January 31, 2023

Around 300 individuals participated in the Hilom: A celebration of yoga and wellness for the International Day of Yoga 2022 at the Baguio Convention Center on June 19.

It is the first time the International Day of Yoga (IDY) to be celebrated on this scale in the Summer Capital.

The event brought together different yoga teachers, studios, and groups from around the city and the rest of the country, along with various industry experts on nutrition, fitness, and meditationto share healing practices with the Baguio community.

Admission was free for all, but donations were encouraged to help raise funds for the benefit of the Anxiety and Depression Support Group of Baguio.

What began as an invitation by the Embassy of India to organize a simple yoga event for IDY soon became a successful city event backed by the City Tourism and Special Events Office, the City Mayor’s Office, and a list of willing sponsors.

From a humble dream of sharing yoga and planting seeds of healing and solidarity, founder and director of Pranalaya Yoga and Wellness, Gelie Dela Peña led the event team that consisted of eight other yoga teachers: Jason Tengco, Jennifer Francisco, Ybottee Corinn Cajucom, Dra. Trish Pinto, Raja Shanti Bonnevie, Nover Miguel Maglanoc, Maureen Florendo, and Fara Manuel.

The entire team worked under the premise of “Seva,” the Sanskrit word for selfless service, to plan, and execute this event that had the intention of bringing the Baguio yoga community together to celebrate this special day.

Hilom began with an 8 a.m. Ashtanga-led half-primary series followed by the official opening ceremony graced by Mayor Benjamin Magalong and City Tourism Supervising Operations Officer Alec Mapalo.

A beautiful prayer song entitled “Hilom,” originally written by sound healer Jashon Fabia and sang by Lorraine Docayso, also opened the event.

The day was closed by a 7 p.m.sound healing session facilitated by sound healers Miqo Dionisio, Jashon Fabia, Natasha Perez, and Kristin Calim from Bulacan, Quezon City, Laguna, and Las Pinas City, respectively.

The entire day’s program was full of hourly yoga classes and wellness talks happening simultaneously in the Baguio Convention Center’s main hall and breakout room. There were also various selfcare products and food booths in the lobby. The event saw guests from Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Cebu, and Manila, but most of the people who celebrated Hilom were city residents.

Magalong expressed his admiration for the event and its intention.

“This is the first time that we are holding this kind of event, and I hope sana tuloy-tuloy (I hope it continues on),” Magalong said.

The mayor also mentioned the benefits of yoga and how it can be practiced by anyone because, at its core, it is a personal journey of healing and transformation. 

Mapalo, for his part, also shared his enthusiasm for the event, saying “Hilom has brought together providers of health and wellness services and products in Baguio City, attracting the health conscious and even those who are just starting to be health conscious or seeking wellness programs and activities.”

He added:“It’s just about time that we build up this tourism product segment, which is reflective of how the Americans envisioned the city in the 1900s, they saw a hill station and mountain resort city for wellness and recreation. The city plans to drum up this untapped yet existing tourism segment, including medical tourism, and will plan for a bigger health and wellness expo next year together with all the stakeholders in this sector, as started by Hilom, which encapsulates the essence of our new destination brand #BreatheBaguio… the place where you enliven your body, mind, and soul.”

The event’s successful turnout resulted from the seeds that all of the yoga communities and practitioners in Baguio have planted and nurtured for many years.

The beauty of a yoga and wellness festival like this is that amidst a global pandemic, people in Baguio have paved paths of healing and mindfulness.

Also, after being isolated and confined to practicing at home for the last two years, a gathering such as this is something many have missed. 

Since 2015, the IDY, celebrated worldwide every June 21st during the summer solstice, has been a United Nations-sanctioned event, as the UN is pushing to highlight the importance and need for yoga in the contemporary era.

The observance of IDY also aims to raise awareness about the benefits and heritage of yoga by bringing people together to experience yoga as a community.

The theme for 2022 is “Yoga for Humanity” – the celebration focuses on sharing the message that yoga can be a powerful tool for improving physical and mental health.

The following Baguio yoga/wellness studios or groups are the participants in the event’s program. If you are interested in learning more about yoga,meditation, fitness, or other wellness practices, you can explore these local studios, teachers, and communities found here in Baguio and other parts of the country.

These are the Pranalaya Yoga and Wellness, Ashtanga Yoga Baguio, The Yoga Room, Ananda Marga, Yoga at Hatch, Dr. Danne Janne, SoulCreates108, Northern Luzon Pranic Healing Training Center, World Institute for Incurable Diseases WIID, Dr. DJ Diaz and Atty. Ellen Cabuhat, Dr. Gwendolyn Cayad, Anytime Fitness, Odyssey Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, Shift+, Bernadeth Alalag, and Move You Better.

The Anxiety and Depression Support Group Baguio City, spearheaded by Ricky Ducas, was the chosen beneficiary of the event.

Ducas and his team have been working on the ground in and around the city to help people get access to mental healthcare.

For those who wish to support their cause, or if you or somebody you know is struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, you can contact them through their helpline 09190696361.

With more events like this in the city that highlights an untapped tourism segment, Baguio City can advance into becoming a health and wellness destination for years to come.

Namaste and happy International Day of Yoga.