Heritage Chasers Take a Leap

This being Leap Year, Negros Season of Culture is taking a major leap of its own as we begin covering the picturesque, ecologically blessed, charmingly Old World, and heritage-steeped province of Negros Oriental. Maayong buntag!

NSC has dreamed of craning its sights over the mountain range of Kanlaon to see the plethora of narratives our fellow Negrenses eastside can tell. It took us a little over three years to create stories from yonder, but that time was well spent honing our skills, building social media presence, and securing our brand as heritage chasers. Not as easy as magic, but just as thrilling.

The plan to launch our expansion into Negros Oriental was almost a year in the making. In March 2023 we got news that the Philippine House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve in 3rd and final reading House Bill 7355, pushing for the enactment of a law creating the new region of Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor. Failing to reach the other side of the mountain was not an option for us.

With so many things on our plate in 2023, among them starting partnerships with Cable TV operators who now carry our content on their community channels, we decided to burst into Negros Oriental when 2024 rolls around. And since we begin our yearly calendar in February, here we are, wide eyed and bushy tailed for Negros Oriental.

But then February was not just any other month. Year after year, we marked it as National Arts Month. We factored that into the plan and the challenge was set: We wanted a story that would reflect the preeminence of Negros Oriental in the field of the arts. Only one name came to mind, Leon Gallery, the country’s leading art gallery auction house, owned by Dumaguete City native, Jaime Ponce de Leon.

If the famed auctions of Leon Gallery are not enough, Jaime Ponce de Leon is the Indiana Jones who hunted down Juan Luna’s “Hymen, oh Hymenee” oil on canvas. Known in art circles as the Holy Grail of Philippine Art, the masterpiece was kept from the public for 132 years prior to its exhibition at the Ayala Museum in 2023.

For this project, NSC collaborated with the gracious people of Ayala Museum and Ayala Foundation, led by Mariles L. Gustilo, a Negrense we are proud to note. We also thank Liliane “Tats” Manahan who embraces Negrense heritage and way of life, for co-producing and writing this story.

And we thank Jaime Ponce de Leon for allowing us to use his story to reflect excellence about Negros Oriental. His appreciation for the finer things in life he attributes to growing up with family in the province. Nothing sums up our choice of him for this maiden story on his province than the Mission of Leon Gallery. “Art is an important foundation of Filipino history and culture. It has the power to move, encourage and above all, inspire. We believe in a society surrounded by the power of art to constantly engage in conversation with ourselves, others and society at large. We therefore believe in art education, the cultivation of its appreciation, and through it, our country’s growth and development.”

Happy National Arts Month.

Article by: Alan Gensoli

Design and Architecture

Cultural Experience

Art and Craft