I always thought BenCab Museum is in Baguio, much like my thoughts about SM Megamall being in Pasig. Weirdly, this is one of the things I think of when talking about Baguio, along with Session Road, The Strawberry Farm, Burnham and Wright Park, and Camp John Hay. But it’s not in Baguio – it’s in Tuba, Benguet. Just a jeepney away from Baguio, nonetheless.
Benedicto Cabrera is a National Artist of the Philippines awardee, and has been hailed as the best-selling painter among the artists of his generation. The BenCab Museum (which is obviously named after him) exhibits some of his works (I presume a lot more isn’t there), and the place strongly reminded me of Antipolo’s Pinto Art Museum. The multiple-storey structure houses both contemporary arts and historical artifacts, evidences of life and culture of the early people of the Cordilleras.
If I’d be very honest though, the first thing I wanted to have is a picture of myself beside this painting called Lady With A Fan. I was hoping I could get more information about it, some sort of historical significance like maybe she was once a lady that all men in town swooned over. Sadly there wasn’t any. Insurrecto is one of the difficult books I’ve read, albeit its richness in imagery and historical symbolism that effectively took me back in time. I read it in 2019 and now I get to take a picture with the painting that adorned its cover.
The gallery that intrigued me the most is the one with erotica paintings. It’s in a discreet part of the building, and we didn’t even notice it was there until we looked closely at the map. Other museums I’ve visited also have erotica galleries which is kinda restricted to the children. I don’t totally agree with it. In my personal opinion, it’s the right avenue to teach children the sanctity of sex and the human body. That both things deserve respect. That women who show their legs and a bit of their skin aren’t asking for disrespect.
I am not sure how I acquired this growing fascination for fine arts. My brother is a painting major, and I’m always proud of how our old home looked like – the living room became his mini-gallery for some time. I feel like museums has its own distinct charm, akin to old libraries and its smell of old books and antique wood. Or maybe I am getting old and I am starting to appreciate simple things now, like peace and quiet for example.
Apart from the feast for the eyes that this place offers, the guests also get to convene with nature, as the mini-garden offers an experience of the spectacular view of greens and mountain ranges, plus the refreshing mountain breeze feels really good on the lungs and the skin. I should say it’s really both therapeutic and satisfying.
How to get there:
We got there from Baguio via cab – taxis are very common in Baguio with the windows roll down. The cold breeze brushing through my face is something I could never experience in Metro Manila.
Where to eat:
The museum has Cafe Isabel, but we’ve eaten before going there so we didn’t get to try their food. Right outside the museum there’s the taho vendor, offering Benguet’s ever-famous strawberry taho.
Strolls in the park still appeal to me, as you might have noticed I am a sucker for fresh air these days. But indoor strolls are also great, if only to feed my eyes of magnificent artworks and my brain of some critical evaluations (nuks, artist ka teh?) Anyway, next time you’re in Baguio, I suggest you visit the BenCab Museum. Everyone has been to Burnham Park anyway.