Wednesday, April 24, 2019

VMC nurturing arts in Negros

VICTORIAS Milling Company (VMC) remains one of the heritage sites in Negros Occidental for its array of architectural and art treasures, most notable of which is the St. Joseph the Worker Church’s mural, more popularly known as “The Angry Christ.”

The mural was painted by Alfonso Ossorio, a Filipino-American who hails from Negros and scion of the Ossorios that originally owned VMC. He became one of the prime movers of the first major American art movements—abstract expressionism—along with artists Jackson Pollock, William de Koonig, Mark Rothko, among others.

Ossorio, who was based then in the US, was asked by his family to come home and create the mural behind the altar. The piercing eyes of the Christ were described by a lifestyle writer as angry-like which led to it being coined the “Angry Christ.”

Decades later, Ossorio, along with Benjamin Valenciano, Arcadio Anore and Belgian artist, Ade Bethune have been hailed as icons of Philippine religious arts for their contribution particularly in introducing the “Filipinized” version of religious themes which can be seen all over the church.

The Church designed by Czech architect, Antonín Raymond, stands as VMC’s testimony to its continuing nourishment of the spiritual needs of its employees and nurturing the arts and the artists in their community.

It continues to date with the recent restoration of the St. Joseph the Worker Church and the artworks within under the supervision of one of the country’s top heritage preservationist, Tats Manahan.

VMC has always been at the forefront of developing arts, culture and sports in their community as far back as the late 1940s. Believing that these skills need to be nurtured, the company launched various grassroots programs in these areas to discover young talents and inspire them to pursue their love for the arts.

Art contest

In 2013, VMC launched the Inter-School Art Contest exclusive for elementary and high school students within their constituency. Don Bosco Technical Institute’s, John Jezreel Lozada, bested 20 other contestants and also won the high school category the following year.

In 2014, VMC expanded the contest to cover the whole province of Negros Occidental and included an open amateur category for students outside of Victorias City and the open professional class. Melquiades Camarines, 32, of Bacolod City bagged the grand prize with his piece “Workforce.”

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña, who heads the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence, one of the most prestigious art contests in the country, was impressed at the outputs of Negrense artists and invited some of them to participate in the national tilt.


Now on its third year, VMC’s art contest with the theme, “We Are One!” is expanding its search all over Negros Island in celebration of the reunification of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into a one-island-region as well as a manifestation of the company’s core values of teamwork and collaboration.

This year, there are three categories – Victorias Inter-School, Negros-wide Elementary and High School, and Negros-wide Tertiary level.

The deadline for submission of entries is on Sept. 18 with pre-judging in Oriental on Sept. 21, Bacolod on Sept. 23, and Victorias on Sept. 24. Final judging and Awards Night is on Oct. 2 at the Planta Hotel in Bacolod.

Apart from cash prizes for the artists, their schools will also be getting computer showcase as an incentive to encourage academic institutions to nurture arts among their students as well. All winning artworks also graced the corporate calendar of VMC since its launching.

VMC president and chief operating officer Eduardo Concepcion said this is VMC’s way of contributing to the development of arts and culture in Negros and continuing the legacy of VMC’s founding family, the Osorio’s love for the arts. PR

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