The BenCab Experience

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For the art enthusiasts like me, the BenCab Museum is one impeccable place to visit. It is located in Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet. Established in a four-level building,  it features our National Artist Ben Cabrera’s art collection. Benedicto Reyes Cabrera — or BenCab, as he is more known is popularly acclaimed as a Master of Contemporary Philippine Art. In this article, let me share with you my unparalleled BenCab Experience.

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Magnificent artworks salute you as you enter the museum.

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The Bulol Collection

The “Bul-ul or Bulol” is an Ifugao anthropomorphic carving that symbolizes an Ifugao rice god or guardian spirits. It also signifies fertility and is sometimes believed to house spirits of ancestors. A Bulul has a simplified shape of a human being, whether male or female. It consists of a simplified head, a torso, and a pair of hands and legs mounted on a platform for stability. It is carved out of strong narra or ipil wood and sometimes stone. Sizes also vary, depending on its use. Bululs are usually made in pairs, a male and a female, but some are done individually. This traditional art form may seem crude, lacking in sophistication, but it has been praised as a fine example of abstract art.

(Source: Unraveling the Bulul’s Spiritual Origin )

“Sabel” is a real-life scavenger that is mostly the major subject of Bencab’s Artworks through the decades. He photographed and sketch the Sabel image in 1965, and has become the artists instrument for the communication of profoundly emotional moods.

This vagrant woman is one of the best-known muses of the artist’s storied career. In her plainness, he saw beauty; in her anonymity, he saw an individual person who chose to live as she saw fit; in her weakness, he saw her native wit and strength. It is a tribute to Bencab that what he saw, what he painted, are what endure.

The museum has nine galleries. The Philippine Contemporary Art Galleries highlight the artist’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. The smaller exhibition rooms contain other collections accumulated by BenCab through the years.

BenCab Gallery features the artist’s own works over a continuing artistic career that spans more than four decades.

Cordillera Gallery is the warehouse of BenCab’s collection of indigenous crafts and tribal artifacts of the northern Philippine highlands – bulol rice granary gods, functional carved objects like furniture, spoons, bowls, and other utilitarian implements like baskets, as well as the weapons of the numerous tribes once known for their headhunting rituals.

Print Gallery highlights vintage maps, prints, photographs and postcards on the Philippines, along with contemporary prints and photographs. It is also used as a smaller venue for changing exhibitions.

Gallery Indigo.Taking its name from the gallery established by the artist in the 60s with his elder brother and fellow artist, Salvador Cabrera, Gallery Indigo is a venue for bimonthly art exhibitions.

Maestro Gallery houses a selection of works by Aguinaldo, Chabet, Edades, Joya, Legaspi, Luz, Magsaysay-Ho, Sanso, Zobel and other acknowledged masters of Philippine art.

Sepia Gallery is a tall gallery adjoining the museum shop.

The most impressive part of the museum for me is the Erotica Gallery. 

It embodies sculpture, drawings and paintings and other artworks by various artists with an erotic subject or theme. ( Source: Bencab Museum)

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The museum has the famous Café Sabel located at the lower level. It offers fresh and natural food that are sourced fresh daily from BenCab’s organic farm. The cafe overlooks the forest and a man made pond with a gazebo in the middle.
 Smoking is permitted only in the al fresco area of the cafe.

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In general, my visit to BenCab museum is greatly astonishing. This place is definitely a go to see when visiting the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

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