I MENTIONED in my column last week that the period 1986 to 1996 were the greatest years of artistry in

Baguio in as far as I can recall especially on the booming of art and culture activities hereabouts. I

also believe that this stemmed from the organization of the Baguio Arts Guild, the formation of the Arts

Foundation of the Cordilleras, the involvement of news organizations such as the Cordillera News Agency

and the active participation of the city government. That of course is as far as I can recall as proven by

my documentations and archived files that are no match to the things being undertaken today with exemption

to the yearly Panagbenga Flower Festival which was launched in 1995. An online search of Baguio’s art

history would lead you to Wikipedia mentioning that “many Baguio artists used the context of cultural

diversity of the Cordillera Region to establish their work. Other notable Baguio artists include Narda

Capuyan (weaving), Kawayan de Guia (painting), Kigao (sculpture), Willy Magtibay, Peter Pinder (fiber

glass sculpture, painting, mixed media), Art Tibaldo (mixed media-visual arts) and Franklin Cimatu

(poetry.)

I am quite sure however that the online encyclopedia failed to mention others like Boy Ynigues for

cinematography, father-and-son Benhur and Bumbu Villanueva for sculpture, Tommy Hafalla for Photography

and the unnamed Ifugao woodcarvers who truly created great representations of arts and crafts.

The founding members of the BAG were Kidlat Tahimik, Dave Baradas, Santiago Bose, Ben Cabrera, Inliong

Gheslani, Roberto Villanueva and Willy Magtibay. Other pioneer members were Rene Aquitania, Katrin de

Guia, Perry Mamaril, Tommy Hafalla, Briccio Santos, Wig Tysman, Vins Villareal, Shay Tamayo, Peter Pinder,

Rhona Carantes, Jocelyn Banasan, Shant Verdun, Gerry Baguio, Boy Garovillo and myself including

photographers Ric Maniquis, Ompong Tan and Mark Perez. The second and third generation artists are also in

the forefront of Baguio’s art scene creating side by side with the Tamawan group of artists as well as the

art collaborators at the Victor Oteyza Community Arts Space (VOCAS) owned and managed by the De Guias.

In the field of visual arts, one cannot miss out or ignore Baguio City’s pioneering artists who banded

together in the 70s and called themselves Tahong Bundok. These group composed of Dolly Aquino, Bayard

Aquitania, Ver Ayson, Santiago Bose, Efren Chavez, Brando Cumpio, Rolly Caluza, Boy Ebba, Mon Habito,

Steve Hamada, Jun Limpin, Athena Magkase, Gloria Orden, Dado Pascua, Pyx Picart, Tenny Patacsil, Tony

Romawac, Herwig Tysman, Ding Torio, Jun Gamueda, and Darnay Demetillo made waves with several art

expositions. The group had a memorable art exhibit dubbed “Works on Paper” at the former Pines Resort

Hotel on October 28, 1977 and this accordingly started art exhibitions in Baguio.

Towards the 80s, the group further expanded to include Ted Caja, a mentoring artist of the Holy Family

Academy and Roland Bay-an, a former employee of Dainty Restaurant who was awarded as an outstanding waiter

during Baguio City’s search for performing and notable citizens. The name Tahong Bundok was derived from

the combination of the artists’ love of eating tinunong tahong (roasted mussels) and taong bundok or

people of the mountains. The late Darnay Demetillo who was then a humanities instructor of the University

of the Philippines College Baguio served as the college’s artist-in-residence from 1978 until he retired

in 2005 leaving a legacy which is now the UP-Baguio Bachelor of Fine Arts Program.

The BFA curriculum offered in UP Baguio is an expanded Certificate in Fine Arts program with additional

general education courses that also provides training in the traditional studio arts. With Darnay around,

the fine arts program grew from a three-year certificate program to a full diploma course.

The active student population in Baguio has actually spawned various interests in animation and digital

arts, with several local artists doing work for large production and advertising agencies in the

Philippines and abroad. For several years now, the Cordillera School of Digital Arts (CSDA) owned by

Entrepreneur Raul Boncan is now doing animation jobs outsourced from big firms such as Pixar and Disney.

In the field of music, Camp John Hay’s Mile Hi or Main Club were among the favorite destinations for great

music in the 80s where the late Dave Tabligan performed and others whose names failed my memory. Writer-

poet Frank Cimatu once said that if you are from Baguio, you should know Lady Valerie, the organist of

Pines Hotel. At one time, the Baguio Writer's Group wanted to mount a get-together concert and sought the

whereabouts of Valentin Rios Torillo aka Lady Valerie so that he can join city councilor Richard Carino

who also used to play piano at the Hyatt and Pines Hotels. I actually met Torillo no longer ladylike and

looking very much like a musical maestro at Iggy’s Place during art patron Des Bautista’s birthday and the

pianist intimated that he actually wanted to be back in Baguio if an offer allows him to make a living in

this city.  

(To be concluded)