Whenever I go to Baguio, I would always wonder how life is, in grounds higher than Baguio itself. I wonder, beyond movies like Sabel, and Don’t give up on us, both Judy Ann Santos movies, what lies in the northern part of Luzon? Particularly, the Cordillera Autonomous Region?
Apart from knowing that this is where we can find the UNESCO World Heritage Site aka “8th Wonder of the World” – The Banaue Rice Terraces, which is found in the province of Ifugao, for a Dabaweño like me, little is known about this region and thus, my overflowing curiosity.
I’ve never been there yet, and it’s in my bucket list. With work not allowing me to plan my vacation leave months ahead, I am nailed into conducting my outdoor activities on weekends only. That for me, is, Saturday morning to Monday afternoon. =(
Baguio City is the center of the region, and though located within the Benguet province, is politically independent.
Going there, all I saw was the artistry that reflected the rich culture of the region. The tourist spots in Baguio would say how very proud the people there are of their ethnic origin. Drop by Minesview or the Botanical Garden (as of this writing is undergoing reconstruction), one would see the native dwellers of the region, known as Igorot.
We chanced upon the studio of Ben Cabrera, a National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts (2006), I knew I had to get inside. His artistry is diverse. He has nude drawings in a secluded “red room”, etchings, and rock sessions.
Entrance fee to the Bencab Museum along Asin Rd. is PhP 100 per head. Visit his website at http://bencabmuseum.org/
He co-founded the Baguio Artists Guild as well, and was instrumental in the creation of the Tam-awan Village, another haven for artists and art enthusiasts.
The entrance to Tam-awan is PhP 50.00 per head, which already includes entrance to art galleries, traditional Cordillera houses, a trek that leads to the sunset viewing deck, and a chance to watch the cultural dances of the Cordilleras.
Artists are also available to sketch portraits of the guests at PhP 100 per person, couples for PhP 300 per pair, with 2 artists’ take on the couples.
It is best to visit this area in the afternoon, and await the majestic sunset, as what Tam-awan really means in english: vantage point.
The Tam-Awan Cafe is teeming with artistry too, and sumptuous meals. Appetizers below PhP 100 and main courses at PhP 180-280. Visit their website at http://www.tam-awanvillage.com/
Entrance fee is PhP 50 for adults and PhP 30 for students. Open from 8am to 6pm.
The Baguio Museum is also available for public viewing, though 2 of its 4 floors are restricted for picture taking.
There one can see wooden carvings of miniature native villagers, a mummy, and authentic artifacts from the interior of the Cordilleras.
There is also a tarpaulin showing the Banaue Rice Terraces, by far, the closest I can ever get to the real thing. Pictures of the landmarks in Baguio from the 1900’s and recently are also shown here.
Entrance fee is PhP 50 per head. Visit their website at http://www.baguiomuseum.org/
I have never been an artist in my life, but I sure know how to appreciate artistry. And when in these places? I feel very lucky to be in the presence of such great artistic prowess. Visit the museums and feel for yourself the same nostalgia I feel every time I get into one.
Blog post originally posted in Dec. 2012 and updated in June 2015.