A museum in Iloilo is so popular among students that whenever classes are suspended, the staff must brace for an instant mob.
Located within the Megaworld complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, The Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA) opened in 2018 and is the first museum in the Visayas and Mindanao dedicated to modern art. It was born out of a partnership between Megaworld Foundation and the Ilonggo art collector Edwin Valencia.
The museum is getting a lot of foot traffic, thanks to its strategic location, the dynamic display that makes for an interesting selfie or prenup photo background, and the overall vibe that allows spectators the freedom to appreciate artistic expressions of all forms.
And while the destination is pure heaven for art lovers, the open space and the peaceful creative energy encourage quiet mindfulness, which is not possible in busy malls. It is not surprising, therefore, that even young students have included the museum in their regular go-to list.
The ground floor Hulot exhibit features local and international artists. Hulot which is Hiligaynon for “room” or “space” also serves as a commercial space for artists who wish to showcase their works.
The themed exhibits are held at the Gallery, located on the second floor. An adjacent gallery houses traditional and contemporary sculpture which includes the works of Ramon Orlina, a miniature version of Michael Cacnios lift sculpture, and many other noted works.
The third floor houses the Adoracion Valencia Gallery, named after the mother of Edwin Valencia, the museum’s primary patron. ILOMOCA is a partnership between Megaworld Foundation and the Ilonggo art collector Edwin Valencia.
Adoracion Valencia was a Humanities professor and aside from passionately imparting her love for the arts to her students, she made sure her children shared her deep appreciation for all forms of creative expression. And while she succeeded in nurturing the interest of her children, it was Edwin, an international banking and finance professional, who went on and built an extensive collection.
The massive collection began in the ‘80s, while Edwin was working in New York. Back then he envisioned a museum that he can share with the Ilonggo art community. His dream saw fruition when he met with Megaworld in 2014. After four years, the museum officially opened its doors, enriching the Iloilo art scene with exhibits and outreach programs.
ILOMOCA’s biggest surprise is in Gallery 2. On view the actual prints by international artists Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, and Joan Miro. A favorite trick played by organizers of tour groups involves bringing the visitors to the gallery without saying a word about the masterworks.
“I love seeing the look on the face of visitors when they realize that they are looking at an actual work by Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali,” remarked Iloilo City Tourism Officer King Erlano.
Museum Director Maricel Montero is amazed at the young crowd who frequent ILOMOCA. “Sometimes we have to turn away walk-in visitors, especially if we are expecting a big group,” she said.
Students love to enter the museum, mainly because it provides a colorful backdrop for social media posts. And while it has yet to lead to an appreciation, the museum director believes it’s a good starting point.
“It can be disconcerting at times, but once they are inside the museum, we can create prompts for them to think and reflect on the artwork,” she added.
According to the City and Development Tourism office, Iloilo City has a total of 13 active galleries and museums. Not to be outdone are the colorful murals on public walls and bridges along the famous Iloilo Esplanade. The culture and arts scene is exceptionally vibrant in the province.
Aside from visual arts, the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art has a theater facility called The Box, for screenings, performances, theatre productions, workshops, and other cultural events.