Museo Orlina, A Glass Act

 Taal Volcano in Tagaytay (Photo by Omar Paz)

Taal Volcano in Tagaytay (Photo by Omar Paz)

Tagaytay remains my all-time favorite travel destination in the Philippines. Nothing beats it for a quick getaway from Metro Manila to escape smog and gridlock. The scenic drive along Tagaytay ridge for that breathtaking view – Taal lake with the volcano crater at its core – never gets old. The higher elevation’s exhilarating breeze cooled us during our trip even if it was a hot summer day.

About an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila, it is ideal for a day of chilling in the countryside. You’ll have enough time to squeeze in two, three or more activities; the key is to arrive early and leave early (avoid the traffic jam after 4 p.m.).

There is plenty to choose from a must-do list when in Tagaytay. Hunt for unusual bric-a-bracs at the local handicraft shops. Haggle at the roadside stands teeming with farm-fresh produce and plants. Stop for a hearty, down-home lunch at Alfonso’s. Or have gourmet brunch at Antonio’s and take in the scenery over a cup of Batangas barako (robust) coffee. Or try Mediterranean at the new Marcia Adam’s. Or go New Age-y at Sonia’s Garden with an all-veggie meal and massage therapy at the spa. Stop at Rowena’s on the way out for pastillas de leche (candied milk) or ube (purple yam) to take back home.

Now there is another reason to visit Tagaytay (as if you need one more).

Museo Orlina

The Museo Orlina opened its doors in 2014 at Ramon Orlina’s former residence crested above Taal Lake. It is Tagaytay’s answer to Baguio’s Bencab Museum. The modern, three-storey building has been successfully transformed into an art museum. Each floor entirely serves as exhibit area bathed in natural light from the wall-to-wall windows facing the lake, perfect for illuminating Orlina’s prismatic sculpted glass art pieces.

Ramon Orlina, who hails from Taal town, is the Philippines’ internationally acclaimed sculptor who works primarily with glass. He pioneered the practice of carving solid slabs of glass – as opposed to the usual techniques of hand-blowing and casting from a mold. I had only read about him in Filipinas Magazine years ago, I jumped at this chance to finally see his work in person, under one roof.

 Museo Orlina in Tagaytay features art exhibits on three floors and outdoor garden. (Photo by Omar Paz)

Museo Orlina in Tagaytay features art exhibits on three floors and outdoor garden. (Photo by Omar Paz)

For a small entrance fee ($2), we explored the museum with a staff member showing us around. On the first floor, tinted glass doors designed by Orlina himself (he is a trained architect and a self-taught artist) welcome guests to his signature art – iridescent, gem-like, monochromatic colored glass sculpted into faceted abstract or figurative pieces.

 Ramon Orlina’s distinctive signature glass pieces are complemented with paintings and sculptures by other well known names along with emerging contemporary artists. (Photo by Omar Paz)

Ramon Orlina’s distinctive signature glass pieces are complemented with paintings and sculptures by other well known names along with emerging contemporary artists. (Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

Interspersed with his work, paintings and sculptures by other artists like Sanso, Borlongan and Bencab are on display. The changing exhibits flow to the upper levels, among them an egg-shaped wire-meshed chair and a black white contrasting pair of seated nude-shaped chairs.  

A chandelier with glass-leafed steel branches permanently hangs above the stairwell. A gallery section is devoted to photographs, sketches and miniatures of Orlina’s various installations and commissions in the country and abroad, spanning three decades.

Displayed on the third floor are miniature studies for Quattro Mondial Monument, Orlina’s tribute to his alma mater (University of Santo Tomas) on its quadricentennial celebration in 2011.    

The gallery on the lower ground level displays more paintings by emerging artists. A glass door leads to the Sculpture Garden exhibiting oversized pieces done in various media by Orlina and his contemporaries like Baldemor and Bencab

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

 (Photo by Omar Paz)

(Photo by Omar Paz)

The rooftop has a coffee shop (unfortunately closed that day) and a deck with a view of Taal lake and volcano amid a sunny blue sky – as luminous as the glass sculptures on display at Museo Orlina.

Museum hours are from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. For directions and ongoing exhibits, go to www.museo-orlina.org.

 

In the original posting of this article, Ramon Orlina was mistakenly identified as Manuel Orlina. The author regrets the error.


 Omar Paz

Omar Paz

Omar Paz, a San Francisco Bay Area graphic designer and former art director at Filipinas Magazine, is happiest when traveling in the Philippines which never ceases to amaze him with new discoveries and places to visit.


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