Skip to main content

Planta, From Ice Plant to Art Space

There's a burgeoning art scene in Roxas City. Following the successful run of the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (Viva Excon) Biennale in November 2018 led by Black Artists Asia, the seafood capital is welcoming a new outdoor art space in the heart of the city. 

Planta is just across the river from the cluster of cultural heritage structures of Roxas City. It recently hosted Primero, an arts and crafts fair which formally introduced the murals painted by the group, Vinyl on Vinyl (VOV) of Manila with the help of fourteen local artists hand picked by Lloyd Develos. This project is the gift of Atty. Blas Viterbo who owns Planta, a former power station and ice plant, to his hometown.

The first mural (above) is of a hand lifting the curtain to reveal a wider perspective of what Capiz has to offer. Alternatively, it may represent how artists from neighboring towns perceive Capiz from an artistic point of view. A monitor lizard has planted itself on the hand of Dr. Maritess Viterbo, the wife of the owner. It symbolizes resurrection, fortune and divine wisdom. The patterns of its skin can be found in the woven textiles of the indigenous people of Capiz.
Carabaos are the workhorses of the Filipino farmers. There are three carabaos in the mural symbolizing a nationalistic vision of a united group of farmers and laborers. It also represents the 3 main island groups of the Philippines - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. (Check second to last image below showing the three carabaos together.) Farming is one of two core industries in Capiz.

The carabaos and the fisherman were painted by Archie Oclos, a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines 13 Artists Awards for 2018 and the Ateneo Art Awards Grand Prize. Oclos' works tackle socio-political issues, particularly the plight of the indigenous people and farmers.

The portrait of Jenny Santi (the author of The Giving Way to Happiness) is at the center of this 361 ft. long by 15 ft. high mural. She reminds me of the Filipina woman immortalized by Fernando Amorsolo.

Caught napping isn't a bad thing. Temperatures in Capiz climb past a hundred Fahrenheit on most days in the summer and extend through September. 

Butterflies signify metamorphosis and evolution while books embody knowledge and information that is freely shared. 

Dr. George Viterbo, the father of Atty. Viterbo, is shown here holding a blue orb which illuminates shared knowledge and wisdom. Behind the doctor is the Capiz Evangelical Church which was established by American missionaries. It stands as the symbol of the close affinity of Milagros Viterbo, the matriarch of the family, with the Baptist Church. 

While Dr. George Viterbo had every opportunity to practice medicine abroad, he chose to stay and serve the people of Capiz. He often extended his services for free to the disadvantaged patients who came to him for help. He is depicted here as the Rebel Doctor.

The artist is drowned by the enormity of these horses. Yet they would not have emerged from the blank wall without him.

The four horses represent the four sons of Atty. Viterbo and Dr. Maritess Viterbo. 

Fishing is one of two important industries in Capiz. Roxas City is the capital of the province of Capiz and the seafood capital of the Philippines.

The seven fishes in the fisherman's net allude to the 7 artists from Manila, Boracay and Cebu while the fourteen fishes swimming in the waters below represent the local artists. They worked together as a team to complete the murals and shell mosaic in under a month.

This abstract mural explores the historical and contemporary facets of Roxas City and perhaps its future. The unfamiliar script painted in white across this colorful wall spells Capiz in Baybayin, a pre-colonial indigenous script used in the islands until it was replaced by the Latin alphabet.

The artist is hard at work on the mural as the hand of Atty. Blas Viterbo keeps the curtain open for everyone to enjoy this unique gift to the people of Capiz. This is Atty. Viterbo's way of giving back to his hometown and strengthening the community through art.

The shell mosaic is a historical perspective of Roxas City from the 1900s. Measuring 3.6 m high by 17.7 m long, the mosaic consists of approximately 45,000 seashells collected from Baybay Beach in Roxas City. Lhee Taneo, a Cebu-based artist, created this mosaic from 7 different types of shells including talaba, litob, wasay-wasay, ilok-ilok, torotot, tahong and pios or capiz shell. Lloyd Develos sketched the layout.

The goals of the artist are for the viewer to "concentrate on the intricacy of medium manipulation and to elevate the use of indigenous material seashells from craft to fine art". 

The artists behind the mural and the shell mosaic:
VOV Team: Dennis Bato, Anjo Bolarda, Melanie and Andrew Gritzka, Archie Oclos, Roberto Sanchez and Lhee Taneo.
Capiz Team: Eduardo Aligno, Lugin Aparri, Lenny Areno, Julius Arro, Alfredo Bacas Jr., Saturnino Brodeth Jr., Lloyd Develos, Kinyo Dilia, Aiza Dordas, Roberto Oquendo Jr., Cornelio Fernando, Joey Taladtad, Roberto Tulo, Fernan Villareiz

"Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." George Barnard Shaw

Planta is on Primer de Mayo Street in Roxas City. Schedule of hours are posted outside the gate of Planta. There is no entrance fee as of this writing.

Roxas City is served by three daily flights from Manila. There are hourly air conditioned buses from Iloilo to Roxas and public utility vehicles (PUV) between Kalibo and Roxas.

* Sources of information:
Cheryl Anne del Rosario, Ang Panublion Museum
Video by Asphire Animations, @Vitezon.Inc. with artist, Lee Thaneo, talking about the shell mosaic she created and posted by her on Facebook on September 29, 2019
Video "VLOTBAE Capiz Mural at the Planta" by Asphire Animations. @Vitezon.Inc


Images by TravelswithCharie


Popular posts from this blog

Filipino Struggles in History - Carlos Botong Francisco

In 1968, Antonio Villegas (then Mayor of Manila), commissioned Carlos "Botong" Francisco to paint the history of Manila for Manila City Hall. The series of large scale paintings was called  Kasaysayan ng Maynila  (History of Manila).  The paintings deteriorated over time and no attempt was made to preserve these historical canvases until 2013 when Mayor Amado Lim sent them to the National Museum for extensive restoration. Four years later, in 2017, Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and the Manila City Council signed an agreement with the National Museum to leave the paintings at the museum so they may reach a larger audience in exchange for museum grade reproductions to replace the originals. Kasaysayan ng Maynila was later renamed Filipino Struggles in History and is now on display at the Senate Hall of the National Museum . Carlos "Botong" Francisco died in March 1969, a few months after completing the paintings. He is one of the first Filipino modernists and

The Art of Carlos Botong Francisco - Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

Pre-colonial period Pag-unlad ng Panggagamot sa Pilipinas (The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines) is a group of four large-scale paintings depicting healing practices in the Philippines from pre-colonial times to the modern period. Carlos Botong Francisco was commissioned in 1953 by  Dr. Agerico Sison who was then the director of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) together with   Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing of the National Museum, Dr. Florentino Herrera, Jr. and Dr. Constantino Manahan. These oil on canvas paintings measure 2.92 meters in height and 2.76 meters in width (9.71 ft x 8.92 ft) and were displayed at the main entrance hall of PGH for over five decades. Owing to its location, the artworks were in a state of "severe deterioration" at the beginning of the 21st century from exposure to heat, humidity, dirt, dust, smoke, insect stains, grime, termites and an oxidized synthetic resin used in an earlier restoration. These canvases were restored three times, the last was

8 Heritage Houses of Iloilo

Lizares Mansion The province of Iloilo on the island of Panay has a rich trove of heritage houses, left over from the sugar industry boom in the 19th century. Iloilo also had the largest port in the Philippines at that time which facilitated the export of sugar to foreign shores and deposited money in the hands of the sugar barons. The barons dropped their earnings into the acquisition of properties in Negros and the construction of beautiful homes in Iloilo, many of which are located in the vicinity of the Jaro Cathedral. The Lizares Mansion was built in 1937 by Don Emiliano Lizares for his wife, Concepcion Gamboa and five children. The family fled to safety when World War II broke out and the house was occupied by the Japanese military. The family returned to the house after the war but left once again after the demise of Don Emiliano. It was sold to the Dominican order in the 1960s and was converted in 1978 to a private school, Angelicum School. The mansion now houses the