Baguio has always been known as the country’s summer capital, drawing Manila residents and Koreans seeking escape from the heat. Despite cheaper airline tickets and tour packages to Boracay, El Nido or even CamSur, this mountain city has remained a favorite summer destination. Aside from its mountain views and colorful flower displays, this city of pines still boasts of its cool weather even during March and April.
Unknown to many, though, Baguio is also home to many art museums highlighting the various cultural heritages of the cordilleras. One particular museum that truly displays the ingenuity and artistic power of Filipinos is the BenCab museum.
A project of the BenCab Art Foundation, this four-level modern structure sits on a promontory and enjoys a commanding view of the cordillera mountains and the south China Sea in the distant west. It is founded by no less than national artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, and is “committed to the promotion of the arts, as well as an expression of the artist’s gratitude to the country that nurtured and inspired him.”
The museum houses BenCab’s art collections in addition to a number of acknowledged Filipino artists’ works of art. Seemed so far-off from the city, this four-hectare property is subdivided into several galleries; each has its own character and story to tell.
Offers art books, postcards, notebooks, and reproductions, the museum shop likewise sells handmade paper products, bags, shirts and other keepsakes. The shop uses magazine pages as its standard issue wrapper sealed with a BenCab sticker.
As my friend describes, the museum capitalizes on the natural lighting and nature’s grand display of landscape. Each floor is high-ceilinged, covered with glass windows and is adorned with art pieces. one that notably stands out is BenCab’s “32 Variations on Sabel,” a ceramic mural which BenCab completed in Mariwasa tiles.
Bulols are aplenty, especially on the third floor where the Cordillera Gallery is located. Featuring the national artist’s collection of over a hundred hand-carved Bulols or rice granary gods, this section holds as well a number of tribal artifacts and indigenous crafts.
At the spacious third floor also resides the Gallery Indigo, showcasing the museum’s latest art exhibits. It is adjacent to Patio Salvador, an open terrace used for receptions and sculpture shows.
A small section of the museum displays a sign by the door that warns guests. The gallery contains works with images that may be offensive to minors and to certain individuals, evidently suggestive to its name, Erotica Gallery.
A nook below a flight of stairs, the contemporary art gallery greets guests. Highlighting the artist’s paintings and pieces of sculpture, this section is truly a sight to behold. notably on display are some of the grand works of the country’s finest – Cesar Legaspi, Arturo Luz, Ang Kiukok, Victorio Edades, and Jose Joya.
Our famous national artist likewise allocated a gallery showcasing his own masterpieces. The most celebrated of which is the “Series of Sabel,” a collection of paintings which show how BenCab had varied his rendering of his muse Sabel. Sabel is a scavenger or “taong-grasa this national artist met in Tondo.
After feasting one’s eye on the abundant art pieces, Café Sabel at the ground level promises to fill one’s hungry stomach. The beauty and uniqueness however of each art pieces have already stuffed my brain of wonderful thoughts that eating is not an option. The café has a nice design but some paintings on the wall looked too remote.
From the museum’s balcony, I was delighted to see the beautiful rice terraces-inspired garden. The mountain slopes are just as breathtaking as well as the small nipa hut at the center of a small pond. Walking through it intensified my excitement all the more. Though it was only four in the afternoon, fog covers the place. But the stubborn fog did not stop me from following the trail down the garden where various vegetables, strawberries, coffee, and sweet potatoes are planted. An aviary housing peacocks and an assortment of birds, and an animal farm with ducks, turkeys, and other local livestock further thrill me.
The BenCab museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from nine am to six in the afternoon. Admission fee is one hundred pesos only. Students and senior citizens with valid identification card, however, may enjoy a twenty percent discount.
April 12, 2011
* This trip was years ago. Again, putting the proper label to each post for my boys’ reference should they decide to explore the Philippines, Baguio in particular.
I will definitely add this to my list of places to visit when I move back there; A list that just keeps growing by the day.
haha, and by the time you know it, you have such long list you dont know where to go first. by anyway, yes, bencab is one museum you should not miss.
Great feature writing! I’m not too fond of museums (di ako cultured LOL), but the BenCab Museum seems worth visiting. I wish Baguio were nearer to Manila though. I just hate long land travels. But if ever have the chance to go to Baguio again, pupuntahan ko rin yang museum ni BenCab. Para naman hindi puro SM Baguio lang ang nasa itinerary ko.
haha, thanks. not a fan as well. mapapahanga ka lang talaga sa ganda ng mga art pieces (lalo na dun sa erotica gallery, ehehe) kaya talagang maeenjoy mo.
di kami nakapasok o nakadaan man lang sa sm baguio. hahaha
Thanks for sharing some great infos about BenCab museum, would love to visit the place. You took the pictures? They’re so breath-taking!
indeed such a nice place to visit. yes, i took the pictures. thanks for appreciating.
National Artist Ben Cabrera BenCab has taken his dream museum and gifted many of art culture and learning..BenCab said visitors are coming to the museum by the bus full nowadays. With the word spreading that the museum is open many are attracted by the quality artworks and regular exhibits the place offers..
Nice! My family and I went to Baguio last December and part of our itinerary is the Bencab Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed at that time. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this post. At least I have seen the museum even through pictures.
I am a sucker for art museums and think that it is always an interesting piece of history with a lot of stories to tell. I loved the gift shop and was silently looking through it in the pictures! It looks like a great way to spend the day!
Hey thanks for this..will pass on this info to my cousins in Manola..maybe they have visited this place already..else can tell them to ☺
You are welcome. Baguio is a favorite esp this summer.
I love to read about culture in Southeast Asia, as people generally associate that region with beach only. Thanks for showing us that there’s so much more! How far is Baguio from Manila?
Baguio is a five-hour bus ride from Manila. It has the most number of visitors during summer as its temperature is rather low compared in Manila and other parts of the country.
Museums are cool. History that still talks today. The erotic area reminds me of the sex museum in Amsterdam. I was so embarrassed when I was there haha! Was so much fun though! Funny to see that there is something like that over there as well.
Im intrigued about that sex museum in Amsterdam. Perhaps you could blog about it. 🙂
I love seeing museum and gallery posts, it’s so nice to see artwork and a little history from Southeast Asia! I have to say i really like erotica art, it’s so interesting and seeing how other people perceive the human body or sexualisation through art tastefully is fascinating to me. I really love the view outside, seeing the mountains is breathtaking!
The view is indeed breathtaking. And yes, I appreciated the Erotica Gallery, too. Our mind can be playful, too, at times and we tend to think of naughty things and interpret them differently.
I am not much of a fan of art but yeah, I could see myself dropping by once to see what there is to see. One thing I do like in museums and galleries, I like the solitude. It actually makes me focus on the displays. Too much crowd is a no no for me.
I also like that part on solitude. Few people only visit galleries thus you could enjoy both the art and the silence.
I’m really amaze that you still have your old photos and still remember what happen that day. There are so many things from my past life that I want to include in my blog but I can’t remember the other details so it remains draft. Anyway, I would love to go to Bencab Museum. My friends went there this past few days and I was not able to come with them. Hope me and my family can visit it.
Posts like these are either in drafts needing some find tuning or posted already but reposted lang and made some tweaks. I also cant remember most of my past adventures so its nice to write them down asap.
I saw my professor with a picture of Julie Lluch’s “Lily for Georgia”. Now I know where it was taken! Baguio is hometown but I haven’t personally visited this museum. I should add it on my bucket list once I return! 🙂
Haha. Cute of your professor to have a picture of it as her background (?). Yup, visiting BenCab Museum is worth the travel.
Been there twice and both are good experiences. Im still intrigued with who Sabel really is. heheh. As for the artworks.. i agree, everything is cool. especially the carved statues.
Visiting BenCab Museum will always be a good experience to me as well. 🙂
I’ve been to Baguio several times but have not been to this Museum (bad). Will include this on my next trip w/ kiddos
You will surely enjoy your visit. They have a cafeteria downstairs which serves organic dishes. They grow their own veggies, by the way.
You should do a post about the sex museum! I would love to read it
Haha. Inasmuch as I would love to, it seems I can no longer remember every detail of the tour. Haha, but thats a nice suggestion.