July 25, 2024

Alert level 1 is bolstering the celebration of the Baguio Museum’s 45 years since its founding in 1977.
The 30 months of implementation of the United States Embassy’s grant entitled “2017 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation” was extended to 45 months because of the pandemic and other unforeseen events.
Hence, 45 is an auspicious number for the Baguio Museum as it commemorates its Sapphire Anniversary this year. Blue Sapphire is a symbol of abundance, wealth, good luck and prosperity which we hope will bless the coming years of the museum managed by a working and respectful Board of Trustees headed by Fred Bagbagen.
It partially opened in October 2021, for a very limited capacity, in response to visitors who kept on asking in our Facebook account, if the museum was already opened to the public.
The Baguio Museum Incorporated is a non-profit private organization or foundation. Built in 1975, almost at the same time as the Baguio Convention Center, the Sunshine Park, the Melvin Jones grandstand and the tourism complex by then Tourism Minister Jose Aspiras and Baguio Mayor Luis Lardizabal.
It was to be a showcase for the 1978 World International Chess Championship between Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi in Baguio. The historical event happened from July 18 to Oct. 18, 1978. The collections or artifacts of the museum date as far as 1947 when then first woman councilor, vice mayor, and acting mayor Virginia Oteyza de Guia collected them from friends in the Cordillera. The collections were first displayed at the City Hall, later transferred to the University of the Philippines and found its home at its present site at Governor Pack Road.
It was first named Baguio Mountain Provinces Museum, in honor of the governors, mayor and private sector representatives who supported its cause. It was renamed the Baguio Museum in 2010, upon the suggestion of then Mayor Mauricio Domogan, it was identified as Baguio’s “community museum”.
The Baguio Museum was debilitated by the July 1990 earthquake. After two years, the building was demolished and rebuilt in 2002. This was after an arduous wait of nearly 10 years.
Chairman Jose Laya of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts thru the representation of then Vice Chairman Edna Anton and Executive Director Leonora San Agustin inspected its temporary place at the back of the Baguio Convention Center. The chairman took pity on the sad state of the museum and pledged to rebuild the first floor or basement of the museum. Then mayor Domogangave the approval to rebuild the museum at its present site in 2001 following the memorandum of agreement signed by MOT Minister , then also Philippine Tourism Authority Chairman Jose Aspiras and Mayor Luis Lardizabal in July 1975.
Mayor Domogan also vowed to complete the three floors and the surroundings of the museum. Voila! Sure enough, Domogan has fulfilled his promise during his stint as congressman. He rebuilt the other three floors and turned the building over to the Board of Trustees in the presence of the then NCCA Chairperson and Department of Tourism Usec. Evelyn Pantig.
The turnover of the building was accepted by then Chairman of the Board Nicolas Tabor witnessed by the Board of Trustees and the Baguio community. Since then, the NCCA had continuously supported the rehabilitation and refurbishment efforts of the museum, including its marketing program for the Centennial of Baguio. NCCA also financed the construction of the glass sarcophagus of the mummy in 2016.
A providential visit of U.S. Embassy Grants Officer Edwin Raymund Vergara in November 2016 paved the way for the Baguio Museum to comply with requirements of the U.S. Embassy in Manila’s “Call to Proposals” scheduled in December 2016.
The grant was called the 2017 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Development. A 30-month project that covered the following: 1.) the training of the staff of the Baguio Museum and other small museums in Baguio, the Cordillera, and Northern Luzon, 2.) the conservation, preservation, and reinventory of its artifacts, and 3.) the infrastructure rehabilitation of the interior galleries.
The Baguio Museum applied and won the grant for the Philippines together with 30 other winners all over the world. Conservation work started in December 2017 and was supposed to end on March 2020. Then the pandemic happened. The project was postponed. It started again after seven months on September 2020 with the completion of protocol requirements for the workers.
The extension finally ended in June 2021. The project team composed of Architect John Michael Astudillo, Conservator Consultant Orlando Abinion, the Curator Consultant, the Project Assistant Director and Project Director continued, mainly to finalize the aesthetic components of the galleries.
Prior to the pandemic, a “soft launching” of the Cordillera Gallery was held in July 2019 with H.E. U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim as guest of honor accompanied by Grants Officer Matt Keener in time with the celebration of Philippine-American Friendship Month.
A commemorative plaque was installed to mark the occasion. The museum closed its doors to visitors during the pandemic but continued with the infrastructure rehabilitation completion.
The Baguio Museum cultural programs were held in abeyance except for the production of a “Virtual Tour” program called “Turo Tour-uan series” which started with Benguet Province.
Again, providentially, with Baguio on Alert level 1, the Baguio Museum can now prepare for the grand reopening in July 2022, which was originally scheduled for July 2020.
We thank God for taking care of this museum even in times of calamities. May our Sapphire Anniversary usher in generous donors and benefactors to our doorstep to continue this time, with the rehabilitation of its exterior surroundings like: its roof, its landscape and parking facilities, and finally, to help us modernize our digital library facilities.
The Board of Trusteesis extremely grateful to prior sponsors and donors and Mayors Bernard Vergara, Braulio Yaranon, Peter Rhey Baustista, Mauricio Domogan, and Benjie Magalong for their support for the last 18 years.
Happy Sapphire Anniversary Baguio Museum!
May these 45 years give you more prosperity and abundance. May you gain more support in the preservation of our tangible and intangible heritage.