There's a sight sure to capture the attention of anyone passing through Megaworld Avenue, the central street of Iloilo Business Park—local real estate giant Megaworld's project. It easily commands respect, standing three stories and facing a plaza that features a bronze statue of Iloilo's first governor Martin Delagdo straddled on a horse. The entire building is called Casa de Emperador, another apt label as the familiar brand of brandy is yet another sister company of Megaworld. Colored in cream and against the vastness of the sky, the building sits on a strategic location for a reason. It houses the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA).
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Unveiled last March, ILOMOCA is the first museum in the VisMin region housing modern and contemporary art. It spans 3,000 square meters, comprising five exhibition rooms, a theater chamber, and the requisite souvenir shop. While Megaworld has dedicated most of its 72 hectares in the area to mostly residential and commercial use, ILOMOCA is there to serve as "a venue for the formation of social ideas."
Iloilo, after all, following its history as a port of foreign trade, found early exposure in the arts. By the tail end of the 19th century, the province found itself a thriving bastion of learning and civilization in the Visayas. Iloilo's main road Real Street flourished a la Escolta in Manila; the Iloilo Science and Technology University (formerly known as the School of Arts and Trades) rose to hone aspiring scientists and artisans; the city, where the urban but unpolluted Iloilo River flows in peace, grew to be a "nymph of galvanized iron, a modern creation, poetic in spite its iron uniform," as Jose Rizal would illustrate in that period.
Next to hosting the longest-running Visayas-centric biennale Visayan Islands Visual Arts Exhibit Conference in 2016, Iloilo reignites this art renaissance in the region through ILOMOCA and its exhibition spaces. Welcoming visitors at the ground floor is Hulot (Hilagaynon for "room" or "space"), built for works of local and international artists alike. The Gallery at the second floor features changing exhibits of various themes, with the inaugural ones presently displaying those of the late National Artist Abdulmari Imao, BenCab, Daniel dela Cruz, Arturo Luz, Ramon Orlina, Ferdinand Cacnio, Brenda Fajardo, Juvenal Sanso, Geraldine Javier, Ronald Ventura, and Leeroy New among others. The Adoracion Valencia Gallery, meanwhile, houses the works of the museum's "primary patron" Edwin Valencia.
Curious to see what's inside ILOMOCA? Peek at it by swiping through our gallery!
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Photographs courtesy of Megaworld