Local Philippines Travel Stories

Art Lovers' Havens in the North

If you've visited Baguio many times before, you may think that you've run out of things to do in the country's summer capital. But there are other things that you can include in your checklist aside from the usual visits to Burnham Park and Mines View Park.

You can take a "different trip" by immersing in culture and arts in the Mountain Province.

Fifteen minutes away from Baguio City is Tam-awan Village in Brgy. Pinsao. Tam-awan, whose name comes from the word tanaw or view, was once a vast pastureland. The Chanum Foundation Inc. transformed the place into a haven of Cordillera's heritage. The village features interesting art installations inspired by the way of life in the mountains. You also get to check out the native huts of the Cordilleras without having to trek and sweat.

Four kilometers away from Pinsao is the BenCab Museum. You can indulge in a visual feast with the unconventional art pieces picked by Ben Cabrera, National Artist for Visual Arts. You can even meet the artist himself.

One foggy afternoon, the 69 year-old artist welcomed the Lakbay Norte 2 group in his personal museum, where most of his works and his friends' pieces are displayed.

Cabrera, who's been an artist for five decades, disclosed that his museum was "two years in the making". However, they only began construction in February 2010. Since he opened his museum, around 60 to 80 tourists, mostly Filipino balikbayans, visit the place daily. "This museum is really to preserve the artifacts and culture through arts. The highland culture is already vanishing," said Cabrera.

Curiosity and life's experiences inspired Cabrera to create his extraordinary paintings. Be it on a canvass or ceramic tiles, Cabrera tells a visual story that goes beyond the usual subjects.

Compared to the Manila art scene, Cabrera told us that artists are very much alive in Benguet through the Baguio Arts Guild Festival. Cabrera mused that while contemporary artists follow the trend of depicting Gothic themes in their art pieces, his paintings dwell on realism.

Aside from paintings, sculptures of the bulol, the Ifugaos' rice god icon, can be seen in the museum.

After spending time with thought-provoking art pieces, we then filled our stomachs with the local flavors of brewed Benguet coffee and spicy tuyo pasta at Cafe Sabel, which is located at the ground floor of the museum.

The BenCab Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, at 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., while Tam-awan Village is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

*************** Source: Art lovers' Havens in the North by Izah Morales.

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Snorkeling at Honda Bay

Visitors flock to Honda Bay for its beautiful coral reefs and numerous fishes. These are the reasons why one of the famous activity in the area is snorkeling.

Location: Honda Bay (Pambato Reef or Snake Island), less than an hour away from Puerto Princesa City.

Fees: Boat for the island hopping costs PhP 1,500. Pambato Reef charges PhP 50 per head. Snake Island is free.

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