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La Herencia: Art in the City

Since La Herencia art space opened its doors to the public two years ago, it has provided an area for artists to showcase their works at the same time provide a conducive atmosphere for visitors wanting to immerse in the city’s rich creative scene.

La Herencia used to be the old Holiday Gym and Spa and for 17 years was one of the popular fitness gyms in Davao City. It was then a well-known landmark for gym buffs and for those wanting to play a game of badminton or doing their laps at the swimming pool.

In 2020, the gym’s lease on the property expired, after the area was vacated the property owners decided to transform the building into an arts and event space.

"La Herencia opened in December 2020 and the art space was inaugurated on May 15 2021. We're celebrating two years already," said visual artist Wilfred Dexter "Rob" Tañedo, the art coordinator for La Herencia Davao.

According to Rob, they named the place La Herencia or Spanish for heritage, as the property was an inheritance from Rob’s great grandmother Doña Vincenta Tionko. Gutierrez Development Company, the company that currently owns the property, are heirs of Doña Vicenta.  

"I was just delegated to supervise the spaces as property manager," said Rob.

"I used to work with Philippine Women’s College (PWC)  Davao. I was the former program chair for painting and visual communication, so part of it after the students graduate, they don't have the space where they could showcase their works other than the galleries," Rob recalled why they converted it into an art space.

The space

The art and event space has about 600 square meters combined space available for artists who would want to mount exhibits and other related events. The main event center has 500 square meters while  “The Foyer,” which usually hosts exhibits, has 109 square meters of display space.

"If you want to include the garden it would be 700 square meters," said Rob.

According to Rob, the space was the former basketball court and the culinary school of the gym. The remainder of the fitness center became the repository, a dance studio, Romantic Baboy samgyupsal restaurant. Meanwhile, the badminton court and the swimming pool of the erstwhile Holiday Gym was retained and still open to clients.

A part of the space serves as the Library Resource Center which houses art related literature and also serves as an art exhibit space. In August of this year, they opened the Patio, a 30-square meter event space specifically designed for small art workshops, art talks, performances and small meetings.

"We're planning to expand siguro after two to three years para maging 800 square meters," Rob bared their expansion plans.

Main event center

So far, La Herencia has become popular among artists and cultural workers, who have patronized the space and organized events within its confines.

It has hosted over a hundred art exhibits with each exhibit running for at least two weeks. They are fully booked for the whole 2024 with bookings even in 2025.

La Herencia art coordinator Wilfred Dexter Rob Tañedo

Aside from art events, the main event space also has become a popular venue for weddings, wedding receptions, debuts, and corporate events.

"Many people are coming in and different art communities coming in also. We are being recognized more as an art space more than just an event space," Rob described the growing popularity of La Herencia.

La Herencia has also hosted arts related activities such as forum, workshops, film screenings, fashion shows and artist pop-ups.

Among the notable exhibits include the Pop Culture Mania which gathers different pop culture community in the city. Another event was the exhibit of Dabawenyo comic boom artist Kajo

Baldisimo, who is known for his cult classic Trese which was adapted into an animated series shown on Netflix.

“Since we are an art space we are very flexible we try to meet kung anong hinahanap ng mga artists for their exhibition,” Rob said.

Art Spaces and tourism

Rob said that Davao City now has many art spaces such as galleries where Dabawenyo creatives can display their works. “In terms of galleries madaragdagan (added) po tayo this year,” Rob revealed of new galleries opening that bodes well for artists.

Rob, along with several artists and cultural workers, are looking at creating three art districts in Davao City.

“An art district can be found in Bacolod and which we can adopt here in Davao City, my recommendation to the group is:  there could be three art districts in Davao, something in the middle, in the north and something in the south. Maybe doon tayo sa Lanang because they are starting to develop their community there, then we have La Herencia for the downtown and in the south we have the Galvez Art Portal Gallery, we also have several galleries in Matina,” Rob said of the art districts which are potential tourist attractions.

As the art district is still awaiting fruition, Rob said La Herencia would function not just as a pure art space but an event space which gathers art communities, Dabawenyos and tourists. (RGA/PIA Davao)

Vice-President Sara Duterte visits La Herencia for an art exhibit.

About the Author

Rudolph Ian Alama

Regional Editor

Region 11

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