A Brief Glimpse of Contemporary Art at Bencab Museum

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A visit to Baguio is not complete without a glimpse at contemporary art. 6 kilometers from the center of the city is the municipality of Tuba, Benguet. In this rural town is a popular tourist attraction that combines nature, art and good food. It is the BenCab Museum of Benedicto Cabrera who is hailed as the master of contemporary art in the Philippines.

I visited the museum on a Sunday morning and I was overwhelmed by the number of tourists closely inspecting the various pieces of artwork. It was actually easy to find the museum because most of the taxi drivers in the city knew the location. It was only a 20-minute drive from the city through roads that were half covered were fog.

The BenCab museum is actually a piece of art with the combination of modern architecture and nature. Aside from the galleries, the museum boasts of a café where you can rest and take a deep breath of the cool Baguio air. Photographers will be ecstatic with the gorgeous landscape and the majestic beauty of the scenery from the balconies of the museum.

Most of the paintings, carvings and artifacts were influenced by the Cordillera culture and traditions. The first things I noticed in the gallery was the “bul’ul” or the rice god who was believed to be responsible for ensuring that there is a good rice harvest. Bul’ul is treated with deep respect otherwise, it is believed to bring pestilence.

Other examples of indigenous art are the hand-carved tribal weapons, lime containers and traditional pieces of equipment. All these objects have been preserved and taken care of in order to give visitors a brief glimpse of Cordillera culture and traditions. Aside from the collection of the Ben Cab paintings, there were other pieces of art made by local contemporary artists who are trying to build a name.

After a tour of the galleries, I decided to try the local coffee at Café Isabel and enjoy the homey ambiance with its colorful interiors and the stunning view of the garden with lush greenery and blooming flowers. It is definitely an experience that I would always remember.

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