By Nanette Guadalquiver

STOLEN. A photo of The “Mango Harvesters,” a 12×18 masterpiece painted by National Artist Fernando Armorsolo in 1936 and stolen from the Hofileña Heritage House and Museum in Silay City, Negros Occidental. The artwork can fetch millions, based on figures posted on websites of art auction houses. (Image courtesy of Solomon Lopez-Locsin Facebook)

BACOLOD CITY – The arts and culture community in Negros Occidental has called for help to locate the painting of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo stolen from the Hofileña Heritage House and Museum in Silay City earlier this week.

The “Mango Harvesters,” a 12×18 masterpiece, was painted by Amorsolo in 1936.

“Let us all help to find the stolen Amorsolo from the Hofileña Heritage House,” the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros, headed by Tey Sevilleno, said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“Please share. Let us all help our local museums secure their art and exhibits. Let us help each other,” it added.

On Friday night, Solomon Lopez-Locsin, chair of the Negros Occidental Historical Council, posted a “stolen art alert,” appealing to “spread the word and prevent its reselling.”

“Please help in the recovery of this important piece of Philippine art,” he added.

Prices of Amorsolo artworks of similar sizes amount to millions of pesos, based on figures posted on websites of art auction houses.

Locsin said those who have information or sighting of the artwork can contact the Silay Component City Police Station at 0998-5987443 or 0998-9674432.

In his interaction with a Facebook commenter, Locsin said there is a closed-circuit television camera in the museum and he hopes “there are leads soon.”

Sevilleno, in a separate post, said she saw the painting on March 7, and it was also seen by her friends when they visited on July 2.

The city government learned about the theft when museum manager Rene Hofileña informed city tourism officer Gerle Sulmaca about the incident Friday morning.

It is believed that the painting was stolen when two groups of tourists visited the museum on July 3, with just one tour guide on duty.

Also on Saturday morning, Silay Mayor Joedith Gallego and Hofileña met at the museum to discuss the assistance the city government could provide in securing the museum.

Gallego instructed the Silay police, led by Lt. Col. Mark Anthony Darroca, to expedite the investigation. (PNA)