Joel Torre, Entrepreneur and Arts Advocate

Manila, Philippines–From his youth, Bacolodnon and JT’s Manukan Grille’s founder Joel Torre’s exposure to films sparked a dual passion for movies and the arts. In Bacolod, he actively participated in art groups, engaging in poster-making contests, workshops, and theater, notably the MassKara Theater.

Bacolod’s thriving arts scene, especially after the 1980s sugar crisis, is a source of pride for Torre. Negrense artists ventured beyond, learning new skills and returning home to contribute to their hometown’s creative pursuits. The rich artistic community now boasts a growing number of art galleries and an enduring art festival, the annual MassKara Festival, celebrating the cultural heritage of Negros and Bacolod.

Mentorship is essential for Torre, as demonstrated by the art workshops, participated by young artists, held recently at JT’s Manukan Grille’s Boracay branch. These workshops encompass music, painting, story making, and short film production, guided by experienced mentors. Torre believes in nurturing young talents from the vision that today’s children could become tomorrow’s masters. The dedication to honing their creative skills symbolizes the commitment to defining an artist’s life.

Torre aims for JT’s Manukan Grille to be an arts hub. Despite pandemic-induced delays, the plan to foster local art communities and share culture through art remains unwavering. So Torre, together with his family and business partners, has been planning to make the other branches a place for arts, too.

Another way Torre promotes art is by displaying paintings at his home, created mainly by his Ilonggo friends. He intends to collect more paintings because, as he mentioned, “Culture is a part of life, and how you live your life is also part of that culture.”

In fact, there’s an art display ongoing at JT’s Manukan Grille’s BGC branch (MC Home Depot-F&B Bldg., 32nd Ave. cor. Bonifacio Blvd.) Titled “Colors and Flavors of Bacolod,” the mini-art exhibit features acrylic works by online art gallery’s artists Roselle Manalastas and Jason Ray Zabat. The art display is on view until October 15, 2023. – Toby Denise Concepcion

Photo: Oliver Cape