December 8, 2023

The Filipino-Indian community is preparing for the celebration of the “2nd Colors of Incredible India 2019” with bigger and fun-filled activities.
Last year’s activities focused on the economic contribution of the Filipino-Indian businesses and bazaars that used to line upper Session Road, like the old Bheroomulls and Fil-Indian stores, then to lower Session Road like Bombay Bazaar, Valirams, Phohumulls, and the Indian Bazaar; then the establishment of the new Bheroomulls and Assandas at lower Session Road. Session Road used to be called the Baguio Escolta. Mayor Isko Moreno is also eyeing the restoration of the old Escolta in Manila.
The economic contribution of the Fil-Indian community is recorded in the annals of Baguio history. Dry goods businesses dominated the market scene in the 1920s before and after the war. Daluram used to own Pines Lumber in Rimando, which was one of the first lumber stores in town. Other dry goods stores followed in Session Road, Magsaysay and Hilltop, while a lumber store was established in Rimando Road.
Valirams was owned by Udharam Valiram, Sarda’s, Capital Bazaar by Bukchand Jagwani, Popular Bazaar by Tilok Gangaramani; and the People’s Bazaar by Tolaram Budhrani, father of Chandru Budhrani, the first entrepreneur who ventured into the blanket business in Baguio.
The Baguio Museum under President Fred Bagbagen is happy to partner again with the Filipino-Indian community, this time to focus on the 550 years of Mahatma Gandi Jayanti and the 550 years of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The date to watch is Nov. 22, a Sunday. “Colors of Incredible India 2019” will feature cultural presentations, a historical mural exhibit, video documentary, ethnic food, music, and dances.
Ajaz Ashraf writes, “As India commemorates the two-year-long celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi starting 2018, veritably deified as the Mahatma in his lifetime, Gandhi will be hailed for demonstrating to the world the efficacy of nonviolent resistance against the injustices of the powerful. To him, we will credit our emergence as a nation, of winning freedom for India without having to pay an extortionate price, for valiantly crafting the Hindu-Muslim unity and waging a ferocious battle against the menace of untouchability.”
On the other hand, “Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with much enthusiasm and reverence by the Sikh community. Guru Nanak was a religious guru (teacher), a spiritual healer who founded Sikhism in the 15th century. He started the composition of Guru Granth Sahib by contributing 974 hymns. The main teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib are based on the philosophy of one creator. It expressed selfless service to humanity, social justice, and prosperity for all, irrespective of the demographic differences.”
Ramlabhaya or “Ram” Sharma heads the activities together with other prominent members of the Filipino-Indian community.
To date, there are about 500 members of the Fil-Indian community in Baguio. Second and third generation heirs have taken over and are continuing the legacy of their fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers. As examples, Ram took over from his father Tulsiram Sharma, Deepak from his father Shankerdas Punjabi, Chandru Budhrani from his father Toleram Budhrani, and Paul Lalwani who used to work with Bukchand Jagwani, has his own businesses now.
Historical accounts in the Philippines state that Fil-Indian relations started to normalize in 1976 when Aditya Birla, one of India’s successful industrialists, met with then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and explored joint ventures. This resulted in the establishment of the Indo-Philippine Textile Mills which employed about 2,000 Filipino workers and supplied 40 percent of Philippine domestic yarn.
The current event is also in celebration of the 71st anniversary of Philippine-India diplomatic relations pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 1924 which designated November as Philippines-India Friendship Month by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Happy birthday to my daughter Reggie and welcome home Per, Pata, and Genie. Bon voyage to the two Kidlats, Tahimik and the senior.