CORDILLERA IN MY MIND by Jojo Emelda, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24, in 2018 — NICKKY FAUSTINE P. DE GUZMAN

BAGUIO’s Tam-Awan Village is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a travelling art exhibition featuring artists it has worked with through the years. Naturally, some of the subjects are about nature, the culture of the Cordillera, and the indigenous peoples and their artefacts like a native bag or bracelet.
The ongoing exhibition is called Tam-Awan @ 20: Celebrating Two Decades of Unwavering Passion for Culture and the Arts, and its last stop is at The Bellevue Manila in Alabang. It is on view at the hotel until Aug. 3.
Before settling at the hotel, the traveling exhibition made stops at the Ayala Museum’s AristSpace, SM City Baguio, and its home base, the Tam-Awan Village, a sanctuary in Baguio City that is made to resemble a traditional Cordillera village in order to preserve the Ifugao houses where art exhibits, workshops, and live cultural showcases happen.
The participating artists come from all over the country — what holds them together is that they have worked with Tam-Awan Village. Some of the artists are indigenous peoples from the north like the Kankanaey, Ibaloi, Bontoc, Ibalan, Ifugao, and Balangaw.
The Chanum Foundation Inc. came up with the idea of the Tam-Awan Village in 1998. Chanum — an Ibaloi word that means “water” — aims to promote and preserve the environment and cultural heritage of the Cordillera.
Now a popular tourist destination, Tam-Awan Village is also a hub for art enthusiasts where they can exchange skills and ideas, and understand indigenous customs. It also has a café and original Cordillera huts for lodging, which cater to tourists and workshop participants.
Currently, the Tam-Awan Village has 15 to 20 member artists with the youngest being 19 years old.
“The legacy of Tam-Awan Village really is the art wokshops, particularly those for the youth,” said Jordan Mang-osan, president of Tam-awan Artist Group and Chanum Foundation, in the vernacular. “We want to show and highlight the unique culture of the Cordillera through arts and to help the young generation of artists. At Tam-Awan, the arts converge and converse,” the artist told BusinessWorld at the exhibition’s launch on July 6.
Last year, Baguio became the first Philippine city to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network under the crafts and folk art category.
Besides Tam-Awan Village, Baguio has many art spots, museums, and galleries like the BenCab Museum, Pasa-Kalye Artists, and the Ili-likha Artists Village, among others.
Ten years before there was Tam-Awan Village, artists Kidlat Tahimik, Luisa Igloria, Tommy Hafalla, Santiago Bose, Roberto Villanueva, National Artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, David Baradas, and Willie Magtibay founded the Baguio Arts Guild, which made Baguio City an art hotspot. Mr. Cabrera pioneered the artists’ village in Tam-Awan and mentored the artists there.
Mr. Mang-osan said among the biggest setbacks the village has had in the past two decades were weather disturbances and landslides. “We felt like the Village will never be rebuilt, but we did it. It is not a hindrance for the Village,” he said. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman