Issue of November 12, 2017
Mt. Province

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Artists laud Baguio’s inclusion in UNESCO creative cities list
by PNA

Baguio City’s declaration as the first Creative City in the Philippines by the Unesco elated internationally-known artists in Baguio who have been helping promote the Philippines and the city as an art haven.

National Artist Ben Cabrera or BenCab said the city hosts many renowned artists who have made a name in the international arena.

The presence of establishments and places where artists can express themselves through art, as well as places visited by art-loving people to appreciate artworks, is one of the things that makes the art scene alive, he said.

BenCab moved to Baguio and Benguet in 1985 and established himself as a member of the arts community.

Together with other artists like Baguio born and raised filmmaker “Kidlat Tahimik,” BenCab formed the Baguio Arts Guild, which is now an international organization that annually hosts the International Arts Festival.

Several other museums and artists’ havens have also been established in the city.

BenCab said artists in Baguio are very active, and not just the older ones but even the new generation of artists making a name for themselves in their respective fields.

He said tourists flock to Bencab Museum, which averages 1,000 visitors a day, to see his works and that of other artists in the country whose famous pieces are on display as part of the collection.

For Baguio to maintain its status as a Unesco Creative City, BenCab advised that “environmental concern should be utmost.”

Dr. Divina Bautista, president of the International Delphic Council, the counterpart of the arts body that organizes the Olympic Games, said, “I’m very happy that finally, Baguio has been recognized as a culture and crafts place.”

“The city’s recognition is going to put the Philippines in the world map,” she added.

Bautista noted that since the 1970s, the city has already been hosting artists because they know that they belong in Baguio.

She said culture and arts is part of humanity. “It is culture that makes the country famous. Remember the names of Beethoven who made France famous, Chopin who marked Poland in the map, and Johann Sebastian Bach of Germany. All these things, they make the country famous.”

Bautista said there is a big chance that the Philippines and Baguio City will achieve the same status, especially with the many Filipinos who have started to make a name internationally.

“They will also make the country very famous,” she said.

Bautista said that if the Olympic Games is all about sports for the body, the Delphic Games is all about the arts, the games of the mind and spirit. It is held every four years and hosted by different countries.

She said the Philippines, Baguio, and the Cordillera consistently make a good record in the Delphic Games.

“In 2011 in Jeju, South Korea, the Philippines ranked number three,” after bringing home medals in wood sculpture, digital arts, and shadow play, among others.

“We have gone to many Delphic games and we are doing very well. We are not wanting of artists to send in international competitions,” Bautista said.

She expressed hope that the city would soon have a culture and arts council. 

The Unesco announced Baguio’s inclusion in the Creative Cities Network on Nov. 2. The network was created in 2004 “to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development,” according to the Unesco website.

It uses the framework of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets international priorities for economic, social and environmental development with the aim of strengthening international cooperation between cities; strengthening the creation, production, distribution and dissemination of cultural activities, goods and services; developing hubs of creativity and innovation; and fully integrating culture and creativity into local development strategies and plans.

The network covers seven creative fields: crafts and folk arts where Baguio was recognized; media arts; film; design; gastronomy; literature; and music.

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