Claim: An Ifugao woodcarver “carved” the famous Kennon Lion
Facts: The Kennon Lion is Baguio’s iconic statue. It can be said that you haven’t climbed Baguio until you have posed in front of this huge lion.
The Lions Club, founded in 1917, is one of the more enduring service organizations in the world. The Baguio City Lions Club is one of the biggest and most influential chapter clubs. The football field at Burnham Park was even named after Melvin Jones, the Lions Club founder.
In 1970, then Baguio Mayor and Lions Club Baguio President (until 1970) Luis Lardizabal decided to raise funds to build the Lion’s head at Kennon Road.
The fund was secured but it was the question of “who built the lion” which remains to be answered.
Filipiknow had this to say: “Construction of the lion’s head began in 1971 under Baguio Lions Club President and later, District 301-C Governor Robert John Webber. They commissioned an Ifugao artist named Reynaldo Lopez Nauyac to carve out the lion’s head from a limestone boulder.”
Lopez Nauyac (Nanyac) was then one of the woodcarvers from Ifugao who settled in Asin barangay. He would later become the barangay captain of Asin. He was more known as a woodcarver rather than a stone carver or mason.
If Filipiknow’s assertion is true, this would be Nauyac’s only concrete statue.
Emmanuel Brazil Viray, writing for the FB group “Memories of Old Manila” said that another Cordilleran artist was responsible for the Lion’s head.
“Prior to the artistic sculpting, the limestone was prepared by a group of engineers and miners, then ‘the artistic actual carving of the facade’ was rendered by Anselmo Bayang Day-ag, an Ifugao and Isinay artist and woodcarver from the Cordillera Administrative Region. The construction began in 1968 but was interrupted,” Viray said.
Day-ag graduated from UP Fine Arts in 1956 with a Major in Sculpture and a minor in Ceramics. Before graduating, he received the 1956 Magsaysay Awards in Composition.
According to his tribute FB page Day-ag Legacy, he built the Eagle of the North in Agoo, La Union, the Yamashita Shrine and Kiangan War Memorial in Kiangan, Ifugao, Quezon Memorial in Hundred Islands, Pangasinan, Lapu-Lapu Shrine The Battle of Mactan, in Mactan, Cebu, Dalton Pass in Nueva Vizcaya, and the Marcos Bust.
That Day-ag is also a member of the Lions Club added to the evidence that he did build the bust.
On the page, a photo was also included showing Day-ag’s brothers and his wife’s cousins at the Lion’s bust while they were building them.
Of course, Day-ag also designed and executed the now ill-fated Marcos Bust in Tuba at the boundary of Benguet and La Union.
He did not finish the bust as he was killed in a car crash on September 20, 1980, at the age of 46. Another sculptor finished the bust but he, too, died mysteriously.
Why we fact-checked this: The Day-ag children are asking for the rectification of the building of the Lion’s head, as Wikipedia decided to follow Filipiknow’s assertion.
Top: Anselmo Bayang Day-ag, Bottom: engineers and miners. Both photos from the Day-ag Legacy Facebook page.
This piece is republished with permission from Baguio Chronicle.