Inspired by the Favelas of Brazil, our very own Department of Tourism for the Cordillera Administrative Region (DOT-CAR) organized and mobilized a similar project geared towards making a previously dull hillside community along Kilometer 3 of Brgy. Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet into a beautiful, colorful one. The hillside mural was formally introduced to the public last June 2016 and was completed after two months.
DOT-CAR collaborates with four artists from Tam-awan artist colony, namely Jordan Mang-osan, Ged Alangui, Jenny Lorenzo and Clinton Anniversary to help turn STOBOSA, (Stonehill, Botiwtiw and Sadjap) the three sitios that participated in the sanctioned art project transition towards sustainable tourism. The four artists chose a sunflower theme to paint on the hillside houses to celebrate this area that was once abundant with sunflowers. Since this was a large project, volunteers as well as the residents helped out to make this project a reality.
Once considered an unattractive address, even an eyesore by many locals, Brgy. Balili is fast becoming a popular tourist destination. You cannot just go visit the strawberry farms in La Trinidad and not drop by the colorful houses by the hillside.
I was just there this November and since it is only accessible via this very busy highway (Kilometer 3) , our vehicle did not know where to stop at first so I could go down, cross the street and take photos and customary selfies.
I crossed the street to walk halfway the long, hanging bridge that connects the colorful hillside houses to the highway. Be careful! Despite the excitement one must still be mindful when crossing the very busy highway.
From afar, the hillside community looks pretty exploding in a kaleidoscope of colors. But once you come closer, crisscrossing black electrical wires become obvious as well as flags and flags of fresh laundry proudly waving in the air for all the world to see.
As I was busy taking photos, the hanging bridge started moving up and down as a teen-ager from the hillside community passed by me to get to the highway. I said ‘hello’ to her but she just stared at me with this lazy and amused expression that told me “ what are you doing here taking photos of my home?” Did she find my presence there intrusive? More tourists arrived for selfies and I knew it was time to go.
Due to the success of this project, Quirino Hill, a hillside community in Baguio City that is three times larger than Brgy. Balili has been identified to be the next site for the second project.