Baguio City

Chronicling Baguio’s earth-shaking stories 30 years ago

Frank Cimatu
Chronicling Baguio’s earth-shaking stories 30 years ago
Artist Angelo Aurelio holds a premier of his project ' Writing 30: 30 storytellers on the Baguio metanarrative '

Exactly thirty years ago, Angelo Aurelio was a young boy playing near Marcos Highway. His father was a DJ at a famous nightclub that July 16, 1990.

Then the earth shook and he found himself stumbling onto the road. He saw the guest relation officers at the club also lying on the road and loudly praying for salvation.

Too young to comprehend what was happening in Baguio City, he grew up listening to stories from relatives, neighbors, teachers, and mentors.
Aurelio went on to become an award-winning dramatist with his plays winning the Aliw Awards five times. He also became a painter, mostly doing murals in remote places in the Cordillera.

Then COVID-19 came. He had to abandon his plays and murals while being cooped in the city.

When the lockdown eased a bit, he decided to continue his dream project of interviewing survivors of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake which devastated the city.

The timing was right. It is the 30th anniversary of the quake and the world is gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic. He decided to gather 30 artists and writers from Baguio who were alive at that time.

Like the present pandemic, Baguio was literally isolated for six months in 1990 after the roads were wiped out. Some of the interviewed writers and artists were already practicing while some followed those paths because of their terrible experiences.

Aurelio also added teachers and public officials to give a context to how Baguio was able to recover. They, too, had compelling tales to tell. Aurelio named his project Writing 30: 30 storytellers on the Baguio metanarrative and it will be a three-hour documentary about the Baguio earthquake, 30 years after.

Aurelio will premier a 30-minute version at the City Hall on Thursday, July 16. To produce the documentary, Aurelio has to sell his paintings.

It is his first foray towards documentary-making.  –