Baguio: UNESCO Creative City

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or commonly known as UNESCO has founded an international program to promote cities of different countries. In 2004, the UCCN was created which stands for UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Its mission is to unite all cities that presents innovation and creativity while developing a sustainable urban development. In the year 2019, the cultural organization has identified 66 creative cities with 246 members around the globe. The representatives depict fields in Crafts and Folk Arts, Music, Media Arts, Film, Design, Literature, and many more.

The 2000-year-old World Heritage Ifugao rice terraces in Batad, northern Luzon, Philippines.


Roles of Creative Cities

Being a creative city of UNESCO is not only a title granted to cities. The purpose includes uniting the different cities and working with each other to impart knowledge about the diverse science, traditions, and cultures that enable sustainable urban development. They are one in building local policies, actions, and laws by inspiring each member city. Through the different points and insights that the cities contribute, it will help them aim for the betterment of socio-economic, environmental, and cultural growth of their own countries they live in.

The Philippines is privileged to share its cultural diversity by having included in the international program. UNESCO has not only seen heritage sites but the potential cities that brings bright Philippine studies, cultures, and arts. Baguio City is the first creative city designated in the country.


What year Baguio became creative city?

On October 31, 2017, Baguio became the 181st member joining 72 other countries at that time. But now, over 300 countries are included representing their tourism and local creation.

Since the declaration, the city government of Baguio City commits itself to putting creativity and cultural efforts at the center of their developmental plans while also actively coordinating through international conference to achieve the UCCN goals and objectives.


Why is Baguio called a creative city?

What do people know about Baguio City? Is it all about what tourists love?

The general information about the beautiful city is that it is geographically located in the high mountains of Northern Luzon, over a thousand meter above sea level. Because of its elevation, its average temperature plays around 16-24 degrees Celsius during the summer and with no higher than 21 degrees Celsius during the wet season. And though the city is becoming highly urbanized, it is still surrounded by its famous pine trees with about 14% of thriving trees in its land mass.

Baguio city at dusk, Luzon Island, Philippines


Baguio City has been called the Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts as its designation in UCCN. While the city is known for its tourism highlights, the primary developmental factors including the cultural organization and creative industries have been collaborating to showcase its diverse beauty. For their city government, being included in UNESCO’s mission is an indication of support and dynamics. The city intends to raise a voice and send a signal to higher authorities that the privilege to be one of the creative cities is a step to becoming more innovative, creative, increase employment rate, and set more achievable goals to generate more investors. The platform also enables the city to have a lifetime commitment in cultural sharing and transformation in the forms of arts and crafts.


The reasons why Baguio has passed the qualifications in being a creative city are the following:


  • Rich Culture

Statistics showed that the city’s total population rose for about 345,000 in 2015. Each year, the exponential growth is about 1.54 percent. Local residents and migrants around the world are part of this growing community. It is also the reason why Baguio City is called “The Melting Pot of Culture”. Various of ethnic groups were formed and Baguio culture has been transformed into multiple forms.


Elder, Hunter & Wariors with spears

One of the ethnolinguistic groups that have stayed in the city is the Ibaloi group. Until today, Ibalois dominate most of the residents in Benguet and its nearby provinces with a distinct presentation of Baguio culture. They are called the “window” of the ethnic community for they represent the eight primary ethnolinguistics in the region of Cordillera. They are the center and living components showing the diversity of their traditions and cultures.


  • Quality Education

Baguio has also been known to be the best place to study. The reason is that because schools and universities produce graduates of which with high quality education. There are numerous universities in all parts of Baguio including West and Central Baguio, North and Central Quezon, and other districts. University of the Philippines- Baguio or also known as the UPB caters excellent teaching in a field or a department that majors in Sciences like Biology and Physics, Mathematics, and Philippine studies. It is known as the leading institution that offers tertiary education. Additionally, one of the focused programs offered in UPB is Fine Arts. They are committed to take good responsibility and honor to Baguio City in order to continue the development of the city’s programs related to Arts and Crafts.

The reason why people from different towns and cities dream to study in Baguio is because every university has a mission to contribute in the innovation, growth, and development as well as in building a better community of local and non-local residents.


  • Crafts and Folk Arts

One of the primary reasons why UNESCO considered the application of Baguio is because Crafts and Folk Art are carefully preserved while innovating. Four of the main crafts in Baguio City are the following:


  1. Back Loom Weaving

This kind of weaving was practiced by the women group in Cordillera and Northern Luzon. For them, it is more than just a source of income but rather an expression of culture and art. The costumes of the Ifugao are a product of backloom weaving.

  1. Wood Carving

The history of wood carving did not start because of income generation, it was originally linked in the religious practices and beliefs of the Ifugao. Way back then, the primary tool for making art is wood that is why they used to carve not only figures but also tools like spoons, bowls, ladles, and shields.

Store, Culture, Native, Handmade,


  1. Silver Craft

The mining industry in Baguio has given birth to a special craft like silver and metal crafting. The handmade bracelets, rings, and necklaces made of silver are the favorite souvenirs of tourists. Until today, the classic silver works continue to allure many customers.

  1. Tattooing

Baguio culture has introduced the now famous oldest mambabatok or tattoo hand poker- Apo Whang-Od. Batok is a form of tattooing technique which was first practice during pre-colonial period. The tools used include charcoal, a specific tree thorn, and water. Back then, inking people’s body signifies bravery and passage rites.

Another living proof that Baguio is artistic in nature is the logo of Baguio as a creative city itself. It has a total of 10 triangles representing different aspects. It was made by no other that Benedicto Cabrera or known as BenCab. The reason why triangle is the main feature is because it illustrates the Cordillera Mountain ranges. In the middle, you will notice the colorful ones which represent the colors of the Philippine flag. The remaining seven triangular shapes depict the 7 traditional arts and can also signify the 7 fields in UNESCO.

Photo of colorful triangles


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