The BENCAB MUSEUM Experience

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The BenCab Museum is one of the most awesome museums in our country today.

It houses our National Artist Ben Cabrera’s art collection in a four-level building. This is also where BenCab lives and where his actual workshop is located. Exhibits of exciting contemporary artists in Manila can be found here, too.

What I love about this place is that it showcases the authentic old Baguio experience.

We were able to go to the museum as it celebrated its third year anniversary with three simultaneous exhibits. I would like to share with you our BenCab Museum visit…

Awesome Baguio Experience Series:

BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

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    The Main Entrance is located on the street level. You go down as you explore the entire museum.



    The BenCab Museum is open daily except Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day from 9:00am to 6:00pm (Note: the last entry is at 5:30pm). Entrance fee is P100, and P80 for students and senior citizens.

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    Annie Sarthou, BenCab’s partner, welcomes you to the museum. 🙂

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    Philippine Bamboo Art, in Sepia Gallery beside the Museum Shop, features the winners of the 1st Philippine Bamboo Carving Competition held recently in Baguio. The exhibition is presented by the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, headed by Ed Manda, which has introduced bamboo as an alternative medium to Ifugao woodcarvers whose livelihood has been threatened by the dwindling supply of hardwood.

    (Source: BenCab’s Opening Exhibit Speech)

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    Congratulations to the 1st Prize Winner: “Cordillera Culture” by Fernando Tabayan!

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    You have to use the stairs to go down the museum since there are no elevators.

    LEVEL 2:


    Level 2 is the most exciting floor of the museum. It features BenCab’s own works, his bulol collection, an Erotica Gallery and the main Indigo Gallery featuring various renowned artists.

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    The BenCab Gallery features the National Artist’s personal collection of his own artwork, mostly featuring Sabel. It is very limited because most of his works are owned by art patrons.

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    Sabel… BenCab’s Iconic Muse by Rene Guatlo

    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.

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    Bencab’s Bulol collection is also very interesting; each one has its own story to tell.

    The bulol, or “Ifugao rice god,” is a carved human figurine into which a certain class of anito is said to incorporate itself when worshipped. Bulols are kept in the house or granary, and are usually made in pairs. They are carved of narra wood, which represents wealth, happiness, and well-being. Every step in their production requires a ceremony, from tree selection to arrival at the owner’s house; a consecrated bulol has been bathed in pig’s blood, had myths recited to it, and received offerings of wine, ritual boxes, and rice cakes.
    (Source: Ifugao Bulol)

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    The Cordillera Gallery features collection of the different artifacts of the Cordillera Culture.

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    It is very interesting to see the different Hagabi on display.

    The hagabi is a long wooden bench, carved from a single piece of wood, which is a symbol of wealth and social prestige among the Ifugao. An elaborate public feast (also called hagabi) is given by the man of the rank of kadangyan (wealthy man) as part of the ritual to create the bench.

    Mumbaki (priest) first perform a ceremony called mamaldang to determine whether the omens are good enough to begin the ritual of searching for the right tree and carving the wood.

    (Source: Gallery Inscription)

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    One of the most talked about galleries in the museum is the artist’s Erotica Gallery.

    The advisory reads: This gallery contains works with imagery that may be offensive to minors and to certain individuals.

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    On this level, Indigo Gallery is the main gallery where contemporary artists are featured.

    Prism and Parallelism by Rodel Tapaya (February 25 to April 15, 2012)

    Celebrated painter, Rodel Tapaya, opens his solo exhibition, Prism and Parallelism in Gallery Indigo. The exhibition pieces together long-treasured folklores that hold unique representations of mythological heroes and indigenous fable characters in beautiful compositions that are as dense and complex as the originating text.

    Widely regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s most active artists, Tapaya has received numerous accolades in his young career, the most recent being the grand prize of the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize in 2011.

    (Source: BenCab’s Opening Exhibit Speech)

    Check out: OAPRodel Tapaya’s Prism and Parallelism

    LEVEL 3:


    Level 3 contains BenCab’s own collection of Philippine Contemporary Art and masterpieces of the maestros of art in the country.

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    Each level has its own terrace where you can have an awesome view of the garden and the forest. BenCab had to buy the forest area in front of the museum to protect it from other people who might (or would) want to build structures.

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    A sneak peek into the Philippine Contemporary Art Gallery I.

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    A sneak peek into the Philippine Contemporary Gallery II.

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    A sneak peek into the Maestro Gallery.

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    BenCab with his Bulol Collection.



    The lowest level is where you can find Cafe Sabel and the entrance to the farm and garden.

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    Cafe Sabel features family recipes by BenCab, ingredients from their own garden, and specialty home-cooked dishes by the chef.

    The Cafe also sells jams and marmalades, native chocolate, and homemade atchara for pasalubong.

    Check out: OAPCafe Sabel @ Bencab Museum

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    It was so relaxing to have lunch here while enjoying the wonderful view.


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    After lunch, you can opt to go on an eco-trail hike around the garden and the forest in front of the museum. You have to arrange for a guide to pass through the restricted areas.

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    You’ll see their strawberry fields…

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    …and greenhouses with different ornamental plants and flowers.

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    You can also check out the authentic Ifugao huts transplanted on the property, which houses the personal guests of BenCab.

    (They are still undecided about opening a Bed & Breakfast.)

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    The most fun part of the eco-trail is going to the other side of the mountain via a hanging bridge. The boys had fun crossing it. 🙂

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    You can hike to the spot with an awesome view of the entire property with BenCab’s House and Workshop on the top left, the BenCab Museum on the top right, the different Ifugao Huts, and the garden with the greenhouses.

    It only takes about 15 minutes to hike around the garden and the forest to reach this point. 

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    It was cool to just hang out in the nipa hut at the center of the duck pond after our hike. We watched the fishes and enjoyed the Baguio breeze.

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    Thanks to BenCab and Annie for showing us around the BenCab Museum with the boys!

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    Overall, it is a highly recommended experience. You should not miss visiting the BenCab Museum when you go up to Baguio.

    We suggest that you go and have lunch in Cafe Sabel and explore the eco-trail after. In the morning, you can go to the strawberry farm in La Trinidad (see: Strawberry Fields Forever…) before going here. If you have energetic kids, they will have a really fun time at the museum.

    It is also best to drop by when they are launching a new exhibit. You can inquire via email if you want to be included in the museum’s mailing list.

    Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan,
    Tuba, Benguet, Philippines
    Telephone: +63 74 442-7165
    Mobile: +63 920 530-1954
    Website: www.BenCabMuseum.Org

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

    Related Blog Posts on Baguio:

    BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

    Flavors of Baguio: Discover Baguio, One Bite at a Time!

    Awesome Baguio Experience Series:

    Awesome Baguio Experience Series II:

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    Full Disclosure: BenCab is a friend. We attended the launching of the Rodel Tapaya Exhibit. We paid for our meals. We are not connected with the establishment and any organization promoting it.

    P.S. You have to remember the following when you visit the museum:

    • 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.
    • Nothing is for sale in the museum’s permanent collection galleries, except for what is currently on exhibit in the changing gallery, Gallery Indigo, and also the items in the museum shop.

    Bencab Map
    Driving DirectionsFind your way towards Naguilian Road by passing through Burnham Park or via Session Road and go to Abanao St. Follow the signs going to Naguilian Road passing through a few stoplights. You have to watch out because you have to make a left turn towards Asin Road, which is after Recoletos but before Cooyeesan Mall.

    After you make a left turn along Asin Road, just follow the long winding road until you see Km. 6. You should see wood carving stores along the road. You won’t miss the BenCab Museum on your left. It should take you about 15 minutes to reach the museum from Burnham Park/Session Road.

    7 thoughts on “The BENCAB MUSEUM Experience

    1. We were supposed to visit this place last Feb 2011 if we still had time, but the lure of the surfing in La Union just one hour away whisked our priorities towards the sea 😛 Will go to this once all the wave of humanity from Baguio has gone down from their summer vacation 😛

    2. I hope the receptionist would be more friendly. It’s so overpriced. Paying 150 is too much. Even the price of coffee with its size really doesn’t match. I won’t recommend going there. Made me think Baguio City government should fix the public museum so people could have other options.

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