One of the most visited destinations in the Philippines is Baguio City. Known as the summer capital of the country, it has an all-year-round cold weather due to its location at the mountainous province of Benguet. Although Baguio has become quite commercialized, I still consider this city a bit cozy as compared to Manila. A few establishments did not hurt. The pollution though is a different story.
Growing up, I’ve visited Baguio countless of times. I was really young and I remember only going there as a guest to my mom’s company outing. I have only truly learned to love it the moment I went there as a grown. You could say it’s because this time, I owned the memories and I participated in its entirety.
Last summer of 2014, my cousin invited me to join them on their extended weekend at Baguio. I would never turn down that kind of invitation. So even if they headed there a day before me, I took the night bus, alone, and arrived at 1 am. Crazy? No. Scared? Not even. Excited? You bet I was.
Going out of the usual must-see places, we went to the BenCab Museum, which was a quick drive from the city center.
I actually didn’t know what to expect, which is why I was pretty amazed by the variety of art collections here. The BenCab museum houses the artworks of one of our national artist, Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, his personal collection, and a collection from other local contemporary artists as well. The BenCab museum, just like any museum, has an overwhelming art collection. It exhibits both contemporary and indigenous works of art with emphasis on the cultures and traditions of the Cordilleras.
Upon entering the museum, we were welcomed with wood carvings showcasing the bulol, an Ifugao rice granary god. The bulols are usually kept in a house or in a granary, as it is believed that it will bring a good harvest. They are usually made in pairs, of which a certain kind of ritual/ceremony needs to be performed.
Please note that the human beings (extended family on the right) are not included in the bulol group of carvings.
As seen in this photo, they are seated long wooden bench known as a hagabi. The hagabi is carved from a single piece of wood, symbolizing wealth and social prestige among the Ifugaos. Just like the bulol, a certain ceremony is also performed in the process of creating a hagabi. A Mumbaki (priest) performs a ceremony (mamaldang) to determine whether the omens are good enough to begin the ritual of searching for the right tree and carving the wood. (source: BenCab museum)
Other functional wood carvings could also be found in the museum which are featured in the Cordillera Gallery.
I am not entirely sure if I could post photos of some pieces that I really liked, so I’ll just post a few that doesn’t necessarily focus on them.
Among the collections, one of the most attention-grabbing is the Erotica gallery. I think it was a bit blunt but not really provocative in a society of a somewhat conservative Filipinos. My cousin has an equally blunt and a bit provocative poses with the pieces there (fortunately, not for public viewing… for your sake :D).
The museum itself is quite a sight. It is a 4-storey modern building situated in a beautiful location, surrounded by greenery. Yes, it has a very lovely view. 🙂
To my surprise (I told you, I didn’t know what to expect!), the so-called greenery is highlighted with a very beautiful garden below.
Other than the galleries and the garden, it also has a farm and a cafe (Sabel Cafe). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the garden and hadn’t stayed for snacks either.
Normally, I would spend at least a day in visiting a museum and indulge until I feel like there’s an art overload.–this, coming from a not-so-artsy kind of person (yep, I’m a work in progress as I am more on the analytical/technical side by default). Our time this day wasn’t enough, though. So I guess I would be coming back here.
This post probably doesn’t suffice the much deserved intro of what the BenCab Museum has to offer. However, I do believe that sharing is important. 🙂
For further information about BenCab Museum, please refer to the details below:
Open on Tuesdays to Sundays 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Admission is PHP 100.00
*Students and senior citizens with valid ID: PHP 80.00