Issue of November 5, 2017

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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The Astudillos, Glenna, and Aliw Awards

Did you ever wonder who planned the biggest attraction in Baguio – the Lion’s Head at Kennon Road? What about the black murals at the entrance of the Botanical Garden, or the Igorot statues at the rotundas of Camp John Hay and Baguio General Hospital? Or who was behind the Cemetery of Negativism at Camp John Hay? Walking to the overpass at Harrison Road, you pass by the Malcolm’s bust and the topography sculpture near the DBP building? Whose ideas were the symbolic figures at the rotunda on top of Session Road?

Well, think no more, they are the Astudillo brothers, in collaboration with first city architect Joseph Alabanza. The Lion’s organization of Baguio needs to be congratulated for such an epic attraction.

Roberto Astudillo, the father of Architect Michael John Astudillo, was the Camp John Hay illustrator-artist when he designed the Cemetery of Negativism, a popular tourist destination at John Hay, and the renovated Camp John Hay museum. He was a contributing artist behind the black mural at the University of the Philippines Baguio.

Black murals were started by Francisco Astudillo in the ‘60s. Murals were painted black and dry, brushed with gold dust on the embossed areas to give it an antique look.

Francisco Astudillo, brother of Roberto, was a contributing designer of the old Baguio Mountain Provinces Museum during the time of Department of Tourism Minister Jose D. Aspiras. He worked at the City Planning Office of Baguio with Arch. Alabanza. He was the artist behind the famous black mural at the entrance of the Botanical Garden, later called Imelda Park; and the old Igorot concrete statues within the park. He also did the topography sculpture near DBP Bank at the bottom of Session Road, found before the overpass at Harrison Road. He also did the bust of Justice George Malcolm at the Malcolm Square, now called the People’s Park. He also did the Igorot concrete murals at the Melvin Jones (destroyed by the July 1990 earthquake), the Igorot statues at the historic rotunda of Camp John Hay and BGH, and the mural at the Loakan Airport.

Astudillo’s milestone contribution to Baguio while he was at the City Planning Office was the design and construction of the Lion’s Head at the Kennon Road in collaboration with Arch. Alabanza and the Lion’s Baguio organization.

Alabanza said the rotunda on top of Session Road is a symbolic work of art, as it signified the signing of the Baguio Charter and the statues represented different nationalities.

It is no wonder that Arch. Mike John Astudillo, who master planned the five-year plan of the Baguio Museum, has a similar passion and has been drawn to museum work, preservation, and design. He did the newly inaugurated glass sarcophagus and state-of-the-art shelves. Growing up in an original Baguio house coupled with the guidance of his family of artists, especially his dad and uncle, influenced his desire to be involved in arts, architecture, and historical and heritage conservation. His work is more of passion to conserve and preserve, more than the monetary equivalent.

His involvement with the Baguio Museum included a coffee table book on Baguio Highland Homes, a “compendium of Baguio houses from the 1900s to the present” exhibited at the Baguio Museum last October 2013 in coordination with the United Architects of the Philippines-Summer Capital Chapter funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; a Baguio Day exhibit entitled “Baguio Art and Architecture” again in coordination with the UAP Summer Capital; the fire safety plan of the museum; the historical photo exhibit in canvas funded by the U.S. Embassy for the Baguio Museum in 2016 entitled “Colonial Hill Station: From Health Resort to the City of Pines” now on display at the Baguio Gallery; and his fifth project was the partial “2016-2017 Enhancement of the Cordillera Gallery” involving the glass sarcophagus of the “Mummy” and the two new display panels focusing on the ethno-linguistic artifacts of the Cordilleras in a more contemporary style funded by the National Commission on Culture and Arts through the initiative of Museum Assistant Curator Gemma Estolas, as National Committee on Museum representative.

He was also tasked to do the five-year architectural design/layout, cost estimates, and photo documentation of the 2017 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Development, which was chosen by Washington, D.C. with 30 other countries under the guidance of the U.S. Embassy Grants Officer EdwinVergara.

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Congratulations Gelo and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Baguio Cast and Creative Team for their 2017 Aliw Awards nominations. Hard work and heart work really pay off. The jail theater production “Anatomy of an Octopus Woman” bagged the following nominations: Best New Performance Concept – Anatomy of an Octopus Woman, Baguio City; Best Performance (New Concept) – Hiromi Meguro; Best Performance (New Concept) – Benjan Natividad; Best Performance by an Ensemble – Jail Inmates of BJMP Women's Jail; and Best Director (New Concept) – Angelo Aurelio.

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Happy birthday, Glenna Castillo-Banta! It was indeed a happy reunion for the DOT-Philippine Tourism Authority employees, some of whom came all the way from Indonesia – Connie Nartates; United States – Abet Villanueva and Armi Legaspina; Vigan City – Razel and Vic, Jojo Oracion, Esther Payfon, Janet Pelaez, and Josie Mamaril from Baguio. Thank you Guian and Chay for the invitation. Please join us DOT-PTA employees in the next reunions on Nov. 11 at the Baguio Museum and Dec. 9 at tita Gay’s Happy Tummy at Loakan Airport.

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