Negros art community unites to recover stolen Amorsolo painting

The Hofileña ancestral house, where the Mango Harvesters (1936) painting of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo was stolen in Silay City, Negros Occidental, on July 3. (Photo courtesy of Ihvonie “Tey” Sevilleno)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY – The Art Association of Bacolod-Negros is urgently appealing to the art community in Negros Occidental to unite in efforts to recover the stolen painting of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo from the Hofileña Museum in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

“We implore all members of our community, from artists to art lovers, to join us in plea for the safe return of the Mango Harvesters (1936) painting to Silay and Negros,” said Ihvonie “Tey” Sevilleno, president of the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros, in a statement sent to Daily Guardian.

Sevilleno expressed deep concern and resolve to address the recent theft of a significant piece of Philippine art history from the private museum.

“The recent theft has not only shocked and angered us but has also deprived future generations of the opportunity to experience and draw inspiration from these works firsthand,” Sevilleno said.

Sevilleno said they had the privilege of witnessing Amorsolo’s masterpiece in Negros, alongside other treasures by Filipino masters through the generosity of the Hofileña family.

“Their commitment to sharing these national treasures has inspired countless artists and art lovers alike,” she added.

“Let us stand together in safeguarding our cultural legacy and ensuring that these precious artworks continue to inspire and educate for generations to come,” she said.

The 88-year-old oil painting, situated on the second floor of the museum, which is also an ancestral house of the Hofileña family, was stolen by two persons who pretended to be tourists on Wednesday morning, July 3.

Sevilleno said that stealing an artwork is nothing new in the art world.

“But because it happened here in Negros, it really hits home for us,” she added.

She considered this a wake-up call for the government to partner and work with cultural institutions to ensure the safety and security of Filipino fine art treasures.

She emphasized the need for local museums to receive assistance from professional systems to continue exhibiting their collections.

Based on the recent investigation by the police, one of the two suspects was identified through a pedicab driver who transported them to the city public plaza, where they rode a passenger jeepney to this city after committing the offense.

Police said that the identity of one of the suspects would be revealed to the public once the case is filed.

Mayor Joedith Gallego has earlier offered a cash reward of PHP 25,000 for any information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects and recovery of the stolen artwork.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Thomas Ledesma, in a statement, said that this unfortunate incident will have a significant impact on the City of Silay because this house is within the Heritage Area Zone.

“Silay has been known for the conservation of culture, arts, and heritage, and it certainly hurts us when mindless individuals commit this crime,” Ledesma said, adding that it is an insult to the dedication of local artist Ramon Hofileña, who personally collected art from Filipino renowned art masters to share with his fellow Silaynons and Negrenses.

“That is why this has become personal to us,” he stressed.

Ledesma said that it needs to be investigated thoroughly, and assured that the local government of Silay will see to it that they get to the bottom of this incident to prevent this from happening to any of their local museums.

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