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City officials, SOCOB unveil frontliners sculpture

GOLDEN BLOOD. Frontliners anew were honored with the unveiling of the Golden Blood stone sculpture at the Rizal Park with mayor Benjamin Magalong, Society Outstanding Citizens of Baguio’s Dr. Elma Donaal and councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda. From the Facebook page of Atty. Betty Lourdes Tabanda

City officials led by mayor Benjamin Magalong and congressman Marques Go and the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio represented by former Baguio City High School principal Dr. Elma Donaal unveiled on Monday the stone marker honoring health frontliners at the Rizal Park.

The eight foot art piece shaped like a water droplet with a hollowed middle that portrays health care workers in face mask who braved the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic to stop its spread and provide care for the sick is a project of the city government of Baguio and the SOCOB, which is at the forefront of honoring outstanding citizens.

The stone marker by noted Igorot sculptor Gilbert Vergano Alberto is a testament of the courage showed by the frontliners – health care workers and even cops – who worked long hours to stop the spread of the disease.

The stone work fronts the city hall inside the Rizal Park with the national hero’s obelisk at the other end fronting the Burnham Park, the heartland of the city.

It is also a worthy addition to the Burnham Park complex and another tribute to modern day heroes, with the kalasag paintings that adorn the posts that hold the roof of the Sunshine Park stage nearly a kilometer away that is exactly at the opposite end.

Said structures that start from the city hall, the new marker, the Rizal obelisk, Daniel Burnham’s bust, the lake and Sunshine Park as well as the Baguio Convention Center form a straight line.

The 10 meter wide and 80 meter long park that is partitioned by the Otek Road and the two roads honoring two educators in the city – Benjamin Salvosa and Fernando Bautista, Sr. – also has a functioning fountain now that is a few meters down the art work for frontliner.

After the unveiling ceremony, a mini-exhibit and some artists played some tunes on flute as the road intersecting the park remains busy with public utility vehicles either dropping passengers or being filled up to bring people to their home.

In commissioning the work, Donaal said that the funds used was supposed to be for the SOCOB awards in September 1 last year, an annual search for exemplary Baguio residents.

“Because we were not able to hold the SOCOB so we decided to come out with a means to honor our outstanding citizens, who are our frontliners, those who risked their lives in caring for us during this pandemic,” said Donaal.

She said that they coordinated with the city and they intended to have the art work installed at the Rose Garden and on September 1 last year, “which was a short time.”

Then the city decided to have it instead at the Rizal Park, where improvements have been introduced by the City Environments and Parks Management Office.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, who joined the unveiling ceremony, called the Gano art work as “a tribute to our frontliners.”

She added: “For 2020, the SOCOB decided to forgo the search for individual outstanding citizens. Instead we wanted to honor frontliners so the remaining fund of SOCOB in the city budget was realigned to be added to the city budget for the marker.”

“We actually did not know that it was finished and we have been asking the city when it will be unveiled,” Donaal revealed.

Donaal added that the invite Monday was a surprise.

The multi-awarded Alberto, an alumnus of Donaal’s former school, also made all the stone art works at the City Hall park just across the Rizal park.

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