UC confers honorary degrees on BenCab, Kidlat Tahimik

September 03, 2018

Two internationally-acclaimed artists were conferred the honorary degrees Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa by the University of the Cordilleras (UC) during its 72nd Commencement Exercises on August 24, 2018 in recognition of their respective contributions in the field of culture and arts.

National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto "BenCab" Cabrera and multi-awarded independent filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik, in their commencement addresses, reminded the graduates of their responsibility to promote and preserve the culture of the Cordilleras.

Cabrera recalled being introduced to the region's rich culture in the 60's describing it as "truly original." He noted the aesthetic qualities of the region's artworks which are showcased at the BenCab Museum. BenCab also underscored the importance of taking care of the environment which is among the advocacies of the BenCab Art Foundation.

"As residents of these mountains and valleys, it is important that we acknowledge and respect this shared heritage [and] making sure that our environment is protected is equally important," Cabrera said.

Kidlat Tahimik, who is born and raised in Baguio City, addressed the graduates with an unconventional commencement speech in the form of a three-part artistic expression.

Kidlat presented his installation art depicting the Ifugao wind goddess Inabyan juxtaposed with the "Hollywood wind goddess" Marilyn Monroe, and the Filipino filmmaker who decides to "tell the local story." This was followed by a 15-minute clip from his film "Memories of Overdevelopment" which served as a prelude to a performance of a toga-clad Kidlat as a graduate of the "University of Hollywood."

His live performance narrated the story of a Cordilleran filmmaker who returns to his home in the rice terraces with the goal to produce a blockbuster film. He soon reconnects with his indigenous culture and decides to tell the local story represented by Kidlat removing his toga to reveal himself wearing a bahag while toting his iconic bamboo camera.

Kidlat synthesized his performance to remind the graduates to tie the skills they have acquired in UC with their culture.

"Your culture, whether it's Cordilleran culture or culture from Mindanao, your culture will give an extra ingredient to your college knowledge. It will give you a sense of liwanag behind that shield. It will give you an extra power so that you can utilize your diplomas to serve your communities and your people," Kidlat said.

The two artists were among the founding members of the Baguio Arts Guild which staged local and international art festivals in the city. In addition, with Baguio City being added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network earlier this year, they were included as members of the Baguio Creative Cities Council with BenCab for painting and Kidlat for performing arts.

UC has conferred honorary degrees on individuals who have exhibited passion, integrity, and excellence in their respective fields. In recent years, UC conferred Doctor of Laws on Vice President Leni Robredo and Doctor of Pedagogy on Ramon Magsaysay Award laureate Randy Halasan.

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