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Los Roces y Amigos: Casa Roces opens its art gallery to the viewing (and eating) public


When Casa Roces opened its doors last July, its objective was not only to introduce a newly furbished 1930s house, but also to gather friends, families and loved ones to partake of comfort food in an artsy ambience. Most recently, Casa Roces opened Galeria Roces, with a distinguished neighbor, namely President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, coming over from Malacanan to grace the event.

“This is the first time I had a President behind me as I cut the ribbon,” quipped Guest of Honor, National Artist Arturo Luz to his wife, the very elegant Tessie Luz.

Luz cut a one-of-a-kind artwork designed by paper artists Tes Pasola and Tony Gonzales for the occasion. The duo strung together paper cutouts spelling out Roces family values such as “love of country and the arts” and “standing up for what you believe in.”

Among the more famous Roces kin from this family of artists, educators and writers, would be Joaquin “Chino” Roces, the activist publisher who convinced Cory Aquino to run for president. The café on the ground floor of Casa Roces, Kape Chino, is named in his honor.

Called “Los Roces y Amigos,” the inaugural exhibit brought together distinguished Philippine artists such as Gus Albor, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Norberto Carating, Ed Castrillo, Rock Drilon, Abdulmari Asia Imao, Juan Luna, Impy Pilapil and young talent Jonas Roces whom Casa Roces proprietor Peachy Prieto fondly calls “our adopted cousin.”

Peachy worked closely with daughter Bianca Prieto Santos and interior designer Tina Bonoan to refurbish the house. An art lover herself, Peachy’s sophisticated bohemian touch can be seen on both the first and second floors.

Creativity is in her genes, as the inaugural exhibit featuring artists in the family attests. Gracing the walls of Galeria Roces are works by Alfredo “Ding” Roces, Elena “Morita” Roces, Carlos Roces from Spain, Miguel Fabie III, Sandra Fabie Gfeller, Briccio Santos and Julie Roces.

The October 25 event not only launched the art gallery but also formally introduced Casa Roces as a dining and arts venue.

Seen enjoying tasty offerings such as cochinillo and durian crème brulee were some very interesting guests such as Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman, heritage advocate Gemma Cruz-Araneta, and Miss Universe contender, Maria Venus Raj.

“We were hoping to achieve a sort of ‘China Club’ feel and approach to art with constantly evolving shows and contemporary art exhibits,” said Bianca Prieto Santos, who runs the gallery with cousin Tono Versoza.

“The interest in art has always been a big part of the Roces family and legacy,” said Santos. “We felt an art gallery was a necessary component for Casa Roces. Its location and proximity to Malacanan Palace allows us to expose our rich cultural heritage to foreign and Philippine dignitaries alike.”

Whether you are a dignitary or not, Casa Roces and Galeria Roces welcome you for some good coffee and art, and some comfort food in between.

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