INSPIRING efforts by the Iloilo Business Park (IBP) are setting the foundation for Iloilo City’s vibrant art community to be recognized internationally, putting it on the international map as an emerging creative multicultural destination.
“It has always been our goal to integrate arts, culture, history and heritage in the overall character of our developments,” said Kevin L. Tan, Alliance Global Chief Executive Officer and Megaworld Chief Strategy Officer, during the launch of Chinatown Museum inside the Lucky Chinatown property – in Binondo, Manila – just this June.
Chinatown Museum follows in the footsteps of the developer’s Iloilo Museum for Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), the first museum of its kind outside Luzon, inside the Iloilo Business Park township – where in the span of a year Megaworld has already begun realizing Tan’s worth-while vision.
First inaugurated in March 17, 2018, the P109-million ILOMOCA – which includes three floors, five exhibit halls, and 3,000 square feet in exhibition space – has opened the floodgates for IBP to become a rising art district in its own right, a dynamic venue for all disciplines and mediums of the arts: from music, to theater, to visual art, and even literary ventures.
Only on its first year in this thriving city, ILOMOCA has already proven itself a vital and eclectic stage for the local Ilonggo art community – injecting some newfound vigor into this already burgeoning cultural scene. Touted as Iloilo’s new central business district, the bustling township has gradually revealed itself as an unlikely new playground for artists in Western Visayas as well.
With rolling exhibits from both internationally renowned artists and budding Ilonggo talents, the IBP shows no signs of slowing down in its initiative to lift and champion Iloilo as an exciting hub of world-class virtuosity and creativity.
MONTH-LONG CELEBRATION OF ILONGGO ART
August promises to be an eventful four weeks for ILOMOCA. The month-long Iloilo Charter Day doubles as a celebration of Ilonggo art, with a series of exhibits, workshops and concerts set to lend color and life to the busy township.
Back-to-back from the start of the month to the end of August are Life Drawing sessions, a Digital Drawing training, and Watercolor Painting classes at ILOMOCA’s The Box. The life drawing events feature live models artists can sketch to practice and hone their craft. Meanwhile the digital training on August 10 is set to be helmed by manga artist and illustrator Goldberg Villanueva.
Wilfredo Calderon’s watercolor painting classes coincides with the run of his newest solo show “Nostalgia,” on exhibit this month at the Mamusa Art Gallery, just beside ILOMOCA. Calderon is famed for his evocative cityscapes and rich rural sceneries, often culled from his own memories of travels here and abroad.
From Aug. 21 to 24, ILOMOCA’s halls will be filled with song, with the first Jovita Fuentes and Jose Contreras Music Institute set to present a series of recitals and concertos, in cooperation with the University of San Agustin. With the theme “Linking the Art of German lied and Filipino Kundiman,” among the esteemed performers are Grammy Award winning baritone Kevin McMillan, prima donna Camille Lopez Molina, pianists Clement Acevedo and Oliver Salonga, and the USA Conservatory of Music.
The celebration culminates on Aug. 25, Iloilo Charter Day, when the entrance fee to the ILOMOCA will be waived for Ilonggos, allowing locals to marvel at the museum’s storied collection free of charge.
ARTIST SUCCESS STORIES IN IBP
In late June 2019, 52-year-old artist Larry Casinao went viral as “lolo artist” after photos of him painting and displaying his artwork on a corner street near Jaro Plaza – a major thoroughfare in the city – were shared on social media by an Ilonggo student.
Casinao has made a living from selling his art for 25 years now, struggling to make ends meet given the twice-weekly dialysis sessions of his wife who is suffering from a failing kidney.
The viral post has enabled many benevolent people to reach out to Casinao, among them Festive Walk Mall Iloilo.
“Lolo Larry” now displays his pieces at the ground floor of Festive Walk Mall Iloilo, inside the IBP – the mall’s management saying the initiative is their own way of giving back as they celebrate their first anniversary in the city.
“My hope was just that if I displayed my artworks at Jaro Plaza, with every 50 people who passed by and saw them, there would be at least one person who would stop and consider buying my paintings,” Casinao told Panay News in Hiligaynon.
“I never thought my story would touch so many people and lead to so many blessings and opened doors,” he continued. “I’m grateful to Festive Walk Mall Iloilo for providing me a proper venue for my artwork.”
ILOMOCA and IBP have shown willingness to invest in young and raw Ilonggo artistry. After hosting stalwart Negrense painter Nunelucio Alvarado and Jeho Bitancor of Cultural Center of the Philippines – Thirteen Artist Awards fame in its Hulot Space, the gallery has given emerging local artists the opportunity to also take the stage.
With “Caught in the Crossfire” early this year, ILOMOCA broke its series of solo shows by established artists to cede space to 13 young and gifted Ilonggos who are beginning to build their own names in the art community.
In March, Megaworld Foundation in partnership with Metrobank Foundation, Inc., mounted “Art MADE Public: Icons MADE,” showcasing the winning works of six Ilonggo Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) awardees. It doubled as a homecoming of sorts for the awarded works of 2018 MADE grand champions Ilonggo painters Noel Elicana and Alex Ordoryo, marking the first time these winning masterpieces were up for public exhibit outside of Metro Manila.
Just this late May to early June, Festive Walk Mall played host to “Arts Explosion,” Iloilo’s first-ever week-long arts festival, a celebration of the spirited local art scene. Early this year, ILOMOCA also hosted the Iloilo Theater Festival.
“We are honored to help promising Filipino artists showcase their masterpieces here in ILOMOCA as a way of supporting them and putting the spotlight onto their craft,” said Tefel Pesigan-Valentino, vice president for Business Development and Marketing, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, in a message.
“Art and culture play very significant roles in the continued development of our townships, and it is through exhibits like this that we are able to continue inspiring more people to embrace our brand of artistry and creativity,” she concluded./PN