「旅行 Le Voyage」Reaching your dream in Baguio, philippines

At the first time i was talking about Baguio to my friends, there are two completely different voices. For many philippine people (artits) know, Baguio is a spiritual place. A place where you can reconnect, recharge and renew your spirit.

The City of Baguio is a highly urbanized city located in the province of Bengue in northern Luzon island of the Philippines. The city has become the center of business and commerce as well as the center of education in the entire Northern Luzon thereby becoming the seat of government of the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Baguio City was established by the Americans in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. The name of the city is derived from the word bagiw in Ibaloi, the indigenous language of the Benguet Region, meaning ‘moss’. The city is at an altitude of approximately 1,610 metres (5,280 ft) in the Luzon tropical pine forests ecoregion conducive to the growth of mossy plants and orchids.

The temperature was really nice in Baguio, when we stayed here for three days, it was around 20~23 degrees in the Middle of March. Good for escaping the humid weather!!

Street view in Baguio
Street view in Baguio
Street view in Baguio
Street view in Baguio

VOCAS is a special art spaces in Baguio, located in the penthouse of the five-story building. It houses eclectic art pieces and is a venue for local artists and musicians to gather and share their art.

VOCAS is Victor Oteyza Community Art Space.
VOCAS is Victor Oteyza Community Art Space.

The left painting is Victor Oteyza painted by Bencab. Oteyza was a self-taught artist who was first an engineer at the University of the Philippines (UP). Eventually, he ventured into the world of advertising. Aside from being a painter, Oteyza was a musician, director, and writer.

VOCAS
The art space-cum-resto features a permanent gallery for Victor Oteyza, the Baguio artist who was one of the 13 modern group originals in the 1950’s that pioneered in Philippine Modern Art.

In 2001, a memorial for Oteyza was started by his nephew, alternative filmmaker and artist Eric De Guia, better known as Kidlat Tahimik. Tahimik saw fit to dedicate a space for his uncle who was also one of the heirs of the La Azotea Building along upper Session Road, Baguio City.

VOCAS 02
Part of view in VOCAS. It is a theater stage for original music concerts and home-grown presentations. Kawayan, me and film maker Raya.
VOCAS 03
They showcase Indigenous artists’ exhibition.

In order to continue and extend the mission of VOCAS, Kawayan and other Indigenous artists are building up another art space where is easy to find on the ground. They are planing to take another five years to finish this place and schedule some of arty programs with local residency such as high school kids.

assumption
Assumption, Another place built by Kawayan and Indigenous artists.

Another hidden crisis comes by the development of Baguio City, so they are preserving the treasure as much as they can. Many artists like Santos, who is from Ifugao and expert in wood carving, has impressive life experience working for Japanese government to clean and collect Japanese soldiers’s dead body during WWII. And nowadays, he is putting all his energy to preserve Ifugao culture.

assumption 02
All the spaces, furniture here are recycled, and redesigned by Kawayan and Indigenous artists.
Wonderful cabin in the Assumption.
assumption 03
They are expert on handicrafts, sculpture, and sound art!!

Many artists come from Manila such as Dex Fernandez and overseas, they are willing to assist and create new community of art. Hence, they also work with restaurant in long-term process. One of the project is they took bus and marked every space they had been, it is like journalist who wrote down every detailed in the community and share the thoughts to everyone. By this way, villages become closer, and for people who comes another cities could respect their culture. Art become a good methods to solve society problems, everything is possible here.

Restaurant
By collaborating with restaurant, everything is possible in Baguio.

Kawayan means “bamboo” in Tagalog, and the tall, lanky, soft-spoken Kawayan de Guia bears the name well. Although Metro Manila is the bastion of the mainstream Filipino art scene, he resides in his hometown of Baguio, in the Cordillera mountain region that has been the subject of many of his works.

Through his exposure to diverse cultural experiences spawned Axis Art Project, a bi-yearly arts festival – as an avenue to educate and connect bridges through art, that caters to local and international artists willing to engage in the common seed that is awareness within and outside of one’s community. Currently, he is also one of the curators for the Singapore Biennale 2013.

Kawayan's studio
Visiting Kawayan’s studio, he is definitely Baguio artist who represented Indigenous contemporary artist in philippines.

Since Last year, I found i have half blood with Taiwanese aboriginal blood. “Siraya” The are indigenous people of Taiwan. The Siraya settled flat coastal plains in the southwest part of the island and corresponding sections of the east coast. The Siraya are one of Taiwan’s Pingpu peoples—that is, occupants of flat coastal regions rather than mountain areas.

Like other indigenous peoples of Taiwan they are ethnically and linguistically Austronesian. The name “Taiwan” historically originated from the Siraya language. The Austronesian language family to which Sirayan belongs includes most of the languages spoken in the western Pacific, including Polynesian, Indonesian, Filipino and Malaysian.

Taiwan and Philippines are so close in the aboriginal culture but faraway from each other.

Kawayan and I are talking about Indigenous cultures which should be respected and preserved as the important heritages. There are some languages are same with each other, in geographic saying we are so close, but we are so faraway to each other at the same time.

When American came to Baguio, they trained indigenous people as police.

Well… After exchanging information overnight with many friends, we decided to visit Bencab museum, which is established and donated by artist Bencab. Bencab museum is not only the indigenous museum but showcasing the diversity to the audience.

Bencab museum
Bencab museum
Cordillera gallery in Bencab museum
Cordillera gallery in Bencab museum
Erotica gallery in Bencab museum
Erotica gallery in Bencab museum
Bencab gallery in Bencab museum
Bencab gallery in Bencab museum
Contemporary gallery 1 in Bencab museum
Contemporary gallery 1 in Bencab museum

It was comfortable and relaxed hanging out in the afternoon. The entire place was a work of art. It was no wonder that it was so beautifully created since the design of the entire place was done by one of Philippine’s finest artists, Mr. Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, more famously known as BenCab.

Garden in Bencab museum
Garden in Bencab museum

The entire experience was super wonderful!! We were just enjoying art at BenCab Museum and what we got was way more than that. Yes, at that point, I was sure that Baguio is a spiritual place. A place where you can reconnect, recharge and renew your spirit!!!!!

Street view in Baguio
Street view in Baguio

Many thanks to Catalina Africa, Kawayan, Sean, Santos, and everyone in Baguio!!! 🙂

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