Baguio City in the Cordillera region in the northern Philippines is dubbed as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” that is why people flock here throughout the year especially during summer to escape the heat in their places of origin. Aside from the cold weather, amazing views, and good food, Baguio City also presents a unique cultural heritage that is distinct from the rest of the country. We are very lucky that several museums are built around the city to showcase the art, history, and culture of the region. Below are five of the several museums that are really worth the visit:
- BenCab Museum
BenCab, or Benjamin Cabrera, is a National Artist for Visual Arts, is the owner of this majestic museum. It houses several of his contemporary art collections and own works. You will also see many bul-ul (a carved wooden figure used to guard the rice crops by the Ifugaos) installations here. “Sabel” a common theme in BanCab’s works, is actually inspired by a real-life scavenger. A coffee shop is located at the ground floor of the museum which he also named “Sabel”. An eco-trail outside Sabel Café where traditional Cordillera houses can be seen can also be explored for a separate fee, just ask the café staff to avail. Nature and art combined indeed. Entrance fee is Php100 (Php80 for students and senior citizens).
- Tam-Awan Village
The Tam-Awan Village or the “Garden in the Sky” is a depiction of a traditional Cordillera community. It’s not a typical museum where artifacts and artworks are installed in one building. It is more of an outdoor museum with steep trails. Typical Ifugao and Kalinga houses can be seen here along with different artworks. In here you can also find a dream catcher art area.
- Baguio Museum
It building façade has an Ifugao-inspired architecture and it showcases the culture and heritage of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), by province. It also has dioramas (like that of Ayala Museum) depicting the daily lives of the different tribes and ethnic groups. This museum also houses an actual mummified human body, which by the way is prohibited to be photographed. Scary!
- Bell House
The Bell House is named after General J. Franklin Bell who developed Camp John Hay into a military recreation area. The House contains a library and a typical American interior and architecture with different memorabilia from the American period.
- Arca’s Yard
Arca’s Yard is a mini-museum, mini-library and café located at Ambuklao Road. It houses different books and sculptures which depict the Cordillera culture and some contemporary artworks. The view here is spectacular, I promise.
Bonus: Cemetery of Negativity
This is not a museum which can give you a glimpse of the history and culture of the Cordilleras, but this is also a must-see in Baguio City and is part of the Camp John Hay Historical Core. It presents different causes of deaths due to negativity. Who would have thought that reading epitaphs could be fun?