Friday, December 4, 2009

Open Forum

We recently wrapped up Open Space’s tribute to the city on its centennial year, BC09AD, held last Dec. 2-3, 2009 at the Baguio Convention Center. The event was a collaborative effort of the Baguio-based multimedia arts group and featured performances of the aforementioned musical, a visual arts exhibit that captured the different facets of this cosmopolitan city and screenings of two documentaries on Baguio. The first three matinee performances were attended by elementary and high school students from various schools in the city, while the lone gala performance had some college students from UP Baguio and St. Louis University together with some friends in the community.

In that two-day event, we exhibited a hundred images celebrating the beauty of this city, or what’s left of it. We held the history of this city up high and projected it on a screen and froze moments in Baguio’s journey from being a mostly uninhabited pastureland to a highly-urbanized city for everyone to see. We sang songs that asked, “ano ba’ng tama, kasaysayan o titulo?”; “ano ba’ng plano niyo sa Baguio?”; “pang-aabuso sa kalikasan, kalian niyo kaya ito titigilan?,” that told its audience to: “ang mithiin ng Baguio, isapuso, isulong at itaguyod mo.” We also reminded them that: “ang kailangan ng Baguio, ikaw at ako.”
After each matinee, we held an open forum where the students can direct questions to the cast and artistic staff or make comments about the performance. Among the questions thrown to us were:

“What was your intention in staging this event and what do you intend to accomplish with this undertaking?” I remember the excitement the filled the Baguio air when we greeted the year 2009 – this was our centennial year, a once in a lifetime event. I looked forward to the grandest celebration this city has ever seen – I was expecting festivities way bigger than whatever they had here when the then townsite was declared as the official summer capital in 1903, or when it was chartered as a city in 1909; parades that would be way more grander than any Panagbenga parade; a Charter Day like no other that would definitely be etched in the minds of us lucky enough to have lived within this lifetime. September 1, 2009 came and went. Poof. And I, together with the members of Open Space, thought that the city deserved much more on its 100th year.

So, despite the lack of sponsors and other means of support from both the government and private sector, we went ahead and put together this multimedia tribute where we can tell the story of our city to as many people as we can, and hopefully reawaken our audiences’ sense of history, culture and their sense of community as we write Baguio’s history in the next 100 years today.

(photos by RL Altomonte, Eunice Caburao and Jojo Lamaria)
“How long and what did it take you to put this together?” A month of brainstorming, a few months of 4-hour rehearsals everyday, a hundred photographs and ten paintings, lots of scrap jute sacks, a hundred hours of video footage, and an unlimited supply of love for this city from the group’s members.

A high school student asked, “What inspired you to stage “Kafagway: Sa Saliw ng mga Gangsa?” I answered, “You.”

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