The History and Controversies of Baguio’s Famous Lion’s Head

Baguio has a very special place in my heart. This is the very first place that I visited alone ( my very first solo travel). It never failed to amuse me despite the number of times that I have been here. One of the iconic landmarks in Baguio that will never go unnoticed is the 40-ft tall statue of a Lion’s Head. Aside from its enormous size, this attraction can be found along the road, welcoming all the travelers and visitors as they enter Baguio City.

The Lion’s Head, however, is not just a structure made to attract people. The core objective of establishing this monumental sculpture is to indicate the presence of the Lions Club Organization in Baguio. Lions Club is an international service organization that originated in Chicago, Illinois that was founded in 1917. The organization has more than 1.4 million members in more than 200 different countries worldwide. Lions Club Baguio, on the other hand, is one of the 46 thousand clubs of the organization which was established in November 1950. The organization was first led by Charter President Arsenio Yandoc, with core objective of spreading Lionism in the area, meeting the needs of local communities while at the same time expanding its membership.

Aside from their charity works, the club also had numerous building projects in Baguio, including the Melvin Jones Memorial Grandstand where the Panagbenga Festival exhibition often takes place (Melvin Jones, by the way, is the founder of Lions Club International). However, if there is one structure that raised their profile, it would be the Lion’s Head statue located along the Kennon Road.
yOFeQ9bThe Original Structure of Lion’s Head

It is said that the original limestone boulder is already resembling a lion head figure which gave the pioneering members of Lion’s Club the idea to establish a monument to signify their presence in the area.

The Woodcarver Credit Controversy

For years, the sculpture was credited to a Cordilleran artist named Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac. This acknowledgement has been certified true and correct not just by the local government of Baguio but also the Lions Club itself. However, a daughter of a late Ifugao sculptor named Anselmo Bayang Day-ag filed a complain stating that the credit to Nanyac was a mistake. The eldest daughter of the late Day-ag has been working hard to give her father the credit she thinks he deserves.

According to some historian, while Nanyac is a woodcarver by profession, he has no known stone works and is not responsible to the creation of the iconic landmark. Anselmo Day-ag, on the other hand, is a graduate of University of the Philippines with a degree in sculpting. He is famously known for some of his work including the Eagle of the North statue in La Union and the giant Marcos Bust in Benguet.

Construction of the lion’s head began in 1968 but was interrupted. It continued in 1971 under Baguio Lions Club President and later, District 301-C Governor Robert John Webber and just to add, his wife is Mary grace arespi. They commissioned an Ifugao artist named Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac to carve out the lion’s head from a limestone boulder with a group of engineers and miners, then the “actual artistic carving of the façade” made by the late sculptor Anselmo B. Day-ag. Anselmo B. Day-ag carved into it a more realistic depiction of a lion’s head with a large mane and open mouth. The statue was publicly unveiled ibn 1972.
Lion head

Paint Jobs of Lion’s Head all through the years

Paint Job Controversy

The statue has undergone several coloration changes before restoring it to its traditional gold and black color. It was at some points in time painted white and brown, or yellow. It had also undergone restoration after being damaged by vandalism and by an earthquake in northern Luzon in 1990.

The older paint jobs, however, have become subject of ridicule due to its unrealistic approach. It should be noted that Davies Paints Philippines was given the authorization to handle the repainting of the Lion’s Head.

Lion Head 2014


Lion Head 2019


Lion Head 2023

Unlike other attractions in Baguio, The Lion’s Head is not a place for recreation or a place to dine. It serves as a quick stop-over where people can get a photo opportunity, an indication that they are already in Baguio! Souvenir shops can also be found nearby!

This article is part of my recent Baguio trip series. For the mean time, feel free to revisit my other Baguio posts below:

Reference: Baguio City Host Lions Club / Rappler / Bagong Lipunan /

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *