Philippine National Artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, more popular known by his shortened name, BenCab, has carved his own place at Baguio by erecting his very own museum on a top of the hill at the outskirts of the city.
BenCab, has been tagged by writer Jennifer Lapira as "arguably the best-selling painter of his generation of Filipino artists." Born in Malabon, Philippines where he was influenced by his brother Salvador into the arts. He migrated to London after marrying a British writer and from there his career in painting blossomed. Doing exhibits from London to New York to Macau. He went back to the Philippines after a divorce and finally settled in Baguio, forming the Baguio Arts Guild with film director Kidlat Tahimik and sculptor Ben Hur Villanueva.
The modern looking museum can be reached either via cab, tell the driver to drop you at Asin Road Kilometer 6, or via the more popular Pinoy transportation, the jeepney. The terminal of which can be found near the market along city hall, look for Asin Road Km 6 jeeps.
The zigzagging ride takes about half an hour, get the seat out front with the driver for a scenic ride. If you are taking the jeepney route, don't worry about going past the museum as the jeep's terminal in about two minutes walk away from the museum.
What impressed me upon first view of the museum's facade it its big dark door. Unlike most modern building, it is made of solid wood and you can barely glimpse the building's hidden gems through the small slits of windows besides it. It invites you to come discover the place without actually giving away what is inside.
The interior is spartanly designed; gliding white flat walls interpose on one another giving it a sense of simplicity without being overtly simplistic. It of course fits perfectly as a backdrop for the artworks housed inside.
The museum's centerpiece is BenCab's Bulol collection. A Bulol is sculpture of a human figure carved on a Narra wood. It is considered a Rice God for the Ifugao people. According to one of the museum personnel these idols are actually Bencab's own collection and each of them are authentic artifacts.
The museum is divided into three levels and is compartmented into ten parts. The BenCab Gallery, Cordillera Gallery, Philippine Contemporary Art Gallery 1 & 2, Maestro Gallery, Erotica Gallery (no children allowed inside), Print Gallery (my favorite), Sepia Gallery, Patio Salvador and Larawan Hall.
Cafe Sabel, named after Bencab's favorite model, is located at the lowermost part of the building. Food is good and is served in generously sized quantities. Price is a bit steep though, a meal will cost you around P200. It makes up for it though with the view. Directly facing the huge windows of the resto is a duck pond with a hut and a mountainful of greens. It appears that BenCab purchased the adjacent hill to prevent houses from being built there, maintaining museum's mountain ambience.
After a grand tour of the galleries, you can then spend some time relaxing down by the cafe. Order a glass of hot coffee or chocolate and wait for the sun to dip down the horizon before calling it a day.
The Museum opens its doors from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 6pm
Entrance fee is at 100 per head
Cafe Sabel can be accessed without paying the museum fee, ask the guards.
Ring them up at (074) 442-7165
PART OF A 3-DAY BAGUIO SERIES
BURNHAM PARK | PIZZA VOLANTE | UKAY UKAY | OH MY GULAY! | THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL | BENCAB MUSEUM
MINES VIEW PARK | CAMP JOHN HAY | FOREST HOUSE BISTRO & CAFE | STARBUCKS COFFEE AT CAMP JOHN HAY