Baguio: A city of arts, culture and all things cool
Venus Tan, Coo of TPB, at the Dominican Hill exhibit with the “Bird Nest” artwork behind her.

Baguio: A city of arts, culture and all things cool

MISS TECH - Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2018 - 12:00am

Baguio City has always played host to a vibrant art community,” said Venus Tan, COO, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and past regional director (2015 to 2018) for the Cordillera region. “The city has had art festivals in the past so there is no need to reinvent the Unesco Creative City membership, which we got in 2017. EntaCool Baguio Creative Festival promises to establish Baguio as the center for national art and folk crafts creativity in the Philippines.” 

On the cool evening of Nov. 10 Baguio City hosted its first-ever Creative Festival. The week-long event promoted local talents and skills in folk arts and crafts. Spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT)-CAR and the TPB, it was a first of what Baguio City hopes to make a year-round festival, aimed to raise awareness on what and who makes Baguio a creative city.

The grand opening of EntaCool was held at the majestic Dominican Hill Heritage Site, which was converted into an art gallery with the most unique art pieces by Baguio locals.

Spearheading the festival were Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, TPB COO Venus Tan, Philippine National Commission for UNESCO secretary general Lila Ramos Shahani, DOT-CAR OIC Jovita Ganongan, BACCI chair Adelaida Lim-Perez and UP Baguio chancellor Raymund Rovillos.

 “About a year ago Baguio was officially designated by the Unesco as a Creative City network and this singular achievement boosted it among the world’s best,” said DOT Usec. Enrile. “The campaign made by the government, academe and private sector helps bring the city to the fore. With EntaCool we hope to revive the image Baguio City and the Cordilleras as a premier mecca for art and artists to highlight the important role that the creative sector has in the development of the country.”                                                                                                                                         

“The EntaCool Festival gives us not just a glimpse but a full experience of Baguio society through the arts,” said Congressman Go. “We have nature paintings depicting the unique Baguio environment, human sculptures portraying tribal warriors and indigenous women, abstract murals also heavily showcase our cultural past — here in Baguio the art scene is strongly vibrant and unique.”

Aside from the artworks on display that evening, the festival also highlighted the launch of the first-ever forest bathing trail at Camp John Hay, the opening of Bell House exhibit and the city-wide creative crawl tour.

The event was graced by by TPB COO Venus Tan; DOT Undersecretary Edwin Enrile; Baguio Rep. Marques Go and Governor Crescencio Pacalso; head executive assistant to the DOT Secretary Ace Padua; TPB deputy COO for marketing and promotions sector Arnold Gonzales; deputy COO for corporate affairs sector Joselito Gregorio; Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) chair Margie Moran; Philippine Tour Operators Association Inc. (PHILTOA) president Ceasar Cruz, vice president Fe Abling-Yu and secretary general Emy Malate; John Hay Management Corporation president and CEO Allan Garcia, Camp John Hay Development Corporation COO Sean Bedi, president John Robert Sobrepreña, and vice president Jane Theresa Tabalingcos.

Baguio UNESCO Creative City

Outdoor and indoor installations at the Dominican Hill in Baguio City

One of the movers of the event was the inclusion of Baguio City as one of 64 cities from 44 countries worldwide to join the Unesco Creative Cities network in 2017. Baguio now has the responsibility to promote creative industries and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies, hence, the first ever Creative Festival.

The festival dubbed as “EntaCool” was packed with activities including cultural presentations, gallery exhibits, art discussions and demos and workshops by master artisans.

The name “EntaCool” was coined after the two words that make Baguio what is is today.  “Entaku,” which is a Cordillera indigenous term for “let’s go” and “cool,” which is commonly used to describe Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines.

 The Creative Festival also featured different exhibits on weaving and metal crafts, graffiti arts, tattooing, plein air or the art of painting outdoors and portrait sketching. There is also a gallery of photos and artworks by national artist BenCab featuring “old Baguio,”  as well as a solar drawing demonstration by notable Pyrography artist Jordan Mang-osan.

EntaCool provided a venue for artists to convene and share their experiences on a wide range of topics on culture and the arts. This included demo workshops on silver and metal crafts, weaving and fabric tie-dyeing; one-on-one mentorship on the creative economy; and a mini book and ‘zine fair.

Featuring local masterpieces on film and media art, the creative festival hosted an independent film festival, a public screening of local independent films, as well as a cultural concert featuring local bands and performers.

Rediscovering the healing power of Baguio’s forest

Opening EntaCool at the Dominican Hill in Baguio City are DOT Usec. Edwin Enrile; BACCI chair Adelaida Lim-Perez; TPB COO Venus Tan; UP Baguio chancellor Ray Rovillos; Lone District of Baguio congressman Marques Go and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) chair Margie Moran

In an effort to revive public interest in Baguio as a place to heal, recuperate and reconnect with nature, the TPB and DOT-CAR partnered with John Hay Management Corporation and Camp John Hay Development Corporation in launching the first-ever Forest Bathing Trail at Camp John Hay. The forest trail allows visitors to absorb the energy of the trees, leaves, sky and the earth.

The concept to reposition Baguio as a destination for relaxation and rejuvenation is actually the reason why it was discovered in the first place. They built sanitariums and hospitals for the sick but believed that the natural healing powers of Baguio — its lush greeneries, pine trees and cool wind — helped cure the people.

“This is the first time that we have a forest bathing trail in the Philippines and we encourage people who come here to appreciate the weather, smell the pine-scented air, relax and stay longer,” added Tan.

Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku is a Japanese practice of going to the forest to reconnect with nature and improve one’s health, well-being and happiness.

The Forest Bathing Trail spans a trek of four kilometers through a forest floor covered with thick and soft pine needles, pine tree canopies, and rich foliage of different floras. There are also eight stations for people to rest and meditate, each with its own massive bamboo wind chime installation by bamboo craftsman, composer and artist Edgar Banasan. The relaxing melodies produced by the chime when caressed by the cool Baguio wind combined with the scenic view of the mountains create a soothing effect that calms the nerves.

 With the opening of the Forest Bathing Trail, Baguio proves that it is more than a place for shopping, entertainment and leisure. It is also a sanctuary where people can rediscover themselves, unwind and reconnect with nature, heritage and culture.

Baguio is a city growing not just with the Panagbenga festival of flowers but now with its arts and culture scene — and more.

Truly a cool city.

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