Paul Bryan Bio 

Fernando Amorsolo, one of the icons of Philippine art and the country’s first-ever recipient of the National Artist Award in 1972, is known for his ability to craft realistic and luminous-style paintings. 

But a dark cloud hands over the art world this rainy season.

On a rainy afternoon on July 3, the Hofileña Museum in Silay City, Negros Occidental, discovered that Amorsolo’s beloved Mango Harvesters, an 88-year-old masterpiece, was stolen.

The museum, a cradle of ancient paintings, pleads for the public’s aid in retrieving the national treasure. In a Facebook post, Eileen Hofileña sought help recovering the lost painting of the national artist, together with the numbers they can call in case they find valuable information.

“If you have any information, please contact 09985987443 / 09989674432 (SILAY PNP),” Eileen captioned on her Facebook post.

According to Rene Hofileña, administrator of the museum, the robbery occurred at around 10 in the morning of July 3, with two of the culprits, whom he identified as a middle-aged woman and a male, caught on the CCTV footage of the museum. Another three people said Rene also possibly had an involvement in the crime. 

“They saw the man take the painting down and put it in the bag of the woman but did not say anything or let us know what happened,” Hofileña said in an Inquirer article. 

“It all happened within seconds. The woman with the painting in her bag hurriedly walked out of the museum and down the road,” he added. 

More to what’s lost

Amorsolo’s artworks are more than just visuals – they are stories bathed in warm sunlight.

His signature style masterfully employs light to create a glow effect in his pieces, particularly those depicting rural Philippine landscapes, Filipinas in traditional baro’t saya attire, and farmers planting underneath the scorching heat. 

Amorsolo's Mango Harvesters was painted in 1936 using oil on canvas, and it measures 12x18 inches, which is owned by the late Ramon Hofileña, an art curator in Negros Occidental and also a brother of Rene Hofileña. 

The piece became one of the art collections of the Hofileñas and has been on display since the house was converted into a museum in 1962. 

The painting features a family consisting of a child, a mother, and a father harvesting mangoes under a mango tree, perhaps after months of waiting for it to finally bear its fruit. Mango Harvesters is just one of Amorsolo's works portraying mangoes and harvests. 

Solomon Locsin, Negros Occidental Historical Council chairman, underscored the importance of the stolen artwork. He said that the piece was painted by Amorsolo just right after his return from his art studies abroad and started to gain fame. 

“The public outcry was really for Mon Hofileña, not for a lost painting. He opened his ancestral home to the public as early as 1962—way before tours or museums were norm in Negros Island,” Locsin said in a statement. 

“What he really built for Silay, the painting is just the piece of a bigger dream of Mon. Now that piece is missing. It’s like losing a piece of your identity, from a town’s collective memory and pride,” he added.

Amorsolo's artwork is indeed eye-catching, captivating the eyes of the people lurking around. However, will the collective effort be enough to bring Mango Harvesters back to the light where it belongs?