Where the Smoke Rises
Despite recent renewed interest in indigenous forms of expression, research into contemporary indigenous architecture outside of the stereotypical bahay kubo within a Philippine context has been lacking. A manifestation of this condition is seen through the resurgence of contemporary adaptations of canao (rituals) in Baguio City in Northern Philippines, encompassing the Ibaloi indigenous group’s intangible practices like dance, music, and oration. Intended as an investigation into the aforementioned gap in architectural discourse, this thesis proposes a design process and architectural response informed by a spatial exploration of the thanksgiving ritual known as peshit. This exploration draws from the peshit’s intrinsic rhythms and atmospheric attributes, and alongside an engagement with Ibaloi cosmologies, culminates in the design of a cultural community centre that supports the learning and expression of contemporary indigenous identity.
Pertinent to this discussion are issues of deterritorialisation, marginalisation, and reterritorialisation of the Ibaloi, brought about by the very genesis of the city from an upland village to an American hill station. This informed the selection of two sites in dialogue with each other: one site adjacent to Session Road, one of the most prominent pedestrian and vehicular thoroughfares of the city; and the other, land within Burnham Park recently allocated to the Ibaloi community for the development of a Heritage Garden. This proposition consequently negotiates the peshit’s origin as a socio-religious custom, and its current predominant understanding as an expression of cultural identity.
This thesis responds to the fragmentary existence of knowledge about peshit by proposing an iterative and notational mode of making. The act of notation is utilised to record and translate experiential attributes into tectonic elements and inhabitable space. The title, Where the Smoke Rises, refers to the act of gathering catalysed by the peshit, based on the Ibaloi saying, “nu tuay kad-an ni asok, tuay daguan jo” (“where there is smoke, that is where you go”).