September 23, 2023

“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” — Robert Schumann
Every morning is a new start; the end of the day is a call to rest. From his farm and museum outside Baguio City, National Artist Benedicto Cabrera has been sharing pictures of the sky captured from his special viewpoint. It is a captivating visual diary of days spent in solitude and introspection. “Watching the sky has been most refreshing. The changing colors, the light and shadows are never the same. During this time of uncertainty and solitude, watching the sky is an encouragement to hope and continue to dream.”
The BenCab Museum has been in operation for more than 12 years now, and is a place to appreciate the works of the artist, as well as his collection of works by other artists and an extensive display of Cordillera artifacts that he started to collect even before moving to the City of Pines.
Standing in the highest part of the property, the museum is surrounded by gardens, vegetable farms, flowers, a duck pond, waterfalls, and indigenous trees all the way up the hill on the eastern end of the farm located six kilometers outside the city. “I have always loved planting trees and tending gardens. I had fruit trees in the yard of my London home in the ‘70s that my growing children enjoyed. Here in Tuba, I have Igorot farmers and gardeners who take care of the farm. We also grow and roast our own coffee, which is served in Café Sabel; as well as vegetables, herbs and tiny vine tomatoes that my chef friends love.”
The glow of the rising sun in the east every morning is splendid. The view to the West Philippine Sea at dusk is an inspiration as well, with indigo, orange, pink hues reflected in the clouds. The unimpeded skyline is perfect for full moon nights, and other celestial sights.
BenCab’s friend, photographer Wig Tysmans appreciates the daily views. “Awesome photos of the sky’s fleeting moments. I love it specially when he captures the colors of dawn and twilight, when the crimson and indigo blues are so vivid.”
The Skywatcher images bring solace to the artist’s friends around the world. His camera is a window to the beauty of nature. Another friend, the gallery owner Remigio David notes: “BenCab produces really amazing contrast with the mountain as backdrop and the trees against some intensely blue or grey skies. He instinctively knows how to pay attention to the white balance. His compositions taken during the golden hour or blue hour are enchantingly magical oftentimes exhibiting the cloud’s fine detail. I have seen some of the rarest and stunning cloud formations such as the lenticular clouds mostly hovering over the mountains.”
At this difficult time, BenCab’s posts have brought hope to many people: daily doses of beauty and encouragement. With his eyes and camera, he has mastered a wonderful alchemy that turns the quotidian into magnificent treats.
Skywatcher will be on view until Jan. 30 at the BenCab Museum’s Gallery Sepia. (VINA TANDOC)