From above, the broken tiles decorating the stairway resembled a rainbow. Old wine bottles jutted out from the cement wall in an odd pattern. Right behind a computer workspace, the sunlight streamed through a wall revealing quirky cutouts and glints of colored glass. Everywhere I looked there was something vibrant, colorful and interesting.
I mentally tried to digest everything as I went trigger-happy shooting every beautiful detail I could. There was a lot to take in.
The Ili-likha Artist’s Village in Baguio is an evolving work of art. The word “Likha,” which means to create, defines the place. It’s eco-architecture at its best, adapting man-made (mostly recycled) materials with existing trees. A sign posted outside the village explains the concept. They wish to honor the trees and not raze down the forest to make way for concrete jungles. I wish more places would adapt the same ideas.
Random planks of wood, twisted metal, and even old bicycle frames are used all around the place. At first glance they seem to have been haphazardly built on top each other with no real plan. But if you look closely, they actually provide walkways, stairs and banisters that lead to different spots that just evolve organically over time.
Old bottles, broken tiles and window frames are suddenly transformed into unique art pieces. The result is a chaotic, eclectic and beautiful mess.
Owned by film director and writer Kidlat Tahimik, Ili-Likha Artist’s Village serves as a hub for artistic minds. It’s easy to see why writers, painters, singers, musicians, wood carvers and artists would be attracted to the place as it just breathes inspiration.
The space showcases the rich culture of the Cordillera people with a touch of
nationalism. Paintings, sketches and sculptures of indigenous tribes can be found displayed in the different spaces, including a wicker Ifugao tribesman said to be handwoven by a blind artist. In one dining nook, a wall is decorated with a mixed media figure of national hero Jose Rizal.
Down the stairs leading to a walkway and garden area, there’s another interesting piece of art made of an assortment of bottle caps, jar lids, and random trash strung together depicting the Philippine flag with a face in the middle.
Tying everything together are the unique stained glass bottles and mosaic tiles on the walls, floors and stairs.
The place also serves as a healthy food hub in Baguio with several stalls specializing in budget-friendly snacks and meals. The Pasta Gambheri with shrimps that I ordered had a bit of a spicy kick and was pretty good. Another stall served Balbacua, a soup dish with stewed meat. The fresh fruit shakes were also pretty good.
Aside from pasta and fruit shakes, other stalls sell chicken and fries, rice meals, vegetarian options, lugaw, pastries, and coffee. However, the food could still use a bit of the same creative flair and passion as the place itself.
The vibrant space is also ideal for art workshops and artist’s events. After our lunch, a local musician demonstrated for us the various indigenous musical instruments of the Cordillera people, including flutes, jaw harps and drums made of wood.
Baguio City is really known for its vibrant art scene, but I really didn’t expect to find such an inspirational place in the middle of a bustling street in the city center. Our visit to this quirky Artist’s Village may have been short, but it was definitely one of the major highlights of the trip.
Ili-Likha Artist Village. Assumption Road, Barangay Kabayahihan, Baguio City, Philippines. [PHOTOS ON FACEBOOK]