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Police pursuing leads on Amorsolo painting heist, reward offered

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN / CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Police probers are now pursuing some leads on the suspects behind the stealing of an 88-year old painting of national artist Fernando Amorsolo from a museum at Cinco de Noviembre Street in Silay City,Negros Occidental.

The1936 painting of Amorsolo with the title “Mango Harvester” is owned by the Hofileña family. It is reported to be valued in the millions of pesos.

In a Facebook post, the Silay Heritage Foundation issued an appeal for help in the recovery of the prized collections of the Hofileña Museum.

PLt. Col. Mark Anthony Darroca, Silay City police chief, disclosed that they already have two persons of interest, who were seen on the CCTV footage stealing the Amorsolo painting from the second floor of Hofileña family private museum.

Mayor Joedith Gallego disclosed that the Silay City government is offering a P25,000 cash reward for anyone who may provide information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects and the recovery of the stolen painting.

While the authorities have already some leads in their investigation, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said it is not best to talk about it publicly. He did not elaborate further.

Initial police investigations further showed that the two suspects joined a group of six guests during a 15-minute tour at the private museum on July 3.

The suspects logged fictitious names in the guest logbook.

It was learned by the police that only a tour guide was on duty when the incident took place.

The names of guests at the private museum were already submitted to the police for further investigation.

The stolen painting, with a measurement of 12 x 18 inches, was among the collections of the late Ramon Hofileña, a famous art curator in Negros Occidental.

Darroca said he is also coordinating with the Bacolod City Police Office to track down the suspects.

On the other hand, Gallego said he will augment the city’s museums with Silay City Hall employees to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.

He also considered it as an “isolated case”, as he hopes the stolen painting will soon be recovered.

The Hofileña museum also contains a collection of paintings and sketches by national artists Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, Ang Kiukok, Vicente Manansala, H.R. Ocampo, and BenCab.

COMMUNITY REACTS

Silay Vice Mayor Thomas J. Ledesma also pushed for the investigation into the theft.

“This unfortunate incident will surely have a huge impact on the City of Silay because this house is under our Heritage Area Zone. This needs to be investigated thoroughly and we in the local government of Silay will see to it that we get to the bottom of this incident so as to prevent it from happening to any of our local museums,” he said.

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

Meanwhile, the president of the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros is appealing for the cooperation of the community to unite in efforts to return the Fernando Amorsolo’s Artwork to the Hofileña Heritage House and Museum.

“It is with deep concern and resolve that we address the recent theft of a significant piece of Philippine art history from the Hofileña Heritage House and Museum in Silay City — Fernando Amorsolo’s ‘Mango Harvesters’ (1936),” AABN president Ihvonie “Tey” Sevilleno said in a statement.

As guardians of our cultural heritage, we urgently appeal to our community to unite in efforts to return this invaluable artwork to its rightful home,” she said.

In Negros, we have had the privilege of witnessing Amorsolo’s masterpiece alongside other treasures by Filipino masters, thanks to the generosity of Sir Ramon Hofileña and his family. Their commitment to sharing these national treasures has inspired countless artists and art lovers alike. 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.

“We implore all members of our community, from artists to art lovers, to join us in our plea for the safe return of ‘Mango Harvesters’ to Silay and Negros. Let us stand together in safeguarding our cultural legacy and ensuring that these precious artworks continue to inspire and educate for generations to come.”

Those who may have information about the missing Amorsolo painting may call the Silay City Police Station at 09985987443 or 09989674432.*

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