Classic Iloilo dishes in the eyes of Ilonggo artists 2
Detail of molo painting by Jecko Magallon

LOOK! Iloilo’s classic dishes reimagined by its hometown artists

Ilonggo artists let their homegrown favorites inspire works that might lead to an honor for their city
ANCX Staff | Oct 12 2021

Iloilo is famous for its Lapaz batchoy and molo soup—but there’s definitely more to Ilonggo cuisine than these two comforting  staples named after the Iloilo spots they are said to have originated from. The province is famously a center for gastronomic delights, as can be gleaned from its recently launched exhibit called “Timplada: The Art of Ilonggo Cuisine.” 

“Ilonggos are innate food lovers with a strong sense of practicality and resourcefulness. Even with the abundance of produce in the region, the origin of their well-known regional dishes are traced to the food sources in their backyards,” says Janine Cabato, curator of the event. “The availability of ingredients and mild flavors of Ilonggo cuisine make it an easy choice for a Filipino meal.”

Marge Chavez. Laswa. Painting
Laswa by Marge Chavez

For Timplada, 10 artists from the “City of Love” were asked to transform into artworks the classic local dishes closest to their hearts. Expect to see works from Alex Ordoyo, Jecko Magallon, and Kristoffer Brasileño, who took on the quintessentially Ilonggo dishes mentioned above as well as chicken inasal.

Noel Epalan. KBL.
KBL by Noel Epalan

To depict food preparation in the kitchen, creative couple Noel Epalan Jr. and Marge Chavez created still life paintings featuring ingredients of the region’s beloved KBL stew, or kadyos, baboy, langka; and the laswa, a favorite mixed vegetable soup whose popularity has reached other parts of the country.

Margret Blas. Tambo
Tambo by Margaux Blas

Using a more stylized technique, Margaux Blas featured ingredients of tambo, a seasonal dish made of bamboo shoots, on her artwork, while Marrz Capanang’s work is a sentimental rendering of another Iloilo pride: the binatwanan, a soup flavored with batwan, a green sour fruit native to the region. 

Other must-see artworks are Eric Barbosa Jr.’s and Jeanroll Ejar’s individual interpretations on traditional Ilonggo kakanin, the baye-baye and ibus.

Marrz Capanang. Binatwanan. Ang Kaaslomon kag Kanamiton
Binatwanan by Marrz Capanang

Meanwhile, Timplada ni Inday is an interesting soft sculpture that reads like a book, spotlighting Hiligaynon terms for taste and names of local fish. A brainchild of Inday Dolls Rosa Zerrudo, the hand-embroidered work was created in collaboration with women artists and hablon weavers behind bars or persons deprived of liberty (PDL) in Iloilo City.

Jeanroll Ejar. Ibus. Sculpture
Ibus sculpture by Jeanroll Ejar.
Ibus sculpture by Jeanroll Ejar
Ibus sculpture by Jeanroll Ejar

The art exhibit is ongoing at the Hulot Gallery in the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA) located in Casa de Emperador, Iloilo Business Park.

But Timplada: The Art of Ilonggo Cuisine is more than just an art show. It is a three-part event that also includes a series of educational live streams, and an Iloilo City food map.

Jecko Magallon
Molo by Jecko Magallon

Spearheaded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the project is among the efforts being made by Iloilo City to be recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a Creative City for Gastronomy. In the world, there are only 36 of these cities, and should Iloilo qualify, it will be the first city in the country to gain the distinction. 

For more information, visit ILOMOCA on Facebook at and on Instagram at @itsilomoca. You may also send an e-mail to ILOMOCA is located at Casa de Emperador, Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.