As we welcomed the staging of the 11th Tanabata Festival at the Baguio Museum in July 2023, we also bade farewell to Hidenobo Oguni or Oguni san, founder of the 1st Tanabanata in 2009 and subsequent celebrations.
It was a feature of the “Melting Pot” exhibit of the Baguio Museum sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in celebration of the 2009 centennial quarterly celebrations of the museum.
The first “Matsuri Festival” was sponsored by the Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon or Abong and organized by Annabella Teraoka Dacones in 2004. Consul Carlos Teraoka was named Honorary Consul General.
The celebration of the Tanabata Festivals happens every 7th day of the 7th lunar month annually in Japan. It stopped momentarily for three years because of the pandemic and the temporary closure of the museum to pursue its rehabilitation under the United States Embassy’s 2017 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
The Tanabata story originates from the love story of celestial deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (stars Vega and Altair) who were punished and separated by the Sky king. Their story gave birth to the writing of wishes on colorful strips of paper hang on bamboo branches and poles with the belief that their wishes and dreams will come true.
The 11th celebration of the Tanabata Festival was its curtain call. It is one of the institutionalized festivals held at the Baguio Museum. This was institutionalized by Baguio City Ordinance 66, series of 2012 sponsored and authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda.
It is auspicious that the good councilor was also present in its final bow. Hopefully, the Abong headed by Arnel Cabanisas or the new president of the Japanese Association of Northern Luzon (JANL) Takashi Kato and Vice Presidents Yuji Sasaki and Sonoko Taguchi will continue with the Tanabata celebrations.
For this year’s Tanabata, featured was Kanazawa City, also a Unesco designated creative city. The theme was “Tanabata Festival Forever! Kanazawa Creative City In Japan.”
It also commemorated the 67 years of Philippine Japan-Friendship. Rochelle Bakisan was the curator of the 11th Tanabata Festival exhibit.
Dexter See wrote in his article at the Herald Express, that a resolution was authored again by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda which expressed gratitude to Oguni san and the JANL and wished him all the best in his future pursuits.
Oguni san left Baguio and the Philippines at the end of July.
Resolution 237, series of 2010, declared July 23 of every year as Filipino-Japanese Friendship Day in the city to commemorate the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.
During the 11th Tanabata Festival celebration, Japanese performers from Baguio and Manila regaled the guests with live and traditional Japanese dance by the Sayaw Hapon Sakura and Martial arts demonstrations of the Sugawara Sogo Budo Philippines.
A singing duo from Baguio Arille and Ac also entertained the visitors. The event was graced by Tabanda, DOT-CAR Director Jovi Ganongan, Abong Executive Director Arnel Cabanisas, City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo and Baguio Museum President Peter Ng.
There was also an awarding ceremony for the poster making contest and the decoration contest winners. Among the guests were members of the Hamada clan, Brigette Hamada Pawid and Tanya Hamada. (Photos by Chino Chow)
– Stella Maria L. de Guia