Saturday, December 15, 2012

Museo ni Cipra

Someone recently asked me a question which I found rather amusing.

He asked me, "Dre, why do you take pictures?"

"Well I..." was the beginning of my reply but it never quite took off after that since I was lost for words. It made me think again, why do I really take pictures? Why do I enjoy it so much?

Who do I take pictures for? Do I take pictures to please other people? Do I do it to show them my know-how (what little it may be) of camera wizardry? Do I take pictures just for the sake of saying "Oh, I'm a photographer, I go to places you've never heard of before and take these really cool photos bruh. Check out mah blog brother-mayne".

Well the obvious answer is no.

I take pictures not for the sake of other people, I take pictures for me. I take pictures for myself and myself alone because it improves me.

Every time I take trusty old Ned (my camera's name) out for a spin I can literally feel myself growing.   My eyes become sharper, ever hunting for that unique perspective. My legs become sturdier as I take countless steps in search for an inspiring landscape. My wits become wiser as I cautiously tread my way through dimly lit streets to find an interesting subject; and most of all, I feel my entire being become better since I challenge myself to take photos that I can personally be proud of.

I will keep on taking photos for as long as I can because I simply enjoy it. Every new photo I take is another smile that I add to my face and I love it.

In my own humble opinion, I think Dra. Cipra Kamatoy gets the same kind of smile everytime she finishes a new painting.

Welcome to one of Laguna's best kept secret's... Ang Museo ni Cipra.

The Museo ni Cipra is probably the largest, if not the only, art museum located in Laguna. Nestled in the sleepy little town of Alaminos, Laguna, the Museo ni Cipra is a private compound composed of three buildings all housing the works of Dra. Cipra Kamatoy.

Cipra, as she is fondly called, is a energetic 86 year old dentist who has an amazing passion for her art. Although only spending one year in art school and finishing her schooling as a dentist, she still pursued her passion which was painting and installation art (if I'm not mistaken).

When I asked Cipra why she decided to put up her museum all the way out in Alaminos (which is as pleasantly provincial as provinces get) she told me that it all started with one of her clients having his teeth cleaned. He was captivated by all the art just loitering around her office.

He asked her, "Cipra, why are you being so selfish? Why don't you share your art with the world?"

Taken aback by this comment of her being 'selfish', Cipra decided to publicly share her art with the world (or the Philippines in that manner) and the Museo ni Cipra was born.

Dra. Cipra Kamatoy

I really don't know how to describe Cipra's style since I am not a qualified expert in the arts, but it simply amazes me. I've always been a fan of artists who use simple geometric patterns to bring out an image (example: Dan Matutina).

Aside from using geometric patterns, Cipra's use of colors is vivid and captivating. For me, her colors seemed so full of life and energy.

Cipra also has a interesting fascination with crucifixes. She has around 20-30 of them lying around the compound. When I asked her what sparked her fascination with these religious items, she herself didn't know. She says that she's never been intensely pious, but one day she had a dream of a crucifix and the moment that she woke up, she set out to give the ethereal image its physical form.

In case you're wondering how a nice 86 year old lady like Cipra gets all the sculpting and welding work done, she has her own personal metalurgist/welder on stand-by on the compound 24/7 who is always ready to bring Cipra's ideas to life.

This is a really interesting piece. It's a different artwork for 3 different perspectives. Her use of different sides of the metal ridges seen in the art piece presents the viewer with 3 crucifixes for left, right and center viewing.

She also does interior design. These sofas, chairs and tables are of her own design.

Pictured below is Cipra's own house (which was also of her design.) This is one of the the three buildings of the compound which is located right beside the museum. If you're nice enough, Cipra will let you inside and you and her can have a nice long chat about how she became what she is today.

Cipra's House

Located a few steps away from the compound is a masoleum which Cipra also designed. Don't worry, there are no coffins in there yet, but I can't help but make assumptions as to why she made it, but that's another story that Cipra has yet to tell.

All in all, we spent an interesting afternoon searching for Cipra's museum as well as getting inspired by the different artworks around the museum and Cipra herself. At 86 years old, Cipra shows no signs of slowing down. She paints everyday and she tells us that ideas just keep on popping up in her head. She says that she even has a hard time keeping track of every single idea she has, but as much as possible, she tries to flesh out her ideas through her art.

She's even planning to open up a bigger and grander museum in the nearby capital of San Pablo, Laguna which will open sometime next year. This, she says, will be her obra maestra and will be the culmination of her life's work.

As we made our way back to the car leaving promises that we would return, I couldn't help but notice a sparkle in Cipra's eyes. Probably another new idea just waiting to be created.

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For those interested in visiting Cipra, the museum is open everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM. There is an admission fee of 50 pesos for adults and 25 pesos for children.

Museo ni Cipra is located in the Acropolis South Subdivision, which is on the outskirts of Alaminos. The sign pictured below hangs just outside the gate of this subdivision. Upon entering, stop at the gates and tell the guard you are going to the Museo ni Cipra, he'll let you in and proceed to call upon the doctor herself. 

To get to the museum, take the SLEX going south of Manila and take the Batangas/Calambas Exit. From then proceed straight through the Pan-Philippine Highway. If you keep going straight, you'll eventually hit the little town of Alaminos. Keep going straight and keep a watchful eye out for the sign on the left side of the road that says 'Museo ni Cipra'. If you get lost, don't hesitate to ask the locals where 'Acropolis South Subdivision' is or where the 'Museo ni Cipra' is. They're usually very friendly and helpful.

Supporting blog posts about Museo ni Cipra can be found here: (No copyright infringement intended)


Bugsy said...

She IS amazing! You must take me there.

Bugsy said...

Eo, let's take a trip there someday with Tita Tata (remember my friend? She is also an artist and I think she will be equally amazed at what Cipra has done. Tita Tata has been inactive so I want to encourage her to do something like this.)

Regine Abby said...

beautiful post, sharing this, would love to go there someday :)

Andreo Bongco said...

You're welcome Regine. Thank you also for sharing :) If you're having problem with directions there, drop me a private message and I'll see if I can help out.