Inspiration is found just about anywhere. National Artist for Painting, Benedicto Cabrera aka BenCab, found his looking through a window of his home in Bambang- a bag lady.
Her name is Sabel.
She became an icon.
BenCab’s Sabel series must be one of the most coveted works in the art collector’s circle. I have dreamt of owning one but the possibility is a hazy, at the moment. Not only is the availability of one absent, the means is way beyond me as well. So I am content in admiring Sabel on some lucky person’s wall until the blessing falls on my lap.
The quick stop in Baguio afforded me more luck than what I had hoped for. Everyone in the group agreed that the BenCab museum must be visited before making our way back to Manila.
My first encounter with BenCab was during a group photo exhibit held in SM Davao. I’m a big fan so I won’t let the opportunity of having a snapshot with him pass. This would be the second, in his Baguio “home” no less.
Asin, where the BenCab Museum is, is always a stop whenever I find myself in Baguio. It’s where the woodcarving artisans are and I always manage to take an artwork home. With the museum’s addition to the area, the Asin road is now busier.
This artist’s commitment to the promotion of the arts and preservation of nature moved him to build this home for the arts nestled in the verdant hills of the place that fascinated him in his younger years. He made Baguio his home in the 80’s and today, he built a museum to bring art closer to the people.
The museum houses BenCab’s collections along with the other Filipino masters and up and coming contemporary artists as permanent exhibits in several rooms —BenCab, Contemporary Artists, Maestro, Erotica galleries.
The Cordillera Gallery highlights the culture and traditions of the northern highlands. Indigenous art is reflected in an extensive collection of everyday objects — lime containers, utilitarian implements, furniture, weapons, etc., a room filled with native articles that serve as a reminder of the rich culture and tradition of the place that captivated the artist.
As I wander along the galleries, somehow it was always Sabel that captured my attention. So I spent as much time as I can with this iconic subject. Staring at her, admiring her, somehow I can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find her way into my home? Nothing is impossible.
In the meantime, I will have to be content with a BenCab print from the museum shop. No more Sabel but I took home one with several ladies in it.
BenCab Museum (http://bencabmuseum.org/) is at Km. 6 Asin Road and is open daily except Mondays, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day from 9:00am to 6:00pm with last entry at 5:30pm. General Admission – Php 100.00; Students and senior citizens with valid ID – Php 80.00. Special rates for student groups with prior arrangement.