AS A neophyte reporter, I have covered city events as early as 1984 like when Baguio City officials under then Mayor Ernesto Bueno forged sisterhood ties with delegates from Hanyu City of Japan. Hanyu is located in the most northern part of Saitama Prefecture on the island of Honshu, Japan and it is known for its traditional industries that include textile dyeing and clothing production and was famous for its indigo production especially during the Edo period. It was also during that period when Japanese officials inspected the site of the Baguio Sewerage treatment Plant at Sanitary Camp before its full operation by the mid-80s.
After the Edsa Revolution, I was employed as a government public information officer and attended twinning activities by visiting city representatives from other countries such as Hangzhou, China, and Shepparton of Australia.
I haven't been to these places yet but in 1995, I had the pleasure of attending a sisterhood ties gathering in Vallejo City as a side trip when I was in California for the First Igorot International Consultation that year.
I recall that part of the criterion or guidelines set by the Philippine International Sisterhood and Twinning Association or PHISTA for a sisterhood city ties to be observed and justified is the commonality of certain characteristics such as education, tourism, and culture among others so that better exchange programs can be planned and implemented.
Hangzhou, for example, which is the capital of China's Zhejiang province, has interesting places like the Grand Canal waterway which has been depicted and celebrated by poets and artists since the 9th century.
Locally, the Science City of Muños, Nueva Ecija became a sister city of Baguio perhaps because of its educational system as the lead in the Science Community and the seat of the Regional Research and Development Center in Central Luzon. The other local sister cities of Baguio include Angeles City, Alaminos City, Bacolod City, Calbayog City, Daet (Camarines Norte), Davao City, Dipaculao (Aurora), Lopez (Quezon), Lucena City, Makati City, Mandaue City, Marawi City, San Carlos City, Ormoc City, Pavia (Iloilo) and Zamboanga City. The last LGUs that signified its intention to be linked with Baguio's twinning program was Sudipen, La Union and officials from my mother's place also attended a Panagbenga flower fest where the city tendered a welcome dinner for them.
With Baguio's designation as a Creative City by Unesco in 2017 for crafts and folk art that represent an essential cornerstone of the city's local trade and creative tourism economy, I actually toyed with the idea that perhaps the city can likewise be promoted as the new art capital of the Philippines considering its dynamism in the varied disciplines like visual arts, music, literature and so on.
However, I felt that it is unfair to grab the distinction that the municipality of Angono has earned and been attached for decades. As a young fine arts student back in the days when I was studying in Manila, I had seen and met the artists belonging to the well-known Blanco family in Angono when we were invited by a classmate who is also from the place.
The visual art trend of the place showed a great influence from the conservative style of one of Angono's own, National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco which we often term as "realistic" which is a direct opposite of abstract. Angono is also home to Lucio San Pedro, a Filipino composer, and teacher who was proclaimed a National Artist of the Philippines for Music in 1991.
While Baguio City is well supported by its various creative sectors in keeping such distinction, other places like Cebu, now a Unesco Creative City for Architecture and Angono can actually be integrated as among the country's lead in the creative industry and I likewise anticipate these three destinations as sister cities in the months to come.
During my two travels to Honolulu, Hawaii, I actually touched base with local counterparts and I even had the chance to be introduced to mayors Haneman and Caldwell during courtesy calls arranged by Filipino expatriates.
The other international sister cities of Baguio are; Cusco of Peru, Gongju, Seoul, and Taebaek of South Korea, Karuizawa, and Wakkanai of Japan, Honolulu of Hawaii, USA, Taxco of Mexico and Voughan of Ontario, Canada.
I heard that trade missions are being planned by the city officials of Baguio but perhaps because of the current COVID-19 situation worldwide, these are likely being postponed or shelved for now. Meanwhile, I am willing to volunteer and be part of the Baguio-Angono exploratory talks on possible sisterhood undertakings should anyone from Cebu and Angono especially its local government and art community are willing to help formulate working papers for said twinning exercise.