Since Baguio is a popular destination for Manila folks , sometimes you end up going to the same places every time you make your way up the mountain city–Cafe By The Ruins, Camp John Hay, the public market, Session Road, Tam-awan Village, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Good Shepherd Convent.
They’re all worth a stop, but when a new place opens, and one that showcases contemporary art from the country’s masters as well as the indigenous Cordillera art and crafts, one has to set aside a morning (or afternoon) devoted to just exploring and appreciating local artwork
The BenCab Museum is one of the relatively new places to see in Baguio. It houses several galleries including, of course, the works of Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) over the span of more than 40 years. (According to its brochure, it’s a project of the BenCab Art Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization that supports activities related to the arts and the environment.) It’s an extensive and impressive body of work, but the museum also features works of other artists.
The works of the country’s acknowledged masters of art are in the Maestro Gallery (Sanso, Chabet, Luz, Joya, etc.); the “artist’s collection of tribal artifacts and indigenous crafts of northern Philippine highlands” are in the Cordillera Gallery; there are two Philippine Contemporary Art Galleries; an Erotica Gallery (where a friend made the mistake of bringing her devout Christian and conservative mother to and never heard the end of it); and a few other galleries for changing exhibitions.
The museum is built on a promontory and features (as far as I recall) five floors, from the lobby in the ground floor down to the farm and garden. Each floor has different galleries and when you want to take a break from all the art work within the walls of the museum, you can step out to the terrace and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains and even the South China Sea in the distance.
From the ground floor (the topmost floor) you can also take in the view of the farm and garden below. There, organic vegetables, sweet potatoes, herbs, and (Baguio’s famous fruit) strawberries are grown. Aside from BenCab Musuem being another space for art in Baguio (the country seriously needs more of it), I love how after walking around the museum, after ooh-ing and aah-ing in front of some paintings, you find yourself surrounded by more stunning views.
Address: Km 6. Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet, Philippines (If you’re taking public transport, go to the jeepney terminal near Baguio Market, take the jeepney going to Asin, tell the driver Km. 6; it’s the last stop and you need to walk for a minute from the Asin terminal to the museum.)
Museum hours: Tue to Sun 9 am to 6 pm (last entry, 5:30 pm), closed on Mon
Admission: PHP100 (students and senior citizens with valid ID, PHP80)