Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bencab Museum in Baguio

We spent a weekend in Baguio recently.  It was a relief from the searing heat of 38-degree Manila. Baguio was a pleasant 25 degrees during the day, and an even better 17 degrees at night. My air conditioners here at home are set at 20 degrees, so you can imagine how comfortable it is there.

A recent newspaper article written by Jim Paredes

G was off practicing with her CISV friends, so we took C with us when we went to the Bencab museum

BenCab is Ben Cabrera, a Filipino artist who was given the title of National Artist in 2006. He lives in Baguio and set up this three-storey museum a few years ago. There's usually one featured artist in the main exhibition hall one floor below street level.

Tucked into one side of this hall is an erotica gallery. Quite interesting...

You may want to divert the attention of your very young companions  towards the Bulol wall on the opposite side of the room instead.

One whole room is dedicated to Bencab's collection of wood carvings from the Cordillera region, which is part of the CAR or Cordillera Administrative Region (I learned this from G's grade 3 Social Studies lessons--together with Mimaropa, ARMM and more. Yup, I know my local geography. Test me!)

Bencab's own paintings are displayed in one gallery, while other rooms are filled with his collection of paintings done by contemporary Filipino artists.  There is also a room of Philippine maestros, and still another gallery dedicated to photography.

Natural light spills into the galleries though transom windows and glass sliding doors.

I was surprised at the number of artwork displayed in this museum. You can easily spend a full morning or afternoon here if you are artistically inclined. If you're not familiar with the styles of some Philippine artists, this is a good introduction to see what attracts you.

Right outside the galleries on the lower level is this balcony with an arresting view of the mountains. While Manila is struggling to keep things from turning brown during this hot summer, Baguio remains green.

This is the duck pond in the lowest level of the property.

I particularly liked the maestro gallery. From left to right: Araceli Limcaco-Dans, Juvenal Sanso and Edades.

There's also a cafe at the lowest level called Cafe Sabel.

We ordered a salad, tomato soup and a pasta with pesto.  C explored the rest of the grounds while waiting for the food to arrive.

C takes pictures of everything with her camera...just like mommy! 

Trashcan with artistic carved handle in the garden

What looked equally interesting is the property beside the museum (I'm told that the artist lives here too). Down the path are different kinds of Mountain Province dwellings. 

But we just couldn't cross over to the other side so maybe that area wasn't open to visitors that day. The webstie says that this is "architectural" part of the museum. Too bad we didn't get to trek to these  indigenous Mountain Province homes. 

 In the garden of the National Museum in 2007

I think the National Museum in Manila has one of these Mountain Province homes on display. I remember seeing it during my SIL's wedding reception in 2007. After we took pictures in the garden, the kids saw the kubo on stilts, climbed in and didn't want to come down. I was so worried their beautiful Rajo Laurel dresses would be too formal get ruined.

Our food arrived after a bit. The pesto was the best of everything we ordered. 

If you're in Baguio, go see the museum. It's a world class museum in a unique setting. Thank you Bencab, for this magnificent gift to the city of disappearing Pines.

Bencab Museum
Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan,
Tuba, Benguet, Philippines
Tel /Fax: (+63 74) 442 7165

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