• BENCAB’S BAGUIO

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    National Artist for the Visual Arts Benedicto Reyes Cabrera has been a resident of Baguio City for the past 23 years. Away from the hustle and bustle of Manila, Bencab, as he is called, he has made remarkable contributions to the arts scene in the city, revitalizing it with other artists with their creativity. In 2009, he opened the Bencab Museum which is committed to promote the arts, preserve and conserve the environment and the culture and traditions of the Cordilleras, an expression of his gratitude to the country that nurtured and inspired an artistic career that continues to grow, mature, and fascinate. This is his Baguio.

     
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    Bencab basks in the beauty of Baguio by the duck pond and gazebo in the Bencab Museum’s Farm and Garden area, which showcases organic farm produce; Ifugao, Kalinga, and Bontoc huts; and an aviary and animal farm.

    “I have always loved Baguio – the weather, the quietness, the tranquilty. There are also a number of artists like Santi Bose, Robert Villanueva, Dave Barradas, Kidlat Tahimik, and Kawayan de Guia who live here because it’s conducive to creativity. “

    “The fact that Baguio is part of the Cordillera region also serves as an inspiration to artists. There’s the Ibaloi art, the Kalinga art, which are all really fascinating. I consider the Ifugaos complete artists – they’re farmers, carvers, and weavers.”

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    Tam-awan Village in Pinsao Proper, Baguio City uniquely blends indigenous aesthetics and exquisite Cordilleran craftsmanship with an artist’s concept for a village adapting to the Baguio setting. On a land near an abundant spring, the village now has seven Ifugao huts and two Kalinga houses, and has become a venue for art exhibits and workshops.

    “The idea of a village as a venue to learn about the culture of the Cordilleras came about in 1998 when some Baguio artists including myself started Tam-awan Village. “

    “It’s an artist’s village as well and I love the place.”

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    Organized, owned, designed, and run by artists, Café by the Ruins just across Baguio City Hall is known for a menu that changes with the seasons, representing not only a restaurant concept, but also an ethos.

    “Like most artists, I like the ambience and food of Café by the Ruins”

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    The Farm and Garden area of the Bencab Museum grows ornamental plants like these beautiful anthuriums.

    “An American friend who was farming here told me he was moving to Thailand, and asked me if I wanted to take over the remaining 12 years of his lease. At first I wasn’t interested, but he gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

    “At first, we were just farming, but the owner of the land, who was Ibaloi came to me and started selling portions. I was buying little by little until it became mine. And then I started liking it and had it terraced. And then the idea of having a museum combining art made by man and art made by nature came up.”

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    Bencab Museum is located on Km.6 Asin Road, and commands a breathtaking view of the adjacent garden, farm hill, and mini-forest, the surrounding mountains, and the South China Sea in the distant area.

    With its vision of bringing arts closer to the people, the museum houses the artist’s collection of his own works, as well as those of acknowledged Filipino masters, rising contemporary artists, as well as his own collection of Cordillera art.

    “I have been collecting art for more than 30 years – Cordillera art as well as the works of young artists. After some time I thought I have to house this properly, and the idea of having a personal museum and sharing it with others came about.”

    “Raymond Sarmiento, an excellent designer who used to work for National Artist Leandro V. Locsin volunteered to design the place, and I’m very happy with it. It took us 21/2 years to build before we opened in February 2009. We’ve had good reactions since that time.”

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    The Museum includes Bencab’s extensive collection of bul-ols or granary gods, as well as lime containers, native implements, weapons, and other examples of indigenous arts and crafts from the Cordilleras- a reminder of the rich material culture and traditions of the northern Philippine highlands that fascinated Bencab since the 1960s and part of the reason why he has made Baguio his home since the mid 80s.

    “Bul-ols are granary gods who guard the rice and serve as reminders of their ancestors as well. That’s why they always come in pairs..”

    “I have been collecting bul-ols and other forms of Cordillera art for quite sometime and I like the way this wall in the museum was styled. It’s in Gothic style with anitos instead of santos.”

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    Located along Session Road, SM City Baguio was designed to follow the terrain of the land with terraces so that shoppers can enjoy the breathtaking scenery and cool mountain air in the City of Pines. It has also raised the standards of shopping in the city by combining international and national brands as well as homegrown retailers.

    “SM has changed the way people live and shop in Baguio. It is a one- stop shop that has everything.”