AFTER 80 days and a total number of 520 volunteers and 2,800 gallons of primer and environmental friendly colored paints, a mural, one believed to be the biggest community artwork in the Philippines was formally unveiled on June 23, 2016. The once gray and unsightly exteriors of the homes of Sitios STOnehill, BOtiwtiw and SAdjap of Barangay Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet has been transformed into a colorful work of art.
This Rev-Bloom project is the brainchild of DOT-CAR Regional Director, Marie Venus Tan, in partnership with the La Trinidad-LGU, the Tam-awan Village artists and the Km. 3, Balili Community. RD Tan said that she got inspiration from the "Favelas" found in Brazil. A favela is a slum in Brazil, within urban areas formed by massive migration from the countryside to the cities throughout Brazil. Since the mid 1990's, tourism exploration has evolved in few particular favelas mostly in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, with the largest and most visited Favela being Rocinha.
For DOT secretary Ramon Jimenez, the project goes beyond painting houses. He said that there must be a concerted effort of the people of the Cordilleras to rededicate our mountains to flowers and trees. One of the Tam-awan Village artists who conceptualized the design, Mr. Ged Alangui hopes that this project will instill more consciousness in the environment. Solar artist, Jordan Mang-osan, added that the project, in one way or another helped the homeowners prevent their roofs and walls from rust attacks.
As a resident of La Trinidad for more than a decade now, I drove past these newly transformed hill almost every day. I have seen how more and more houses, mostly unfinished have mushroomed into one unsightly cluster masking if not eradicating the lush brightly yellow-colored sunflowers that has once graced the hill at year-ends.
The project was quite ambitious for me when I first saw the layout posted right past the arc. One day I would see outlines being painted from one house to the other, which I found later on from Baguio-Benguet Photographers, Hikers Artist Club (BBPHAC) founding president Mr. Clinton Aniversario was done through painting with laser light. It was a tedious process, where the artist from the roadside directs a painter to paint the outline using a laser pointer. The volunteers contend with hand signals due to the absence of a more convenient hand held radio device. As days passed, scaffoldings provided by the La Trinidad-LGU were put into place. Day in and day out, I see walls being filled with vibrant colors as volunteers and residents pitched in their share of the project. As Davies provided all the paints for free and volunteer meals were donated by Ms. Cara Cosalan, the La Trinidad-LGU provided brushes/rollers and other materials used by the different volunteer organizations like the Boy Scout of the Philippines-Benguet Chapter, BSU-NSTP Students, KCP-NSTP Students, BBPHAC, Botiwtiw Women's Brigade and Organization,and PNP-CAR Police Trainees.
The completion of the entire project is yet to be seen with high hopes that the image of a sunflower and strawberry as designed will come into a clearer picture. For now, the appreciation lies mainly on the dramatic transformation of one community from an unsightly site into a cluster of houses with colors projecting a positive aura of the place and the people living in it knowing that such ambitious project was made possible because of communal unity, hard work and cooperation amongst the people.