Baguio’s first civic organization has welcomed its new chief after a holdover for one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic at the Ibaloy heritage park at the Burnham Park on Rizal Day.
In the annual bonfire of the Baguio Apaches on December 30 last year, which is also the turn-over ceremony for its new leader, restaurateur Ray Olarte received the symbols of responsibility – tomahawk, warbonnet and poncho sweater – from Rommel Alcid.
Olarte stayed on as the “nation’s” assistant chief for 2021 after Alcid was retained the chief due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown starting March 17 of 2020 that prompted the cancellation of all Apache activities.
“I am stepping down and be known now as the pandemic chief and not as a past chief,” a humorous Alcid told the 70 plus Apache in attendance.
Baguio Water District director Jonathan Vergara received his own version of a tomahawk as he is being groomed to become the next chief and will chair the staging of the next annual bonfire.
Earlier in the afternoon, Alcid, in behalf of the nation, thanked the Onjon ni Ivadoy for hosting the annual bonfire and turned over a sound system as donation to the association of the original settlers of the city.
The annual bonfire has been held regularly at the Botanical Garden except last year due to the pandemic and recently due to the renovation being implemented by the City Environment and Parks Management Office there.
Founded in 1939 and credited to brothers Ricardo and Franciso Paraan and Ricardo Chan, the Apaches is originally a group of Boy Scouts who loved to sing and hold bonfire with a roasted camote as regular fare.
It became a basketball team that included other sons of Baguio pioneers who were born, raised and studied here and became some of the earliest professionals in the city. Many of them went to war in 1941.
After World War II, they settled and have families of their own and became leaders of the city. Francisco became a policeman and later Baguio city police chief, while Ricardo, a lawyer and later a city councilor.
Francisco became the city mayor in 1986 replacing another Apache member, Ernesto Bueno, a retired Philippine Air Force general.
Their sons and grandsons also became Apache members who now honor their elders with the annual bonfire and to celebrate also the spirit of the nation of fellowship, food, fun, family and faith. The last two, said former city councilor Conrado Bueno, were included after the war when the original members got married and raised their own family.
“This is the only group in the city that makes family – and faith – as the core of the fellowship,” said Bueno, brother of the former mayor and whose family has perhaps the most number of members in the Apaches.