When Leandro Yangot, Jr. came back to the Philippines in 2021 during the height of the Covid-
19 pandemic, he knew that he is a different person from what he is when he left the country in 2019 after his third and final term as councilor ended. He stayed with wife Cheryl, an International Labors Organization permanent representative, and son and namesake Leandro Lugat, in Geneva, Switzerland where he embraced his creative side. As a young man, he was into music, and like his son, could play the guitar and could have been a folk singer if not for politics (beside construction) which got in the way.

There he also became a busker and had performed in streets, or in parks, earning money through his singing. There, he also started painting and could be seen in parks with his easel, brushes and paints. When he came back home, he embarked on a painting and musical journey.  He established a free lessons for painting and guitar playing at the park – first at Sunshine then at Burnham and then at the Baguio athletic bowl. On the side, he started growing plants, including edible, at his backyard, thus he established the UGABI or the Urban Gardening Association of Baguio, Inc. and taught same to those interested. He also introduced a cooking competition using urban garden produces.

“I had a degree in urban landscaping,” said the former barangay captain and chair of the Association of Barangay Council that earned him a seat at the city council and later as a regular member of the same. His efforts in visual arts led him to help create the Baguio Educators Artists Guild with teachers and with them organize arts competitions and from there the winners became the apprentices in visual arts efforts. With most of the BEAG members busy with their advance schooling, Yangot founded the Sin-Agi, meaning family members with the young aspiring artists trained by the older and the former becoming apprentices.

With the help of the apprentices, the first of the Climate Action Wall, the Biking Mobility Mural, was started in December 15 last year and completed last February 1. “We will embark on helping young kids develop their skill,” said the returning councilor, who was voted in in May of last year to serve his first term and, hopefully, complete another three term. “I don’t aim of running for a higher position. Councilor is good enough,” said the two time number one councilor and who served in an acting capacity as mayor and vice mayor.

He actually ran for mayor, but lost. Some of his young wards include senior high Camille Machis and nine year old Krakun Basil. Some of Machis’s works are on display at The Manor at Camp John Hay in the Alpines: Swiss-Baguio Art Fusion, an art exhibit which he headlines with another Swiss resident, Ilocos Sur native Claire Jaun-Torres. There is also Jane Juan, a cancer survivor who learned from the Free Arts Lesson in the Park, became a regular painter and her works have impressed Yangot. The art exhibit is a joint project of BEAG and Sin-Agi with the proceeds to help put up the Baguio City National High School arts gallery.

“That is my priority. I want to see an art gallery in that school, the first in schools,” emphasized Yangot. In fact, the councilor is eyeing a creative space in hotels and schools and in any available areas in any establishment which can host art works. As a first, Yangot and engineer Fernando Laranang will open the first creative space on March 11 at the latter’s Le Fern Hotel. Yangot is also busy with the Baguio Educational Art Festival which is co-hosted with the BCNHS and under the
school’s Special Program in the Arts, whose head, Francis Lumiwes, is a cousin. It was launched last February 4 and was aimed to be staged on weekends for the whole month of February, the national arts month.

The artfest was supposed to be finished by this weekend, but it has been extended until the end of the month with the delayed workshops staged the early part of March. The event will actually
culminate on March 25 with the competitions on mural painting, essay writing and a Got Talent
like event for the performance arts – singing, dance and play. “We hope to stage this annually, and during February, the HeArt month,” said Yangot referring to the month of heart, now he calls the month for the love of arts. Moreover, the mural projects will go on. In fact, he is now calling BEAG and Sin-Agi artists to be on standby as the second mural work is about to start.

In fact, he has made the call on the chat groups for the free art and guitar lessons and Sin-Agi group. Yangot wants to start the Buyog watershed mural after the biking mobility wall. It is a call
to put a stop on encroachment at the watershed which mayor Benjamin Magalong wants to end and in fact made the call anew due to the dwindling tree stand. And after that, Yangot is looking forward to the third mural along Legarda Road, the runners wall, or the RunArt which will be undertaken with the running group Team Malaya.

“It will be a busy year, again,” said Yangot, whose boundless energy sees him up and about as early as 3AM and ready to be at the Sin-Agi office at the Baguio athletic bowl to paint. And before that, he was out until 11PM or 12 midnight doing his rounds. Yangot said that he has to make the most of his time. Live worry free since “life is short,” summed Yangot.

Pigeon Lobien/ABN

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