A few months ago someone invited me to BenCab Museum and before I answered, I consulted my best friend Google because I was sure the museum is not located in Manila, "In Baguio?"Anyway, that never happened because Baguio is about 5 hours away for just a leisurely trip to see art. So when some friends invited me to join them to Baguio, the first thing I said was "Let's go to BenCab", and we did.
BenCab is home to the work of National Artist, Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, or BenCab. It is located in Tuba, which is a little far from the city but it's a trip worth taking. It's smaller than I expected, so you only need a little over an hour to explore it. My friends and I enjoyed our visit. From the strawberry taho being sold outside, to the pieces of art, to the many areas perfect for artistic photography--it was the highlight of our trip. And I would recommend it to everyone visiting Baguio.
Anyway, here are a few pieces that I loved at BenCab...
This piece is entitled, "When the Walls Come Down" and I can imagine that the 1990 earthquake that broke Baguio is the inspiration for this. When the walls came down, many people got trapped inside broken buildings for days, before they were rescued. They waited--probably losing hope as days passed, and I can only imagine what it must be like in that situation--to not know whether you will live another day or not. My uncle passed away in that quake. He escaped just in time, but went back, and the walls came down on him.
It's funny how society loves to paint women as shopaholics, hence "Manila Girls Shopping". While that may be true for a lot of women, even myself, I know of many men who are shopaholics too. My father is a shopaholic-- and it plays to our favor, especially when we travel because you can be sure that shopping is on the agenda. Oh, you have no idea how crazy my Papa was when he fixates on something and starts to hoard. He loves the mall. He loves to buy his favorite things: tissue paper, cable ties, bath foam, white briefs, 3-in-1 coffee, white socks and so many others. Anyway, shopping is fun and it has therapeutic gains. I love shopping best when I'm feeling down because my spending power invigorates me in a very superficial way. How about you?
I know how it is to be "Almost Mad" and the piece depicts the moment in accuracy. When you're almost about to burst, you get an awful rush that clouds your head, so you're like a ticking time bomb. Like a brewing storm, the internal monologue in your head is a deafening raucous, that wants to break free. The color red represents the blood rush--the vein popping marathon circulation of your blood from your thumping heart. I hate it when I'm almost mad because you're at a fork road and you can either be the better man, and suppress it or indulge the rise and explode.
Will you be MAD or will you calm down?
Traydor. I do not hate America but it's true, we are often among traitors. In my younger years, I enjoyed travelling to the US, but the so-called American dream has brought drama to my family to the point of it being unhealthy, already. Sometimes I wonder why we're too mesmerized with a country that has done more bad than good to the rest of the world. Yes they aid third world countries in times of need, as a wealthy country with interests to protect, these investments are really worth taking. They hold a pivotal role in the international "Game of Thrones", and we've always agreed to be a pawn in their game ploys. My Papa used to say America is and will be further punished for their sins. I don't know what the artist wanted to convey when he created this piece, but that's how I see it.
We are always "Ready to Hope", right? Hope is the ray of light that we rely on when things do not make sense and you are filled with questions. Hope is the one thing you can count on to turn things around. In the painting the subject's eyes are covered because hoping is putting blind trust on something or someone. It is closing your eyes and having faith on what's to come. In the past I used to go to lengths to be able to maneuver my life. It's a tiring process that does not guarantee favorable results. Now, I have learned to surrender my life. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year---and like the subject on the painting, I have a blindfold over my eyes. Am I afraid? Oh I am--but it's okay.
The text caption on the painting says, "Wag mong damdamin ang mga bagay, dahil ang mga bagay ay walang damdamin". (Do not worry about things, because things do not have feelings). The English translation may be off, and it slightly departs from the idea, so I will interpret the quote in Filipino which to me may be seen in two ways. The direct meaning says that you shouldn't worry about material things because material things do not have emotions, which is true. Therefore you should not worry about the worldly things in this life because it holds no bearing and will not define or qualify your existence. The alternate meaning may suggest that the "thing" is a person. And just the same it says that you shouldn't care about this "thing", especially since it feels nothing.
It feels nothing. So if it feels nothing, why should you care?
This is a timely piece. Today we're dealing with all kinds of "Spin Doctors" in media. The piece depict them as half naked individuals with masks because they bare truth behind masks. They hide behind masks because they do not want to be caught in a lie. I often get frustrated with news nowadays. It's not completely spun, of course, but news are written and presented differently, that's why I always look for actual interviews. If I have to watch hours worth of speeches, I will, just so I could get the whole context. Spin doctors are manipulators. They abuse power that they have and they hide behind masks. All kinds of manipulators are frightening--you should be wary of spin doctors.
I love art. BenCab mostly showcases paintings and indigenous art--and I loved the paintings. I can look at a painting and stare at it for hours, writing a story about it. I am not a skilled painter, but I wish I am. Maybe one day I'll try but for now I'm just going to continue with my adult coloring books.
Km 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan
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P.S. Cafe Sabel is located at the basement and it has a perfect window view that you will surely enjoy.