Feeling the artsy vibe of Masbate: The Art Capital of Bicol Region

Coming from the long line of ‘oragon’ artists from Bicol region, it is well-known that our art industry is purely defined to as one of the hidden gems of Bicolandia – ranging from its local artists down to its local-produced which is proudly part of our emerging tourism products.

As these art sectors continuously grow and evolve through time, many of us became gradually immersed with local art events, intensely poking our great interest in discovering new passions and talents along the way. Significantly, Masbate province, produces an annual art event to make sure that local art enthusiasts and artists can fully exhibit their potentials not just in one specific field of art, but to nine (9) art sectors – an incredible first for region 5. 

Highlighting Bicolanos’ pride and artsy standards, the province of Masbate spearheads Obra Masbateño Arts Festival every February alongside National Arts Month every year since 2021. Honoring the existing diversified art sectors of Masbate which includes visual, literary, culinary, music, dance, photography, film, fashion design, and makeup. This celebration is full of simultaneous events focused on the variations of art in different perceptions. 

This year, the said festival is recognized among the official calendar of activities for the National Arts Month by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the only one among the provinces of Bicol. This clearly states that the province of Masbate is acknowledged to be among the core of the Philippine arts industry. 

Indulging with the best and most passionate members of Masbate’s art society, numerous local artists have been successfully emerging their talents in a national audience after their exposure in Obra Masbateño Arts Festival. 

Among them is Abril Dominic Valdemoro, the grand awardee of Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) for sculpture. Valdemoro is a proud product of Obra and a dignified Masbateño who have coursed his talents all the way to the national stage, bringing forth the pride of the art-rich province. Another is Mark Czar Espenilla, hailing from San Jacinto, Ticao Island. He is also a product of Obra and is now exemplifying his talents in visual arts through his solo exhibitions made from resourceful materials. His artworks have already reached galleries in Metro Manila and has been featured in several national media outlets such as GMA Network.

Masbate province is also first among the provinces of Bicol to fully capacitate and incorporate this art festival into a tourism agenda. Now, aside from visiting Masbate for Rodeo Masbateño Festival every April, there’s another reason for tourists to visit the island province even at the 2nd month of the year, further promoting Bicol region’s tourism along with the arts industry in one blow. 

Tourists and art enthusiasts are welcomed in different entry points of the province every February, resulting to (1) an increase in tourist influx visiting not just the venue for Obra but also other tourist destinations within the province; (2) various socioeconomic opportunities for the locals; (3) and patronage of tourism products.

With these strengths and positive feats contributing to the tourism industry of Bicol, the Department of Tourism Regional Office No. V positively recognizes Masbate province as the ART CAPITAL OF BICOL REGION.

Through this step, the regional office opts to continuously strive and influence other provinces in Bicol region to promote utmost and inclusive tourism for all. | Danica Roselyn Lim