By Lion Jaime Mendoza

(Originally published in the year 1999)


Destiny must have had it that the Lions Organization, someday, would be aubiquitous lot throughout the heights of this mountain region’s premiere resort city dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines – for amidst the extent of what is vaunted as the most scenic and shortest route going to Baguio, several heaps and mounds of limestone rocks and boulders can be found and in which mineral, will be carved a giant structure signifying the existence of the largest service organization in the world.

As one traverses this traditional artery, a lion’s head, now a good 27 years old since its completion and situated some 10 to 15 kilometers from the city proper, stands monumental as a sculptural landmark.

How the creation of such a site came about is still anybody’s guess to this very day.  Nevertheless, one school of thought that stands out readily acceptable is that which provides for the handiwork of Mother Nature.

It is believed that varied forces of nature have been responsible in shaping that particular limestone boulder in the molds and semblance of a lion’s head figure.  This would then pave the way for the creative minds of pioneer Lions Club members to conceive the feasibility of designing a symbol to indicate the presence of the group that has been chartered in earlier years with Arsenio R. Yandoc as its first ever club president.

Correlatively, records would show that it was not until former City Mayor Luis Lardizabal’s term as District 301-C Governor (Lion Year 1969-1970) when the said plan was actually conceptualized and pushed through, having then Lion members Basilio Gochu, Francisco Panajon and Ruperto Villalon as project directors.

Tapping donations from the likes of Baldomero Nevada, Pacifico Marin, Felipe Cunanan, Emilio Pabusta, Ong Chay Huat and Mrs. Jovita Cuenca to name a few, and proceeds from the just concluded hosting of a State Convention then, its completion was to take place a year later, during Lion year 1971-1972, District 301-C then being administered by Governor R. John Webber, and the original local chapter being helmed by Lion Pedro Z. Claravall.

Key Lion officers during the unveiling of the Head’s marker were Lions Moises Cating, 1st Vice President, David Borja, 2nd Vice President and Arturo Santiago, 3rd Vice President.

Other notables were the year’s club directors, namely: Concordio Calub, Mauro Concepcion, Eduardo Cunanan, Rosauro Jaurigue, Gonzalo Ong, Silvestre Samson, Jr., Johnny Tan Heng and Felix Villalon.

Upon the monument’s realization, it has then become a favorite pictorial site and hangout of local tourists and foreigners alike, who could then be seen to make a brief stopover as they make their ascents and descents to and from this sunflower-laden city up North.  It is said that a visit to the City of Baguio will never be complete, if one is not to have his or her picture at the said attraction.

However, halfway through its 18th year, on the 16th of July, 1990, all things came to a halt as the great intensity 7 tremor struck major parts of Luzon, the city almost leveled to a pulp – and the sculpture likewise getting its lion’s share of damages, so to speak.

A momentary lull ensued as city folk assessed the scope of destruction and tried rising from its ruins.

Then it came to pass that the figure is to be reconstructed, this time with Lion Alfredo de los Santos and Lioness Gloria A. Vergara presiding over their respective organizations, designating Lion Peter Go, then 3rd Vice President of Baguio City (Host) Lions Club for LY 1991-1993, as project coordinator.

So it was written, that the once proud and mighty “Lion” has been restored, although sans the original heap and size of limestone which it once occupied, and continues to be very much a part of the memories of the multitudes that flock this elevated city, now home to four (4) other district dignitaries who have all made the city proud by serving as governors, namely Lion Basilio Gochu (LY 1977-1978), Lion Bernardo M. Vergara (LY 1990-1991), Lion Peter U. Go (LY 1998-1999) and Lion Dennis Sy (LY 1999-2000).

From the initial group of service advocates, now called the Baguio City (Host) Lions Club, evolved ten other charters (and still counting), all created for the achievement of Lionistic goals ranging from the international flagship program of SightFirst, to work with the deaf, youth outreach and environmental concerns.

Clearly, aside from manifesting resiliency, this 4-storey high statue, moreover embodies the city Lions’ conviction to oath and commitment to general welfare.

And as long as one can still see changes and improvements being done on this towering piece of art, this author believes that humanitarian causes will always remain an active pursuit of service organizations like the Lions Clubs – now, more than ever, battle scarred and tested, to let its roars be heard well throughout the next hundred years more.


The City Government of Baguio's 2013 entry in the Grand Parade of Floats of the 2013 Baguio Flower Festival, featuring the Lion's Head along with other landmarks of Baguio City.


A wood carving of the Lion's Head


The Lion's Head has even been featured in the May 2013 issue of LION Magazine.  

Thank you, LCI!  laugh


Here are more photos of the Lion's Head:

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And here's a link to a recent feature on the ABS-CBN News Channel (May 18, 2014) about the Lion's Head, which includes an interview with our very own PDG Peter Uy Go, 3PMJF.

ANC: History of Baguio's Famous Lion's Head

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