Bayani “Bing” Carrillo has volunteered for Juneau arts events for years. He’s the go-to guy for designing inventive sets and solving technological problems.
His first volunteer project was Wearable Arts, the annual fashion show hosted by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Center, years ago. Since then, he’s been recruited to help out practically every arts group in Juneau.
“Other things started to come up, like Perseverance [Theater] stuff, working on sets. So I would go help some of the guys cut lumber, put pieces together,” he said. “And then I started doing other things like for the Folk Festival, helping set up the stage, setting up the mics.”
Carrillo helps hang the lights downtown before Christmas. He sets up the power for vendors at the Maritime Festival. One year, he made a giant sparkly high heel for the GLITZ Drag Show. Between running countless shows and managing other volunteers, Carrillo says the wide range of activities he does is challenging but satisfying.
“It’s fun, but it’s a little bit, you know, what’s the word? You gotta be on your toes,” he said.
One of his most memorable projects is a set he created for the 2020 Wearable Arts event.
The show is about making something out of the things you have, and Carrillo did just that. He made a colorful backdrop of interlocking rings framed by string lights for the runway. And the entire set was made out of construction pipe.
“I have friends that I know that own, you know, construction companies, and I say, ‘Hey, you got any pipe?’ They say, ‘Yeah, we got some pipe, come over and grab it’,” he said. “So these come in like 20 foot lengths, and they’re like six or four inches wide, but [the set] is all pipes.”
Carrillo’s creative set-building is one reason why he was named this year’s Patron of the Arts by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council for the Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy awards. Another reason is to honor his service as JAHC board vice president for the last six years.
“He’s probably one of the longest serving board members,” said Kathleen Harper, who has worked with Carrillo through her role as the facility manager for the council. “So I think that a large part of it was just like, he’s given so much to the arts community, what can we do to honor that service?”
At first, the selection committee thought about nominating him for the Volunteer for the Arts award. That was until they realized he had already won that award a decade ago, in 2012.
Carrillo’s technical expertise didn’t come from nowhere. After graduating from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1974, he tried his hand at college and a state job before deciding to pursue a trade. For about 25 years, he says, Carrillo traveled around Southeast Alaska pursuing electrical jobs before landing in the metering department at AEL&P.
Once he retired, Carrillo began applying his technical expertise outside the workplace. He says it was a natural fit.
“I knew other people that were [volunteering], so they asked me, ‘Hey, want to help out?’ since I’m knowledgeable regarding building things and electrical stuff,” he said.
With all of his years volunteering in the Juneau arts community, Carrillo has not forgotten his time as an electrician. He’s equally known for his support of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, where he has twice been recognized as his local’s Volunteer of the Year.
He is famous for providing elaborate appetizers and setting up his block rocker for music at the union’s annual picnics. He even made a Rosie the Riveter-themed cornhole set.
Nona Dimond, office manager at the IBEW Local 1547, remembers countless times Carrillo has been up for helping out the union.
“He just is one of those really dependable people, but also very thoughtful in making sure that everybody has everything they need in order to really get that sense of brotherhood, and he doesn’t ask for anything in return,” Dimond said. “They should call an award the Bing Carrillo award. Because if you’re getting a Bing Carrillo award, that means you’re stepping up and going above and beyond.”
Carrillo’s sense of community extends to the rest of Juneau, and his roots in the town run deep. His parents are from the Philippines, and his father worked for canneries in Southeast Alaska and his mother for the state. At one point, Carrillo’s father and uncle owned a downtown bar called the Dreamland Club. Carrillo lived above the bar when he was very young, until the family moved into the home on Starr Hill that he shares with his mom to this day.
Carrillo was born here, and other than his travels around Southeast Alaska when he was working as an electrician, he’s never left Juneau. He also doesn’t want to. He has a wealth of hobbies in Juneau anyway, including photography and building electric bikes.
For all the years Carrillo has lived in Juneau, he has become someone respected and appreciated within the community. It’s become a joke among his friends that everywhere you go in Juneau, you’re likely to find Carrillo helping out with something.
“And that’s just kind of how he is,” Dimond said. “He just shows up out of nowhere and solves all your problems.”
This story is part of KTOO’s participation in the America Amplified initiative to use community engagement to inform and strengthen our journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.