Thursday, December 09, 2021

Tibaldo: Baguio arts scene then and now

Consumers atbp.

THE first art gallery in Baguio that I recall seeing as a young aspiring artist was that of Efren Chaves' Baguio Art Gallery at the and corner of lower A. Mabini St. and Carantes St. It was actually a makeshift structure at the backstreet and corner of the Stewart Building ruins at Harrison Road near a place called Udyong's where one can have a shot of gin for 10 centavos.

I believe that Baguio during my childhood was wanting creative activities other than the display of wooden Buddha, deer hunters, saluting Indians, the rice god Bulul and the man in a barrel and that phallic symbol carved by the Ifugaos of Asin Road as souvenir items for tourists.

Baguio then was a favorite spot for movie location shooting and I saw several actors and actresses like the Aristorenas family having their break at an old house at the back of YMCA along Sandico St. At one time, my father's services as a fumigator of the city health office was tapped for a fogging effect of a horror movie that starred Rod Navarro in Dracula Goes to RP.

The Karate regulars of YMCA particularly the Bernal brothers and Manny de Leon who became law enforcers were also among those that had bit roles in action movies as they were among those who I often see whenever I pass by the gym on my way to the Mabini Elementary School.

I've been drawing human figures as a child and I had a fascination with superheroes from DC and Marvel comic magazines. Before I get to study human anatomy as a subject of my fine arts course, I have already sketched and made drawings of Bruce Lee and other Kung Fu characters with defined muscles complete with their six-pack abs and biceps.

I was in Manila studying at UST when several art and tourism events happened in Baguio like the controversial Grand Cañao, the Karpov-Korchnoi Chess Match, and the Exhibit of Tahong Bundok at the old Pines Hotel.

I have seen the illustrations and drawings of Jeffrey Carantes depicting Igorots particularly the Ibalois from book and magazine covers and in a way, the UP-Baguio professor's work inspired me to depict Cordillera culture in my painting thesis.

Looking at the works of my fellow BCHS alumnus Joel Rodriguez Dizon of The Gold Ore, I actually wanted to do editorial cartoons after college just to introduce my pen name Artibal in print publications but I ended up contributing news photos before I became an editorial cartoonist from 1985 to 1988 at the now-defunct Cordillera Post.

Prior to the 1986 EDSA Revolution, I had a one-man-show at the Easter Weaving Room during an anniversary celebration and at the former Old Pagoda of Laperal Building along Session Road when its proprietors left the country at a time when there's looming civil unrest.

We eventually formed the Baguio Arts Guild between 1985 and '86 after a series of art exhibits, visual installations, and performances with artists like Ben Cabrera, Santiago Bose, Roberto Villanueva, Baboo Mondoñedo, and some Bacolod artists who decided to adopt Baguio as their home. There was a healthy collaboration of painters, artisans, musicians, literary writers, theater artists, and even local folk singers and many creative events became part of Baguio's tourism activities that were looped with concerts at the park and woodcarving competitions.

There was International Art Festivals that stemmed from the formation of the BAG led by creative stalwarts Bencab, Kidlat Tahimik, Santi Bose, and Roberto Villanueva, and the concept of curating events became a regular thing in Baguio with the involvement of Su Llamado, Baboo, Laida-Lim, Katrin de Guia, Narda Capuyan and officials from the city tourism and Department of Tourism.

Today, younger artists are getting into the scene and they are taking the lead in orchestrating events that followed the designation of Baguio as a Unesco Creative City. With architects replacing their drawing boards with computer programs like AutoCad and graphic artists and movie producers now using software such as 3DS Max to produce moving images, visual artists like the men and women behind the Pasakalye Group of Artists remain traditional in crafting their artworks. Let us check out their works along with other artisans and collaborators for the Ibagiw 2020.


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