The municipality of Angono in the province of Rizal is dubbed as the “Art Capital of the Philippines”. It is a perfect way to describe Angono because art is all around the place. Angono is noted for its numerous art galleries, art houses, museums, studios, and street art.
Angono is home to two national artists, namely National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts Carlos “Botong” Francisco and National Artist of the Philippines for Music Meastro Lucio San Pedro. The lyrics and notes one of San Pedro’s famous composition called “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” are inscribed on a wall. Angono is also home to many acclaimed local talents and rising artists.
The Angono Petroglyphs are considered the oldest known work of art in the Philippines. Some experts claim that the carvings can be traced back to the late Neolithic. It depicts human and animal figures like frogs and lizards.
In 1973, the National Museum of the Philippines declared it as a National Cultural Treasure. In 1985, the Angono Petroglyphs were included in the list of the World Inventory of Rock Art, historic sites of the World Monuments Watch and World Monuments Fund and part of the Philippines’ tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Angono is a perfect destination for art enthusiasts. Even the streets are bursting at the seams with art. Near the Town Hall, you’ll find a sculpture of “Malakas at Maganda”. As you go down the street of Dona Aurora Ibaba, you’ll see a remarkable stretch of wall art as a tribute to homegrown National Artists for painting and music. The murals casts in cement showcase paintings of Carlos Francisco.
Nemiranda Art House Atelier Cafe
I had the privilege of seeing the paintings of internationally recognized painter and sculptor Artist Nemesio Miranda when I visited the Nemiranda Art House Atelier Café. The art house which features a café and restaurant is a popular tourist spot in Angono.
While waiting for our dinner, my family and I went around the Nemiranda Art House and had a good look at the artist’s collection of paintings and sculptures.
I noticed Miranda’s fondness for painting folkloric art. I later found out that the art house has been dubbed by some as the “House of Myths and Legends”. Several paintings of mythical creatures like the “aswang”, “sirena” and “kapre” caught my attention. I think my 11-year old son got a little creeped out by the paintings so he quietly left my side to join his dad. Those paintings brought back childhood memories when my yaya (nanny) used to tell me stories of things that went bump in the night. Upon realizing that I was alone, I admit I felt a little shiver down my spine.
I saw a lot of nationalistic and religious artworks. Some of Nemiranda’s notable works include the Mural on the History of the Philippine Army, Relief Sculpture in the parade ground of Fort Bonifacio, People Power I painting, EDSA Shrine Mural, EDSA II Relief Sculptures, “The Way of Mary”, and 20 Relief Sculpture of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary from EDSA Shrine to Antipolo Shrine.
Just beside Nemiranda Art House Atelier Café is Balaw Balaw. It is a specialty restaurant and art gallery at the same time. When it comes to food, Balaw Balaw is known for traditional and exotic Filipino dishes such as soup no. 5, uok, and kamaro. The place is lined up with colorful paper mache masks. It is owned by Angono local artist Perdigon N. Vocalan and his wife Luzvimin L. Vocalan.
Carlos “Botong” Francisco Art House
One of the popular art stops in Angono is the house of Carlos “Botong” Francisco, National Artist for Visual Arts. Botong is best known as a practitioner of mural paintings and historical pieces. His goal was to preserve Philippine cultural history from the prehistoric period to the present. He enjoyed depicting cultural and religious life of the Filipino people, especially from his hometown.
His art house is located along along Poblacion Itaas Street. It has been renovated to serve both as a studio and museum. Guests may enter the art house for free. There is no entrance fee required.
Visitors are greeted by a view of the studio upon entering the house. The art venue called “Second Gallery” is home to the master pieces of his grandson Carlos “Totong” Francisco II who is noted for his abstract expressionism. Guests can also view mural paintings, self-portraits and other unfinished art works. Some wartime artifacts are displayed in the house. The actual drafting table that the late Carlos Francisco used is also there for public’s viewing. There are no paintings of the late National artist left in the house.
The house was restored by Totong Francisco due to frequent flooding. He hopes that the house will be turned into a national heritage site in the near future to keep the legacy of his grandfather alive.
Blanco Family Museum
“I am just a brush in the hand of our Lord, without his guidance I can’t paint nothing.” – Tatay Pitok Blanco
Creativity runs in the blood of the Blanco clan. The late artist Jose “Pitok” V. Blanco was blessed with seven children namely Glen, Noel, Michael, Joy, John, Kaye and Peter Paul. All of them have inherited their father’s gift in art. Jose, his wife and seven children are all passionate artists. The patriarch of the Blanco family died at the age of 76.
The Blanco Family Museum showcases the artworks of all the members of the Blanco family. It’s amazing that despite the lack of formal training in painting, the quality of the artworks of the Blanco family are at par or even exceeds that of professional artists. Some say that their artworks almost resemble photographs taken from a professional camera.
The Blanco artists enjoy painting their own such as their parents, siblings and other relatives. Peter Paul, the youngest of the seven children is a favorite subject. One will notice him in many of the paintings. Peter Paul learned to paint at the early age of two. The Blanco family also likes immortalizing rural life on canvas.
Photos by author. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a chocolate lover, full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.