Art has always been part of a culture, a city, a community -- a celebration and appreciation of life.
Baguio City has been branded as Creative City by UNESCO last year. If you have not been to Baguio City or if this is your first time hearing about it, it has been Philippine's Summer Capital. When you think of summer, beach usually comes to mind. However, due to its geographical position, Baguio is cool and a fitting place to escape the heat of the scorching sun. Vistas blessed with pine trees (albeit dwindling) earned this place its title.
Now, as one of UNESCO's Creative City, there is one more reason to travel to this city and be exposed to arts.
Aside from its fresh vegetables and flowers and Panagbenga Festival, Baguio is also known for its carvings, paintings and drawings. There are lots of places to see such: Tam-awan Village, Botanical Garden, Ben Cab Museum, UP Baguio Museum. Colorful weaving is also of interest and you can see those in bags and other fabrics sold in the market. You may also want to visit Easter Weaving to see different designs from different cultures that Baguio City and the Cordillerans are proud of.
The recently concluded Entacool had showcased a lot of artistry and talent from different artists. The city was painted and arts were installed everywhere. Some parks were filled with crafts for sale. Cultural performances were also witnessed in some places.
"Enta" is derived from the Cordilleran word entaku meaning let's go and cool describes Baguio City as a whole.
I want to share just a peek. First stop, Diplomat Hotel.
Prayer Mountain and Tourism Center
This Heritage & Nature Park is more famous for its Diplomat Hotel that sits on top of Dominican Hill. From its name, the Dominican Order acquired this land in the early 1900s and built a vacation house. World War II did not escape it. The Japanese captured and occupied this during the war and it was said that they committed unbearable acts of cruelty, torture and all sorts of evil. One part of the building was bombed by the American forces and because they knew there is no escape, the Japanese committed suicide.
After the war, it underwent restoration.
In 1973, Diplomat Hotels, Inc. owned the property and turned it into a hotel. It was managed by a local businessman and "psychic surgeon" who unfortunately died from ailments brought about by brain hemorrhage and heart attack. The hotel ceased operation after he died and it was then abandoned.
The building is now under the local government and declared as a National Historical Site. It is now a tourist spot and a favorite place for workshops especially photography. It is no wonder then that this important structure was used to exhibit art installation during the Entacool Festival.
Tinatik (from the words tina meaning ink and tik meaning drop) is a craft of Maela Liwanag. Her work, Mahal Likha VII, was hung from the building's lobby and greets you as you enter and start your tour of the place. This particular art tells about different religion and implies about the message of interfaith. It tells that we all believe in one Creator and thus, we are one and all is all.
Different works from various artists were also displayed in strategic places.
These woods and left over candles were remnants from an activity that was held here one night during the week-long celebration.
Different rooms were installed with arts from different artists. Notes were posted on the entrance to help visitors know what each art was all about. However, we are still free to interpret how you perceive such and how these installations speak to you.
In one room, Sulong Likha: Ano Bato symbolizes the different groups and sectors which make the country and how they come together to be strong as one. A rock is suspended from the ceiling held by a rope. The thread symbolizes the different people which helps hold the rock up. The mirror reflects how one can be easily broken if nothing will hold it up.
The different sectors of the society are epitomized by the paintings on the walls surrounding the room. It is a strong visual illustration that we should work together as one. No matter how different we are in our beliefs, we should find a common ground to unite.
Award winning writer and theater director Angelo Aurelio made this installation to depict the play "Anatomy of an Octopus Woman" which was first witnessed at Baguio City Jail. This performance imitates the life of women in jail mostly involved in illegal drugs. It was through the effort of Baguio Theater Artists & Community to involve these women in rehabilitation and reintegration through theater and performance.
Randy Gawwi's bamboo bird's nest is installed in one of the courtyards. It is said to "blur the distinction between nature and man."
Kigao Rosimos' Gutom (means hunger) beautifully depicts a pressing problem everywhere - hunger brought about by poverty. Tablets of bas-relief plaster casts were hung adjacent each wall.
Pasakalye Teens: Art Banners. Scroll-sized acrylic paintings by the young people of Pasakalye Group of Artists are Baguio Themes done for the the launching of the creative city celebration.
Carl Taawan's recycled art installation. Old CDs are turned into mandalas and phonographic records are cut into images like Beatles and Game of Thrones.
Mark Tandoyog's lightbox installation. This aims to take you on a journey - a journey to self. According to the note, Tandoyog experience transcendence through the physical and spiritual world while walking in one of the tunnels of Asin Road and through this lightbox installation he wanted to capture that and share it.
This is my favorite of the set so far. The images are haunting and at the same time intriguing.
One area of the building was turned into a gallery and also you can have your portraits sketched and tattoo artists are also available during our visit. If you don't want your portrait sketched, then you can opt to turn your body into an artistic canvass. In fact there were willing subjects that time.
I am not sure if you have to pay to have these works done but I am most certainly that there's a corresponding fee.
Here are some photos of paintings hung in the gallery.
Because of how old the structure is, restorations and retrofitting are constantly done to ensure stability and also safeguard people who go there.
Because of its history, Diplomat Hotel is also notorious for its haunting. A local company takes you to haunted places here in the city and you will miss a lot if you don't spend time here. There was even a movie filmed here and while filming the movie there were reported accounts of haunting. Nevertheless, this is still one of the enticing places for workshop, photoshoots and other events.
The sun was setting fast when we had our visit. During these months, darkness sets in early. Due to it's strategic location, on a good day, this is a perfect site for sunset viewing.
There is also a small chapel near the entrance to to the compound. A huge tablet is erected there where the ten commandments are written.
To get there, take a Dominican Hill-bound jeepney behind Abanao Square Mall beside Maharlika Livelihood Center. Ask the driver to drop you off Diplomat Hotel. Taking a cab is also an option.
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Forest Bathing Trail
Also known as the Yellow Trail, this was also named by the Department of Tourism as Forest Bathing Trail to serve as personal retreat and be one with nature. This located in Camp John Hay and it is an easy trail to traverse. Depending on how fast you would like to spend soaking in nature, you can spend a quality time here for you and/or with your friends or family. Every time I come here, it's always a refreshing trip.
Hikers, joggers and horseback riders are welcome here. I wonder why they do not allow bikers anymore. Bikers used to frequent this trail and we always encounter bikers every time we come here.
This is great time of the year to come here when everything is lush and in bloom. It is invigorating to spend your time here. To fully immerse yourself to Baguio experience, I highly recommend this place.
These are new installations that you will see along the trail. These bamboo wind chimes are done beautifully but more beautiful to listen to them.
Here's another short clip of the first installation that we saw. I got excited when I spotted it that I wanted to spend more time listening to it.
There were at least 4 or 5 of these chimes. Poems were also posted beside each chimes: Breathe, Listen, Relax, Heal.
There are also signage along the trail wherein numbers are posted that you can contact in case of emergency.
Some of the trees are felled by the recent storm. An example is this one big tree.
Not only that. The trail was not saved from the storm because a landslide can be seen in an area along the trail.
Near one of the entrances to the trail and near Treetop Adventure, there is also a Butterfly Sanctuary that you can visit. However, we opted to continue our hike to another trail which is shorter than the Yellow Trail. There is also a kart area and designated picnic areas. For picnic goers, fees are collected for use of the ground or tables.
Entrance to the Eco-Trail, there are several activities that you can also do such as target shooting, a short zip line, etc. There used to a be a butterfly sanctuary but since this is not frequented because the location is more hidden, they transferred it where it is more visualized.
This is the trail that is close to the golf course. However, the golf course is off limits to hikers for safety and to protect the golf course.
So this is where our trail ends. When you visit Baguio City, don't forget to experience forest bathing. It's free!
To get there, take a Loakan-bound jeepney beside BPI Harrison below McDonald's Session. Tell the driver to drop you off Camp John Hay. Once there, get to Filling Station and follow the trail behind it. Find where the horses are and ask from there.
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