A Memorable Encounter with Mr. Ben Cab at Ben Cab Museum

Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet province 

The BenCab Museum is a project of the BenCab Art Foundation, a non-stock organization that supports activities related to the arts and environment. There are 12 founders of the organization and Azalea Residences together with group of media , bloggers and Instagram users visited the museum.

Ben Cab Museum facade

The museum and the restaurant is getting a lot of positive reviews from both local and international travelers . There is also an Eco- Trail , where one can visit the forested area for 2 to 3 hours trek to at least half day trek.  There is an additional fee for the tour guiding, briefing and trek .

an ifugao hut , native hut and forested area 

The forested area were planted with pines and other native trees  by Mr. Ben Cab and his artists friend . Although there is a portion of the property where non-native trees species ( like mahogany  and african tulip trees ) and exotic ornamental plants like bromeliads are incorporated in the landscape .

back portion of the museum 

trip advisor and visitor’s guide

Among the well-known personalities who form part of foundation included Mr. Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera – Founder , Mr. Rico Hizon ( television and international anchor ) , Mr.Bobby P. Gopiao ( bonsai and antique furniture collector ) , Professor Ambeth Ocampo ( historian, professor , author and columnist) among others.

group photo

It was in early 2008 when we have heard from local people around Tam-Awan Village that Mr. Ben Cab is constructing a museum / workshop / gallery within Benguet and Baguio area.

 steel sculpture 

Unfortunately , We were not able to visit the museum/ gallery in our last visit in 2011 , as we went to different places like  BSU and farms around Benguet , missing the opportunity to visit the famed place.

32 variation of Sabel glaze on Mariwasa tiles 2008 – Edison T. Co Seteng Patio 

nude painting

National Artist Ben Cabrera’s art collection in a four-level building. This is also where BenCab lives and where his actual workshop is located. Exhibits of exciting contemporary artists in Manila  and Benguet can be found here, too.

group photo

We are fortunate to have spotted Mr. Ben Cab while queuing at the main lobby of his museum / workshop area.

museum shop 

There are different galleries , each are thematic which focuses on a particular theme , sketches, drawing , paintings, sculptures ,  contemporary art works , artifacts , furniture . There is also a museum shop , where interesting art works , view cards and postcards by Mr. Ben Cabrera are being sold.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Tuesdays to Sundays 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
(last entry at 5:30 pm). Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Admission to the Museum:

General admission – Php120
Students with valid school ID – Php100
Seniors/ PWD with valid IDs – Php80
Special rates for student & organized groups with minimum of 30 guests
EcoTrail tour – same as above

Website: http://www.bencabmuseum.org/

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Tam Awan Village – artist village

Tam-awan is an indigenous Ibaloi term  ” Tan- Aw” which means ” vantage point” or ” to see”  – there are several vantage points within the village where one can see – South China Sea on clear days.

It is located in a higly elevated area in the northwestern part of the city. The road to Tam-awan village is also a well known shortcut to La Trinidad Benguet. One can take a short trek and a cultural immersion while discovering Cordilleras colorful past.

Igorot goddesses- guardians of the village

Tam-Awan is an Ifugao village created by an artist (BenCab) for artists and aficionados. The traditional layout and the dozen or so re-constructed huts made of original materials make for a replica of an Ifugao village that almost makes one feel as if being in an actual one in the Cordilleras . Tam-Awan has regular exhibits by artists in its very own art gallery. There are cultural shows which is held every weekend.

Workshops, livelihood and crafts demonstrations are also held there by the artists themselves. One that particularly caught the groups fancy was the sun artists – their  sun- burned art works use magnifying glasses with the help of sun rays .

sun arts

(the “canvas” needs to be one of the paler woods, like pine or fir . . . so etching lines will stand out by contrast),hold a three- to four-inch-diameter enlargin’ lens above your wood piece so that all the sun’s rays which pass through the glass disc get focused on one part of the  sketch. Before long, a faint trail of smoke will begin to rise . . . as the concentrated beams burn a smoldering “dent” in the wood block . The  pinpointed spot has been “carved”  . . . WOW an art made from sun rays!!!!

The garden in the sky is located at Pinsao Proper, just about 20 minutes drive from the Session Road. This cultural hub is home to many works of art from famous artists of Benguet. You can buy different cultural books, paintings in various mediums; rice and strawberry wines, native handicrafts and souvenir items for sale in village souvenir shop. Some of the huts are available for sleeping. You can even arrange for a bonfire, probably at the dap-ay (a traditional meeting place for the village elders)

The village also offers unique Ifugao accommodation by offering vernacular architecture and lifestyles  of the Cordilleras. It has coffee shop called Tam-awan Cafe which also serves as the tourist information office for visitors. Make sure to try out Tam-awan’s Benguet Coffee , Tam-Awan’s fresh ice tea made from organically grown leaves of mountain tea.  There is also an organic lunch package which may consists of upland rice , vegetable salad, adobo meat  ( But reservations must be made several days beforehand)

Tam-awan Village is managed and maintained by Chanum Foundation, Inc., – a non stock , non profit organization that aims to promote the sights, wonders  and culture  of the cordillera region.

A small entrance fee to the village include a short eco-tour. There are wild orchids, ferns which dotted the village. Try to ask discount for big groups.

For reservations and tours:

Address: 366 –C Pinsao Proper

2600 Baguio City

Telephone (074) 446-2949

Fax              (074)442-5553

King Louis Farm : King of Potted Plants & Cut Flower

Local cut flowers and potted plants were mostly grown in backyards of individual farmers and small garden hobbyists during the post war era of the late 1940’s to the mid 1960’s. For several decades, people had to rely on small-scale production to meet the market demands. There was always a short supply of flowers and potted plants during Valentine’s Day, All Saints Day, Graduation Rites and  Christmas season. The production methods and farm facilities among growers then seemed to be on an endless trial and error basis.

Then came Mr. Vicente Puyat with a private initiative in early 1983. He had several sprawling farms scattered across Baguio and Benguet areas with thousands of quality flowering potted plants in all assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. This was start of the King Louis Farm, and Mr. Puyat was known as the “King of potted plants and cut flowers” not only in Northern Luzon, but also across the country.

gerbera

His project started with an experimental pilot area of 4,000 square meters concentrating on producing different varieties of roses, carnations, gerbera, gypsophilla in Asin, Baguio. It was planned to have a modern production area with pioneering greenhouses producing quality-potted plants and cut flower intended for the local market.  These crops were successfully grown in the tropical highlands of Baguio, but the local folks of Baguio weren’t quite ready back then. King Louis Farm General Manager and President Mr. Efren Chatto recalls farmers were in search of an alternative business venture aside from vegetables, strawberries and seasonal souvenir merchandises.

King Louis – Manila Seedling Bank Foundation outlet

Through several years of experimenting, developing technology, skills training and acquiring new plant varieties, King Louis had finally grown to what it is today.  The company has over 50 active contract farmer-growers scattered in various locations and operates on more than 6 locations in Baguio, La Trinidad areas like in Lamtang, Longlong, Alapang, Atok, Bugias, Tuba with a combined production areas of more than 12 hectares of specialized flower varieties. The farms and company has a labor force of about 100-180 workers, depending on the season.

King Louis Farm -Lamtang plantation

“We assist them (contract growers) in constructing their greenhouses and provide them counter funds by networking them to cooperatives and federations which engage in cut flower production. We even had some bank assistance for the construction of their greenhouses and even installation of sprinkling systems,” said the very enthusiastic Mr. Chatto.

These farms are located in various elevation from 1,200 meters above sea level in the La Trinidad Valley to 2,000 meters above sea level in Atok .The company had recently acquired a property in the province of Bukidnon in the island of Mindanao where the mild weather is conducive for growing crops that the firm will eventually supply for the southern Philippines market.

In the early 90s, with its growing operations and number of wholesale consumers, King Louis Farm tried to venture and opened its retail outlets within the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation compound in 1998, then other retail outlets within Metro Manila had sprung up.  The company is very active in the floriculture and agriculture tourism events, since they were considered as pioneers in the “Panagbenga ” flower festival in Baguio every February and a regular participant in many gardening events and shows such as Agri-Aqua Network Incorporated, Kadayawan, Philippine Horticultural Society, Philippine Orchid Society, among others.

King Louis landscape booth in Horticulture 2009

The booth won 3rd prize in the landscape category

The company started also its luck in exporting cut flowers and cut foliage to Japan and Netherlands. “We had a hard time in meeting their standards of quality,” said Mr. Chatto. But they pursued because the country has distinct advantages to compete globally since the cost of production, low benchmark, competitive labor market plus the country is strategically located to those cut flower and foliage importing countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. With rising cost of fuel, labor and energy prices, it would be cheaper for these countries to import rather than to maintain an expensive production area. ” He explained.

The largest farm, which is devoted to rearing quality poinsettias, is simply exhilarating. Aside from the common red poinsettia, which most of us are familiar with, at King Louis there are three more exciting rare colors – white, pink and a combination of pink and red.  They also have other poinsettia varieties with crinkled flower bracts that are considered as novelty items.  The companies also have their own way of sorting and grading the poinsettias based on the size of the bracts. Poinsettias coded as B, C, and D command higher price. According to Mr. Chatto, this is done so that buyers are assured of uniform-sized plants. He stated the demand usually starts as early as October to December, the peak season for ornamental plants, when three to five large trucks go down to Manila everyday to deliver the plants.

King Louis Farm’s  mission and vision is to be a leading supplier of quality flowers and potted plants in the local market.  While the company motto is “The land is a God given gift, it is our responsibility to cultivate and preserve it.”  Quality and strategy is the name of the game. “Quality flowers come from quality planting materials,” he emphasized.

liliums- blooming sized potted plants

Visiting other countries in order to source new planting materials which could be grown, adapted and sold in the local market is very challenging some planting materials are imported from Netherlands, United States, Malaysia, Thailand and China because our country lacks the facilities for storing bulbs and seeds for a long time to maintain their quality and viability. In order to assure uniform and quality flowers throughout the seasons, old planting materials are discarded. Selecting a strategic place for growing cut flower is also a major consideration. “We try to locate our farms in areas which have a good gravity to ensure a stable water supply and irrigation. Irrigation may not be a problem during the rainy season but during summer, and we tend to rely on deep well which consumes a lot of energy and effort,” he explained. King Louis Farm is concentrating its production for the local market; the farm is also engaged in producing Calla lily bulbs, particularly the colored varieties for export to Holland.

A University of San Carlos in Cebu graduate of economics, and at one time bank manager, Mr. Chatto believes that the business enterprise had come a long way from its humble beginnings. At present, they are not only catering to the cut flower, potted plants of Metro Manila and several points in Luzon, but are also supplying big flower shops in Bacolod, Cebu , Iloilo, Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Davao City,  Samar  and Tacloban City in Leyte  For whatever  business strategies and success stories , the soft spoken Mr. Chatto is willing to share is vast experiences to both hobbyists and to those who wanted to venture in this kind of business in the future.

Currently the company also accepts flower arrangements and landscape jobs

For contact:

Mr. Efren Chatto –

President and General Manager of King Louis Flowers & Plants Inc. , email:efrenchatto@yahoo.com.ph
Farm address: Km.3 Asin Road Baguio City, landline (074)4226735/(074) 4226734

Manila Branches/Office
MSBF Compound EDSA cor Quezon Ave.
Tel: (02) 929-4110,929-4107, 4332-012
Telefax: (02) 929-4114, 9294105