others, have also been exhibited at the Museo Kordilyera of UP Baguio, the school of Berkeley and the Department of Tourism of the Cordillera.
Already a quaint town, Baguio continues to be a favorite haunt of photographers and the film industry due to the transformation of alleys and gray concrete walls into murals.
Rue Carantes is now a colorful mural depicting everyday scenes typical of the region in the 1970s; Entering Baguio has also become more enjoyable, as apart from the pine trees, the colorful murals along the Quirino Highway, the BGH roundabout and the PNR terminal are surely welcome sights for a weary traveler or for passers-by.
UP Baguio has also been active in promoting the creative industry. During the Ibagiw Festival in November 2021, UP Baguio hosted the Agaramide Tayo, an online documentary series featuring collections from the Museo Kordilyera; Creative Fridays – a capacity building training for the creative industry; Batok: A Cultural Exhibition on Traditional Cordilleran Tattoos; cultural performances; and the Talastasan, an academic discourse on Baguio as a creative city.
We need to do more
Based on the city’s submission to Unesco, Baguio’s visions were to develop “creative hubs” dedicated to supporting crafts and folk art, offering workshops, studios, design labs, exhibition areas, to set up a Baguio City Creative Circuit that will physically connect existing buildings and venues to showcase the city’s creative spirit, engage other creative cities in crafts and folk arts, as well as ASEAN members, to participate in festivals and activities, and provide them with spaces to display creative crafts and folk art works, and partner with other UCCN members for sharing best practices.
At present, a creative circuit has not yet been completed, and other ASEAN countries have not yet been included.
In the city action plan presented at the 12th annual meeting of the Unesco Creative Cities Network on June 11, 2018 in Karow and Katowice, Poland, a permanent venue called “Baguio Exposition Hub” was also planned for avoid works of art being exhibited on a seasonal basis only. Areas being considered at the time were the Baguio Convention Center, Botanical Garden, Burnham Park, Maharlika Building, and Hotel of the Diplomats.
The Bacci has not yet officially announced a permanent art exhibition venue. The action plan also includes intergenerational transfer of knowledge and skills through tutorials.
At previous editions of the Ibagiw Art Festival, organizers have held tutorials on painting, metal crafts, and backstrap weaving, among others, but at the recent festival, no tutorials were held. .
Continuing education of tour guides on the artistic and artisanal heritage of Baguio and the Cordillera, dialogue with the Higher Education Commission, the Ministry of Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for the Possibility of including traditional K-12 crafts, and creative exploration that encourages public visitation of heritage sites and city landmarks were also discussed, but these too have yet to be realized.
In Congress, Bill 10556, which aims to create a special high school for the arts in Baguio, was approved in December 2021.
Written by Rep. Mark Go HB 10556 intends to form Baguio City High School for the Arts to nurture the creative talents of young artists and support popular arts and crafts in the city.
It would also support the city’s commitment to maintaining its creative and cultural traditions and providing sustainable livelihoods for its local artisans, Go said in a press release.
As the Bacci assesses how far it has gone in promoting art within the framework of a sustainable economy, we end by quoting Councilor Mylen Yaranon, who then represented Mayor Mauricio Domogan in Poland, who said that ‘as a creative city, she hopes that the action plan can reach all stakeholders and that the appreciation of creativity will not be limited to “art patrons” only, but that every resident of Baguio should learn to value local talents and recognize that works of art are products of an artist’s creativity and talent and therefore also deserve to be properly remunerated. – Rimaliza A. Opiña