BAGUIO, Philippines – The daughter of a late Ifugao sculptor has sought to correct what she called a historical mistake by crediting him as the carver of Baguio’s famous landmark – the Lion’s Head on Kennon Road.
For years, the half-a-century-year-old sculpture bears an acknowledgment that reads, “The 40-foot sculpture was carved out of limestone by Cordilleran artist Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac.” It has been certified true and correct by the city government and the Lions Club.
Baguio City’s Lion’s Head on Kennon Road is a renowned landmark in the country. It was erected by the Lions Club of Baguio as a community undertaking, and it has since become a renowned tourist spot.
But the eldest daughter of the late sculptor Anselmo Bayang Day-ag, said the credit was a mistake, and that city hall and the Lions Club in Baguio should start correcting it.
Day Day-ag, who is now living in the United States, said she has been working since 2011 to give her late father the credit he deserved, but her efforts proved futile.
“Ang aking ama na si Anselmo Bayang Day-ag ang siyang tunay na eskultor ng Lion’s Head ng Kennon Road, Baguio, at hindi po ang ipinangalan sa karatula doon na si Cordilleran artist Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac,” Day said.
(My father Anselmo Bayang Day-ag was the true sculptor of the Lion’s Head of Kennon Road, Baguio, and not Cordilleran artist Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac.)
She sought an explanation from the Lions Club in Baguio which first credited the late Nanyac for the 40-foot-tall and 60-foot-wide concrete sculpture that was subsequently acknowledged by the city government of Baguio.
According to local historian Emmanuel Brazil Viray, Nanyac, a woodcarver by profession with no known stone works, was not responsible for the creation of the statue.
Viray said it was Day-ag, who graduated from the University of the Philippines in 1956 with a degree in sculpting, who was responsible for the making the iconic Lion’s Head.
He said Nanyac did not participate in the process, and it was Day-ag who created the statue, a project commissioned by then-Lions’ Club chapter president and Baguio mayor Luis Lardizabal in the 1960s.
“Prior to the artistic sculpting, the limestone was prepared by a group of engineers and miners, then ‘the artistic actual carving of the facade’ was rendered by Anselmo Bayang Day-ag, an Ifugao and Isinay artist and woodcarver from the Cordillera Administrative Region. The construction began in 1968 but was interrupted,” Viray wrote.
Day-ag died in 1980 in a road accident.
Day has asserted that her father and Nanyac were “victims of this name change done by the Lions Club-Baguio Chapter.”
Jeff Ng, the district head of the Lions Club, said he plans to broker a meeting between the Day-ag and Nanyac families to find out who the proper credit for the iconic Lion’s Head on Kennon Road should go to.
“We want to make sure that the proper credit goes to the right person or persons who deserve it,” he said.
Ng said the history of the Lion’s Head has been a source of dispute for many years, and has not been resolved to this day.
He said younger members of the Lions Club were communicating with older members who were present during the time of construction to validate claims and find out what really happened.
“[Regarding the] history of the Lion’s Head, [and about] who made it, it has been like that before we were born,” Ng said.
But with efforts to open communication lines with the two families and the Lions Club’s elders, Ng said he was hopeful that the controversy would finally be resolved about half a century after the Lion’s Head was built.
He explained that the growth of the Lions Club in Baguio has made communication more difficult for the Day-ag family. Over time, the organization has expanded into 16 sub-groups each with a different set of leaders in Baguio.
“We are going to try and talk with both families, the elders, then see who should be directly credited. We will be fair with both. Maybe, we can credit both of them if it turns out that way,” Ng said. – Originally published on Rappler.com as part of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship
Angel Castillo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.