Photos courtesy of Sen Rafael and

ILOILO’S arts scene is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with Ilonggo talents making waves in the national and international scene.

But the most visible and palpable proof of this resurgence is the sprouting of art galleries and museum which bridges the artists to the community.

One of the biggest contributors to the burgeoning Iloilo arts community is businessman Arsenio “Sen” Rafael III, who opened the newest art gallery in Iloilo City – GALERIE DE ARSIE – located at Sen & Sons Building Nine in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

Present in the opening last Sept 16, 2017  were 150 Ilonggo artists and dozens of collectors and art lovers led by Museo Iloilo chairman of the board Gina Sarabia-Espinosa, Mario Yang, Dr. Elvie Gonzales, Dr. Bambi Manila, Dr. Val Villareal, and Vicente Villareal.

Leading the ribbon-cutting rite were Rock Drilon, Allain Hablo, Arel Zambarrano, Ed Defensor and Sen Rafael himself.

Momo Dalisay, PG Zoluaga, Joon Claudio and company filled the air with Ilonggo music which jived well with the historic event.

Sen Rafael said more credit should be given to Rock Drilon for sowing the seeds of the explosion of arts in Iloilo.

“The Iloilo art scene is flourishing. Rock Drilon is instrumental in all of this,” he said.

Rock Drilon returned the favor to Sen Rafael saying “Sen Rafael is truly a champion in supporting world class local art and artists in Western Visayas.”

GALERIE DE ARSIE features artworks of all mediums Sen Rafael has collected in a span of 12 months.

Aside from the works of Rock Drilon, Ed Defensor, PG Zoluaga, Allain Hablo, Cezar Arro, Arel Zambarrano and scores of Ilonggo artists, the gallery also includes paintings of National Artists Vicente Manansala, Jose Joya and Arturo Luz plus that of Emmanuel Garibay, Andres Barrioquinto, Nena Saguil, and Peewee Roldan.

Jay Pasaporte is the curator of GALERIE DE ARSIE.



There is much to celebrate when we talk of Iloilo arts.

Iloilo is now host to 13 galleries and alternative art spaces (said to be the most in Visayas and Mindanao) plus one big museum coming up – the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art of Megaworld showcasing the collections of Ilonggo artist Edwin Valencia.

Also in the lead of this resurgence is Viva Excon Organization President Allain Hablo and Hubon Ilonggo (umbrella of all art groups in the province) led by Architect Arel Zambarrano and Himbon Kontemporaryo led by Ed Defensor.

John Cabanalan, another Ilonggo artist, recently won the Grand Prize of the 2017 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) painting category, which is another reason for celebration.

The vibrant Iloilo art community today – aside from the varied outputs, the opening of galleries and museums and quarterly publication of the Iloilo Gallery Guide, the formation of art groups, the increasing private patronage as well as the generous media support – is also seeing the emergence of art writers.



In his talk during the opening, Sen Rafael quoted the legendary Edgar Degas: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Degas words “infected” Sen Rafael the moment he began collecting art pieces.

I started with my collection in September 2016. I thought of buying 5 to 7 paintings for our conference room. Because of your abilities, the 5 became 350. Thus GALERIE DE ARSIE was born,” he said.

This early, Sen Rafael is already thinking of GALERIE DE ARSIE’S future and its role in promoting Ilonggo arts.

“Jay (Pasaporte) and I are thinking of its future. Where? What? How can we help you? It could be a regular gallery or it might become like Pinto Art Museum, even just 10 percent of it. Or it could end up like Balay Segundo Museum by Joel Butuyan of Isabela. We’re not sure yet,” he added.

“But one thing is for sure: I am thankful for your artworks. I forget my problems, I get relaxed. They gave me peace. They gave me love and passion which I can enjoy with age. Thank you to all of you.”

Sen Rafael quoted Vincent Van Gogh in his message to Ilonggo artists:

“I am seeking.  I am striving.  I am in it with all my heart. To all the artists, my friends, keep on looking, keep on working, keep on painting. Work with all your heart.”

Leave a Reply