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Sin-agi and the Climate Action Wall mural – teaching new artists whilst calling for a stop to global warming

LAUNCHING. The December 15 launching with Mayor Benjamin Magalong, city administrator Bonifacio dela Pena, councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr., artists Gladys Labsan, Wigan Nauyac Lopez, Daviez Paints representative Leonardo Benavides, Jr., police, bikers, and the older apprentice-artists from Baguio City High School and Rizal National High School. PML

Even when it was announced during the December 22 Sin-agi Christmas gathering and the blessing of the new arts group’s office at the Baguio athletic bowl that paintings will stop for a while, many of the parents of the children involved in the Climate Action Wall mural painting at the wall at the junction of the Legarda Road and Marcos Highway were still asking if works continue the next day or the next.

“This will be the last day,” announced Sin-agi convenor councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr. the day before for the holiday break.

“We will resume after Christmas,” he said.

The parents, who are also volunteer-artists, immediately proceeded to the area and painted that afternoon, right after partaking of the lunch during the office/headquarters blessing. Some of them were on their own without their kids, who took the day off, in tow.

It has been a week since mayor Benjamin Magalong greenlit the start of the mural painting of the nearly 100 feet by nine feet high (though at some parts it dip to seven or eight feet) wall that line the Legarda approach from the highway.

“We will call this the ‘Climate Action Wall’,” announced Magalong during the launching of the mural which was also his birthday and painted same words near the highway entrance.

He said the walls that run until the Baguio City Police Station 5 Outpost, which lies at the entrance of the Europa Condominium, will be a call to action to every Baguio resident that his government is keen on helping reduce carbon footprint.

To raise awareness, he allowed the painting of the mural which shows figures, of people from various sectors, on bike as a way to reduce pollution and promote healthy living. The “riders” have the Mount Santo Tomas and the eponymous “Mickey Mouse” or radars once operated by the Americans as backdrop.

The mural’s study was done by a group of riders led by Eugene Valbuena of the Administrators Office. “In fact I am there, pointing at the middle figure,” added the city government’s designated bikers leader who said that it was rendered by fellow biker Homer Rigonan.

The artists led by Yangot, Heroes Wall of Fame artists Ged Alangui and Gladys Labsan and Wigan Nauyac Lopez, who was supposed to lead the “Color It Lion” refurbishing of the famous Lion’s Head at Kennon Road in 2016, were ready to start painting  right after the launching led by Magalong and city administrator Bonifacio dela Pena.

With the young artists in tow, mostly high school students and graduates of the Free Painting at the Park also organized by Yangot, the Sin-agi started with the painting.

“The children will help put the white primer while the veteran artists will do the layout and then the younger apprentice-artists could join,” said Yangot.

“We can finish this in at least two weeks. No rush. We eye to finish it at the first week of January next year and the opening on the second,” said the former Association of Barangay Council president as the promised funding of the mayor can only come by that time.

“For now, I will source out the initial talent fee of the veteran artists. Pasko ngayon (It is Christmas season now),” added Yangot.

But less than a week and the veteran artists could only smile as works are more than half way. And the fact that they are not in full strength with Sin-agi member artist Hermie Bruno still down with flu.

“He was supposed to join us during the launching but he got flu and has been in isolation since then,” said Yangot.

Lucky that Lopez joined the group the last minute as Yangot has been searching for someone who could also sculpt and has knowledge in landscaping as well as in masonry and carpentry. Yangot intends to have Lopez tend to a property at Mount Santo Tomas that straddles both the city and Tuba as a potential artist village. But that is another story.

“I am only available until the 21st since I need to go home to Ifugao to join my family for Christmas,” said Lopez, who left for Ifugao on December 23 instead, aboard his motorcycle

But Lopez was the most available of the artists for the first week with Labsan on her online editing job that sees her at work until dawn. “We have so much bills to pay,” said Labsan, who is the family’s breadwinner with husband James tending to their five kids ages eight months to 11 years old, all girls. In fact, two of the eldest, Elise and Miah, are part of the FALP program of Yangot.

Labsan said that she is available at 1PM onwards, since the mornings especially the near noon time are so hot and she is sleep deprived.

Alangui, meanwhile, is a kagawad at barangay City Camp Central and is chair of appropriations that makes him one of the busiest barangay council members because it is the end of the year with budgeting and disbursement of the barangay’s remaining funds need to be done before the year end. Moreover, he has also barangay duties – Tuesday and Friday – that prevents him from joining the group at times.

Yangot and group said that with the layout in place, the remaining work left for them is for the finishing touches.

“Half of the mural now is the original study, while the remaining portion are for the children. That is children art,” said Alangui as the apprentice artists added more bikers on the wall.

He said that they will do the background later on and have the skies the color of dawn or dusk the same as the finished portion at the highway junction. He added too that they added more figures in bike since the wall is too long enough to occupy two of the study. Instead, they allowed the young apprentices to do their own, of course with their direction, he added.

Buyog Mural

With the near completion of the bikers mural, the Sin-agi artists are looking forward to the next project at the same wall, the remaining 100 feet or so which will depict Buyog and the Mount Carabao which is now Quirino Hill.

Magalong said that the city is losing alsmost every square meter of the Buyog Watershed, one of the city’s water sources, to illegal settlers.

“We have to put a stop on that, this a mural to show what remains of the watershed and hope that it stops there. We must act now,” added the mayor, who worries that with the tree stand gone, the city’s pollution will further deteriorate on top of losing water resources and other problem that over population may bring in.

“That is the next project for Sin-agi and we look forward to having these children, our apprentices in said mural project,” said Yangot, explaining that the word itself, Kankana-ey or even Pangasinan, that connotes sibling, where the older helps the younger.

In fact, Yangot said, that the mayor is bullish on identifying more walls in the city that could be turned into mural with the Climate Action Wall as theme.

“We will be sourcing funds for it,” the mayor said during his speech last December 15.

Meanwhile, at the new Sin-agi office, Yangot said that former City Tourism Office will be converted into a studio for the group as well as a gallery.

“Our members can paint here and have their works on display at the wall and we will stage regular exhibits,” he added.

Alangui and Labsan are well back at the area where they had their earlier murals. In fact, many of Labsan’s works, Heroes Athletes portrait project, are at the nearby office – the City Sports.

And 24 more walls atop the grandstand are awaiting faces of 48 more athletes to go with the 48 the two have finished along with Harold Banario. Pigeon Lobien

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