‘Creative City’ festival to help displaced Baguio craftsmen
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Many artists, musicians and souvenir item makers in the city were rendered jobless when the lockdown and the subsequent quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic shut down the tourism sector.
All leisure businesses were closed from March to September, forcing the tourism industry to absorb P1.6 billion in losses.
To get by, many of these artists and craftsmen have since shifted careers or have relied on food and financial help from the city government and charity projects put up by groups like Good ACTS (Artists and Craftspeople Trust Support).
Now that Baguio is welcoming back tourists, the city’s top artists and craftsmen are gearing up for the Third Ibagiw Creative Festival this month with hopes that it will help them recover.
Reliant on tourism
The annual event was established in 2018 after the city became the country’s first representative to the creative cities network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Based on a survey conducted by the Council for Baguio Creative City (CBCC) in March, most of the city’s 600 “creatives” lost their income after the Luzon lockdown, said council vice chair, professor Raymundo Rovillos, who is also chancellor of the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio.
Local traditional trade craft, such as woodcarvings, woven textiles and other souvenir items, rely heavily on tourists to thrive.
Tourists, who will pass screening and allowed in Baguio this month, may take part in “creative and nature crawls” to be held every weekend, and visit parks, art hubs and crafts-making centers that have been cleared as low-risk areas by health officials.
Each crawl will take visitors through at least four hours of the city’s creative center (“khawa” in Ibaloy) to view a curated gallery of contemporary art that will be on display at the Baguio Convention Center starting Nov. 6, as well as an artisans’ fair, called “Mandeko Kito” (Let’s Sell), to be hosted by UP Baguio.
Creative crawls have also been designed for a nature walk through the city’s botanical park and forests, and a visit to silver shops and the art village and museum of National Artists Kidlat Tahimik and Ben Cabrera.
The festival is oriented toward the community and has put up skills competitions among craftsmen. It will also allow plant hobbyists to showcase their gardening skills through a landscaping contest.
The creative cities network was conceived as a sharing mechanism for the world’s urban communities where art and crafts have delivered lasting and significant contributions to their economy.
Baguio was designated a Creative City in 2017. Cebu City followed suit in 2019. —VINCENT CABREZA
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