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BenCab Museum in Baguio City » Not Your Usual Boring Art Museum

Ifugao Mother and Child Wood Carvings
“I wasn’t planning on going anywhere after the Panagbenga street dancing —” Which sounded like crap when I said it, and my friends knew it. This is Baguio City blessed with lots of interesting places to visit.

“Maybe we should visit the strawberry farm or the Mines View Park,” suggested my officemate, obviously running out of ideas – knowing that this is not our first time in Baguio. These places, of course, are standard must-visit in Baguio for first timers.

With no planned itinerary, we decided to just have a nice leisurely stroll through Burnham Park but immediately lost interest due to the large crowd of visitors attending the Panagbenga Flower Festival.

Then I remembered reading a magazine article featuring BenCab Museum somewhere in Baguio. I hesitated suggesting the place, because adults usually have this idea that museums are just for student field trips.

However, I remembered the museum’s Erotica gallery, which contains paintings, drawings, sculpture and other artworks with erotic theme.

“Erotic gallery, you say?” So we hailed a cab going to BenCab museum without argument.

More than just Erotica

I don’t know if I’m just tired but judging from our taxi ride, the museum’s location seemed really far-off from the city though it took us only about 20-30 minutes from Burnham Park.
Mountain Houses in Baguio City
View of the Cordillera Mountains blanketed by residential houses and villas as depicted on canvass
The museum is actually located in Benguet at Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba. Along the zigzagging road going down Baguio City, I had a glimpse of the mind-blowing view of the Cordillera mountains, the residential villas which seemed hanging on cliffs and the South China sea in the distant west.
Bencab Museum Building Entrance
BenCab Museum entrance
I expected the museum to be an Ifugao inspired building, something like the Tam-awan village but to my surprise, we stopped at a four-storey modern structure nestled on a steep cliffside. Ironically, this is the only modern building on a series of typical residential houses and woodcarving shops and native handicraft stores along the highway. The museum is huge, high ceilinged and is covered with glass windows.
Curiosity-driven explorers as we are, with just a generic interest in the content of the BenCab museum, we unhurriedly entered the building and paid the 100 Pesos entrance fee without asking any art related questions.  We are just expecting to find something that will grab our attention – you know just to kill time.   

However, the museum proved to be a haven of interesting bits of the Cordillera and Ifugao heritage.
BenCab Museum Bulol Wood Carvings collection
Bulol wood carvings on display at BenCab Museum
The BenCab Museum houses the permanent collection of Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) in various galleries, which includes the Cordillera, Maestro, Print, Sepia, Patio Salvador, Philippine Contemporary Art and the Erotica Gallery, The collection also includes works of acknowledged Filipino masters and rising contemporary artists.
Ifugao Gods wood carvings
Samples of authentic indigenous wood carvings collection of BenCab
The granary gods, lime containers, native implements, weapons and other outstanding examples of indigenous arts and crafts of the Cordilleras are also highlighted aside from painting and other curio artworks – a reminder of the rich material culture and traditions of the northern Philippine highlands.

The Artist

BenCab Self Portrait in Pastel
Benedicto Reyes Cabrera — or BenCab, as he is more popularly known is widely hailed as a master of contemporary Philippine art. I thought he was a native of Baguio but I found out the he was born in Manila on April 10, 1942.

A painter and printmaker, he has exhibited widely in the Philippines and in Asia, Europe, and the United States. He has won several major art awards in a career spanning four decades. In 1992, he received the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining (Cultural Center of the Philippines Award for the Arts).

In 2006, he was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacanan Palace.

The Erotica Gallery
BenCab Museum Erotica Gallery Entrance Signage
Erotica Gallery entrance advisory
Erotica Gallery boasts of a few paintings, drawings, sculpture and other artworks by various artists with an erotic subject or theme.
Erotica Gallery Kama Sutra Painting
Kama Sutra type wall painting
Erotica Gallery BenCab Museum Woman Organ
 BenCab Museum Erotica Gallery Male Phallus with lizard

There is also a small collection of "bululs" or carved figures making love.
Bulol Woodcarvings collection
Erotica wood carvings

Mating dogs wood carvings
Café Sabel

BenCab Museum Cafe Sabel
Café Sabel, which overlooks the forest and duck pond, offers fresh and natural food in an ambiance that will refresh your palates and feed your soul.

The Farm and Garden
BenCab Museum Farm and Garden top view
The Farm and Garden below the museum showcase organic farm produce and the typical indigenous architecture of the Ifugao, Kalinga and Bontoc. A river meanders through the property, with cascading waterfalls on one end. The hill and mini forest across, which features an eco trail, is also the source of fresh spring water used in the museum and farm. The artist, assisted by native coworkers, grows seasonal vegetables, herbs, strawberries, sweet potatoes, coffee and ornamentals.
Duck Pond

Not Your Usual Boring Art Museum

I know that museums are a great way for curiosity driven explorers to learn about a place’s history, culture and art. But not all museums feature interesting works
Yodi wall art
Wall graffiti art at the entrance of BenCab Museum 
I am not an art-fanatic and I have to admit, there are some drawings and paintings that are difficult for me to appreciate. Sometimes I am baffled at how a painting can be called art when it looks like it can be done by anyone.

If you’re like me, then I can assure you that BenCab museum will be very entertaining and amusing.
BenCab Museum group souvenir photo
Group souvenir photo: (from left: Yodi, Weng and Mario)

BenCab Museum General Information

Museum hours: 
Open daily except Mondays, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day
from 9:00am to 6:00pm (last entry at 5:30pm)

Admission to the Museum:
General: PHP 100.00
Students and senior citizens with valid ID: PHP 80.00
Special rates for student groups with prior arrangement.

  • Guided tours of the Museum and Gardens may be arranged at the reception. 
  • Outside food and drinks are not permitted in the Museum. Food and drinks are permitted only in Café Sabel and may not be carried into the galleries or other areas. 
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Museum. 
  • Still photography for personal use is permitted. No flash or tripods allowed. Videotaping is permitted in the lobby only. No photographs or videotapes may be reproduced, distributed, or sold without permission from the Museum. 
  • Sketching is permitted in the galleries (pencil only, no ink or paint) with sketchbooks no larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 cm). No easels, stools, or sketching while sitting on the floor is permitted.
Transportation Access

Car: 15-20 minute drive from Baguio City center.
Public transport: Jeep to Asin from jeepney terminal near Baguio market.

Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan,
Tuba, Benguet, Philippines
Tel /Fax: (+63 74) 442 7165

References / Related Articles:

» BenCab Museum Official Website
» La Peña, Carmela G. “A visual feast at the BenCab museum” GMANews.TV Lifestyle/Culture. Posted: December 6, 2010 12:22pm  [Retrieved: 13 March 2012]
» “BenCab Museum Visit”. Multimedia / Video Interview.
» Servando, Kristine. “Art adventures at the BenCab Museum” Posted at 05/05/2009 6:13 PM. [Retrieved: 13 March 2012]

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