FULL TEXT: Kidlat Tahimik’s open letter to Baguio and BACCI

On the 109th Baguio day, the indie film icon calls for more support for the city's art and artists


Published: 8:49 PM September 4, 2018

Updated: 8:49 PM September 4, 2018

KIDLAT TAHIMIK. The film icon pens a letter to his hometown and its artists. Rappler screenshot

Baguio City celebrated its 109th birthday as a chartered city by gearing towards a creative economy.

Its theme of “Celebrating and Moving Beyond 109 through Culture of Creativity” is a nod to the city’s entry last October to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Office’s Creative Cities Network, the first in the country to be included in the exclusive circle.

As part of the agreement, a creative council has been formed by the movers of the CCN entry to be parallel with the LGU’s move for a creative economy. As it turned out, the members of what has become the Baguio Arts and Crafts Collective Inc( (BACCI) are artists and academes who are not afraid to go in loggerheads with the LGU.

One of them is Kidlat Tahimik, the indie film icon who tore his Wharton diploma many years ago to craft unforgettable films like Mababangong Bangungot, I am Furious (Yellow), Sino Lumikha ng Yoyo, Turumba and Balikbayan, among others. (WATCH: #ShareBaguio: Kidlat Tahimik: Hitting the cultural brakes)

Last week, the University of Cordilleras gave him an honoris causa for his contributions to the indie film industry and to the city of Baguio. For Baguio’s birthday, Kidlat penned this love letter to the BACCI and Baguio:



Dear Fellow Trustees:

It’s an honor to be in this distinguished citizens group — united to ensure the creative genius of Baguio is harnessed for the future of our City. It is good that UNESCO’s ‘Creative City’ title catalyzed our vision — to do a roadmap toward Baguio’s creative economy – wherein artists and economic stakeholders can work together.

But, if the officialdom of our city does not institutionalize a sustained respectable policy towards its artists – BACCI cannot work in a vacuum.

As BACCI trustees, we share a deep interest in boosting the creative energies of Baguio’s arts/culture/ crafts— provided our officials wake up to the intangible contributions of a vibrant creative sector who loves Baguio. But there is a difference between appreciating sporadically the artistic sector and a sincere proactive policy to work with artists as permanent partners for a beautiful Baguio.

It’s great to read the headlines: "109th Baguio Day Highlighting Culture of Creativity." We have long waited for City Hall to appreciate Cordillera culture as a necessary ingredient to Baguio’s future. But beyond motherhood statements, can we expect actions that run deeper than a palabas for UNESCO?

There must be an inner change in our officials’ attitude towards its artists. (A city official quoted in January 2018: "Are we going to give those weirdos control over the UNESCO program?") Are the artists seeking control? We’ve been giving unsolicited support for our beloved city consistently since before the earthquake— tatlong dekada na! If only the city would reciprocate the artists’ volunteerism and accord permanent, institutional support to art/culture activities.

Look at the official attitude of a smaller LGU: Angono, in Rizal. Their Mayor (visiting Panagbenga 2018) told me Angono has an automatic appropriation for arts/ culture. And their sincerity goes beyond the budgeting: they have a special desk for cultural activities – separate from the Tourism desk! (Like a women’s desk in the Police office— with a specialized person to connect with a specialized sector’s needs.) Every year we have to beg for support. Every year we start from zero!

Only with a change in such lackadaisical attitude of our politicians toward our rich ancestral assets – can we holistically balance Baguio’s material development.

For the record, I will join the Trustees Board conditionally for a year. But on our next Baguio Day (Sept 1, 2019) if I do not see signs that City Hall has upgraded its official relationship with the artistic sector, I will resign. (75 na ako. Pagod na rin ako.) Until then, I promise to give BACCI my best – todo bigay.

City Hall shouldn’t regard BACCI as competitors for control over culture projects. Rather they should welcome our passion for a creative city, as proof that artists love Baguio. Only with such synergy will the city earn the world's respect as a Creative City. Mabuhay ang Creative Baguio!

Kidlat Tahimik
An Artist whose Creativity was Born/ Bred in Baguio