Iza Calzado Poses as Sabel for BenCab

Iza Calzado Poses as Sabel for BenCab


BenCab’s Sabel is one of Philippine art’s most iconic women. She has figured prominently in Benedicto Cabrera’s work since the 70’s, and many of her portraits can be seen in the BenCab Museum in Baguio. The painter, who was declared as a National Artist and was called the best-selling painter of his generation of Filipino artists, first met the inspiration of Sabel in the 60’s. According to the artist, Sabel was a homeless and deranged woman he saw in Bambang in Manila. He said, “I thought she made a terrific subject visually… She used to gather these plastic sheets and wrap them around her body. They made the most beautiful abstract shapes.” Now, works featuring Sabel have a years-long waiting list.

He also said of Sabel:


Every time I make a transition into something new, I work on her,” he explained. “I like the form, the movement. Now it’s almost become an abstract form, just an interpretation, a vague memory. This bag lady is almost a brand. I don’t think people realize who the figure is. They look at the movement, the color, the form and lines.


Actress Iza Calzado takes on the daunting task of posing for BenCab as the legendary Sabel, in preparation for her role as the bag lady in a play this April called Ang Sabel (Love and Passion). Iza posed for the artist wearing only a flimsy white cloth and a plastic sheet. She said:


I never thought this would actually happen in this lifetime! I have dreamt about this and now it has come true! Thank you Lord! And thank you BenCab.


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