AS a city that banks on tourists for economic stimulation, Baguio has been significantly affected by the travel restrictions imposed such as the postponement of the Panagbenga Festival which is one of its main tourist attractions. Now, two years after the initial onslaught of COVID-19, the city has been opening its doors and implementing activities that reinforce its reputation as a Creative City. Baguio was hailed as a Creative City by UNESCO in 2017 for its crafts and folk arts such as weaving, woodcarving, tattooing, and silver crafts. This means that the city champions a culture-centered sustainable development.
During the pandemic, Baguio has been successfully launching the annual Ibagiw Festival which features artwork and crafts from local artisans as a way to revive the local tourism industry. The most recent one was held last November 2021 with the theme “Create. Integrate. Innovate.” and featured contemporary art exhibits such as the Alimuom Art Exhibit and the Mandeko Kito which marketed local arts, crafts, and food. There were also other exhibitions for tattoo, textiles, and performance arts in other venues. Indeed, creativity cannot be hindered by the hardships that we are facing and will always find a way to resist and innovate.
Now that the city is reinvigorating its tourism industry, it is helpful to ask what can be expected next from the Creative City. The pandemic has instilled the importance of the digital industry and reminded us that it is where the future is headed. Baguio has been dubbed as a smart city because of its utilization of the Internet of Things in providing government services to residents. Will this technology be used to further develop its sustainability goals in terms of creativity-centered development? A good reference would be the Corditex Project which revived extinct weaving patterns through the use of digital technology. Here, a part of the culture of several Cordilleran ethnic groups were preserved and can be accessed by the masses. Another reference can be the Playtown Project in Recife, Brazil. The project was made to enrich the interaction between people and the city through the use of digital technology. Several ‘games’ were installed in public spaces to stimulate human interaction so that both tourists and locals can enjoy the city. This project helps bridge the tension between the tourists and locals by facilitating their interaction, something that Baguio City can benefit from. Given these examples, we can say that creativity has no bounds — it will always evolve to serve the needs of the people.