072512 The Urban Tracker (In Baguio): A Pot of Bencab Art By Asin End Path

Baguio's treasure trove
he Bencab Museum was out of my agenda list that morning. My initial thoughts were hunting  those elusive Igorot souvenirs which  I heard cheaper and authentic somewhere along Asin Rd. 

My curiosity took me to the doorstep of this Baguio's treasure threshold. Exploring the insides of this intriguing artdom towering in the middle of mountains was a relief from the earlier grueling walk.

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The stairway to Lourdes Grotto
My trek started ascending from the stairs at Queen of Peace with  a short cut route to Upper Bokawkan going to Naguilian Road traversing the part of Bgy, Lourdes. Once I spotted the stairs, I knew already its the Lourdes Grotto.  The fogs were smokin' cold this morning thus I dismissed my plan to climb the flight of stairs due to slippery surface from unstoppable rains so instead I took a brief respite in front of San Carlos chapels on the part of San Vicente.

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San Carlos chapels in San Vicente
The rector in full uniform greeted me with a blessing as I came about the vicinity. The mosaic facade of the church was wooing me to get inside it but something about it made me stand for a while and drooled on its awe for the passing of moment. By the time the rain  stopped, the paths now cleared to move on to kick off my Asin road run. But that happened after doing segue way shopping in the nearby Puregold San Luis. The rains could be friendly at times.

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Bgy San Luis, The cleanest and greenest barangay in Baguio City and I vouched for that.
When I saw this sunflower sign - an attribution to Bgy. San Luis, the downhill path before me marked the first leg of walk to Km 1 Asin Road . The hike started off in a curvy fashion  along with other street peddlers like an old resilient ice drop vendor folk that I was following. He seemed to know where his path led him though unlike me.

The resilience of ice drop vendor
His resilience unmistakable knowing that he was vending a cold product in this cold beaten environment. But anyway a local told me Km 6 was still a long way to go with repeated post signs leading to Bencab museum turning up. By the time I reached Km 3, the road was becoming elevated and fogs started blanketing my path. Crossing the bridge led from one mountain or sitio to another.

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Stone boulders are patrols along Asin Rd.
There's a stream below the cliff that's whirring on the silence of this village. An ill feeling was incensing me like a scene from a Silent Hill movie. My wet foot was getting stiff from the sudden change of wind pressure. Creepy rock formations were becoming pronounced on my uphill scale. Those stone boulders acted like patrols blocking the sky as majestic mountainous sight revealed all over by the time I invaded Km 4.

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Unpainted buddhas line up along Km 4 Asin Rd.
Then the inevitable attack happened. The fogs engulfed and caught me unprepared. I ran for cover immediately in the sidewalk to avoid the cold rush but still it's a struggle to reach Km 5 as the roads came clear again. This time I saw the small workshops, or was it ghost shops with either a sleeping attendant or none at all. I arrived in the wooden carving realm when the raw unpainted wooden buddhas appeared on my sight.

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Waking up a sleeping attendant when you wanna buy a staff is normal in Asin
With no time to lose, I shopped for some little souvenirs with observably has the best assortment as the shops also served as workshops by the carvers of the neighborhood. From home decors,kitchen utensils, musical instruments, accessories; they all have it here.  Hop from one shop to another ro find that cheaper price and the quality here is undeniably more authentic and excellent.  And for the final leg with the rains finally subsiding, it's time to pay homage to Baguio's art haven - the BenCab Museum.

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At last, the entrance to the artdom
A modern contemporary designed structure on the entrance makes anyone rethink of its advanced architectural disposition as if  thrown into a another world. After paying 100 entrance, I hearthed into a 3 level art confinement. The studio attendant allowed me to take pictures of the works inside. Each level has an art section for certain subject Bencab so passionate about. There's wall decors, deco arts, sculptures - each piece consummated with an obvious indulgence between passion, art, eroticism so unique, rich, bold, captivating and amazing.

The Bencab brew
The museum spiralled down to a resort at a back which has a relaxing view of the mountain view of Tuba plus a resort pool. An attendent served me a fresh brewed signature Bencab coffee in the relaxing cafeteria surrounded by Bencab's memorabilia. There's stirring and absorbing inside  from  digesting the artworks and examining the magnitude of passion applied. From room to another, its a telling of a strong cultural message and history that wells within its interiors. I might have been chased by fogs in Asin Road earlier but  there's a pot of treasure in the end of  the rainbow. The art of Bencab and it's yielding magic.


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