Baguio back for some wedding magic

Baguio City is more than just the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Called the City of Pines, Baguio is a melting pot of culture, tradition, tourism and the arts. It’s known as the ultimate destination of sorts, even for weddings.

To talk about the growing industry of weddings, Rhia Darang, vice president of the Baguio Wedding and Suppliers Organization and Topper Ballola, its co-founder and lead photographer of El Garahe Studios, sat down with Daily Tribune’s managing editor Dinah Ventura for the online show Spotlight.

In this conversation, find out what makes Baguio the ideal destination for weddings and why you should book locals for your special day.

Daily Tribune (DT): Last year, you had your first wedding fair. What’s different now from last year?
Rhia Darang (RD): Last year was kind of experimental actually. Baguio Country Club offered to help us because they wanted to uplift the wedding industry since we realized during the pandemic that the wedding industry didn’t belong anywhere. We were just freelancers. Eventually, when the pandemic happened, we needed to organize ourselves so we could go in and ask for support from the government likewise in the immunization and vaccinations. After that, we were already recognized by the local government of Baguio.

DT: Tell us about your membership. What is BWESO made up of?
TB: BWESO is made up of suppliers, ranging from videographers, photographers, and coordinators. We also have caterers; basically everyone from the field of weddings.
RD: Where do we belong? Ang galing lang because we have a good mayor. We realized that in all the industry industries, we belong pala in tourism. Why tourism? Because during every wedding, most of our weddings have a destination venue. Wedding destination venue ang Baguio. So, they realize every time we do weddings, we bring about more or less 100 people up to Baguio. Nung time ng kalakasan, December, pre-pandemic we have 20 weddings in a month.

DT: What is the advantage of booking local suppliers?
TB: I want to start historically — the Cordilleras has always been artistic. In a way, our culture is rich, and it overflowed into the generation that we have maybe before us. Baguio is a magnet, that’s why we have the likes of BenCab and other artists who were not from Baguio. They went here probably because of the magnet. I really can’t explain it.

BAGUIO blooms as romantic table centerpience.

DT: There’s something about Baguio that lets people gravitate…
TB: Probably the fresh air. Then you include Baguio as a melting pot because we are the destination for education as well. You have all of that. You can just imagine converging with creativity. The reason I’m saying this is because I don’t think that there’s a lot of creativity with Baguio compared to the other places in the Philippines.

Why book locals? Logistically, we know about you. We know every corner, we know every nook. We know the lighting conditions of this church or this garden or that hotel. You could always book of course your dream photographer or videographer from Manila. But, you know, locals, we know like each corner, really. That’s a really huge advantage. Creatively we’re equal. I believe that. Let’s try to reverse it. Bring me to Manila and I wouldn’t know anything about ‘yung mga eskinita. I think that’s the greatest advantage of any local supplier. We know from top to bottom.

DT: What does BWESO as an organization hope to achieve in general?
RD: Part of our mission with BWESO is really to unite everybody. During the pandemic, we didn’t know that we had about 150 people working in the same industry. Before the pandemic, we were so busy working na wala ka nang kakilala. Now it became one big family, even with the bridal fair.

DT: Please invite everyone to visit Baguio and maybe check out your businesses.
RD: Everybody’s welcome in Baguio, and maybe experience the Baguio magic that we have. Although you have to register. We just have to be cautious of everybody’s safety. Right now, Baguio is opening up. You have new places to go to. As always, I know you’ve all missed Baguio terribly because of the pandemic, but please do come and visit us here.
TB: We’re inviting everyone to come over to Baguio. Each city, each location has its own magic. Baguio has its own magic. You’ve seen the photos. For you to experience it, you really have to come here. Have your wedding here and realize that there’s something na pwede mong balikan, not just on your wedding day.

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