By J. C. Laquiores-Burgos
Angono, legendary land of artistry, festive kingdom of the colorful higantes, ancient town of numerous galleries, friendly neighborhood of lingering harmony, delectable place of local food, and nurturing home of the nation’s two creative geniuses. This urban municipality in the province of Rizal has seen itself included and recommended in countless lists of must-see places in the Philippines. It is a frequented site for many educational field trips and out-of-town travels. Some people who haven’t gone there, or have heard of Angono yet still wonder why it is so celebrated, I’ll tell you why.
- It is the Art Capital of the Philippines
According to a study by the International Labor Organization, more than 500 visual artists consider Angono their artistic refuge. It is home to two famous National Artists (who will be named later unless you know them already), and to various artist groups like Angono Ateliers Association, Angono Artists Association, Neo-Angono Artists Collective, KUTA Artist Group, and Grupo Sining Angono. Famous artists in Angono include Moises Villaluz, Francisco Senson, Nemesio “Nemi”Miranda Jr., Jose “Pitok” Blanco, Perdigon Vocalan, Pepito Villaluz, Vicente Reyes, Salvador Juban, Weweng Unidad, Glenn Blanco, Ember Crisostomo, Lito Balagtas. Newer breed of Angono artists include Wire Rommel Tuazon, Jovito Andres, Ambeth Lugtu, Charlie Val, Manny Bacani, Michael Blanco and the rest of the Blanco family painters, Keiye Miranda, Carlos “Totong” Francisco, Herbert “Ebok” Pinpino, Aaron Bautista, Allan Alcantara, Isidro “Manong Jon” Santos, Dolpee Alcantara, Arturo Sanchez, Michael de Guzman, Sarah Geneblazo, Kim Oliveros, among others.
- Angono Petroglyphs
Known as the oldest work of art in the Philippines, the Angono Petroglyphs is located at the boundary of the town of Binangonan. It was discovered by artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco in March 1965 during a field trip with a troop of boy scouts as they were resting in a rock shelter. In 1973, it was declared a National Cultural Treasure, has been included in the World Inventory of Rock by 1985. It has many human and animal drawings of primitive quality, and 127 of them are still perceptible. The petroglyphs are believed to date back to the Philippine Neolithic Age from 6000 BC to 2000 BC.
- Home of Higantes
Angono is considered as the Home of the Higantes Festival. The cheerful festival is celebrated every Nov. 23 in honor of Saint Clement or San Clemente, the patron saint of fishermen, so a fluvial procession takes place in Laguna de Bay. But the fiesta is popular for its giant colorful higantes or life-sized human-shaped paper-maches that are being paraded for the celebration. The higantes tradition began from a folk story about the Angono natives protesting against an abusive landlord named Zacarias “Tangkad” who is said to be very tall and big. Their way of protest was through creating a giant effigy in his image to mock him.
- Birthplace of two National Artists
If this remarkable feat by Angono doesn’t convince you of its artistic reputation, then I don’t know what else to do. National Artist for Painting Carlos “Botong” Francisco, known for his amazing paintings like Blood Compact, First Mass at Liwasa, and Bayanihan, was born on Nov. 4, 1912. National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro, known for his touching song “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” was born on Feb. 11, 1913.
- Numerous Art Galleries
Angono contains a lot of art galleries, and some are owned by different families of artists. These include Blanco Family Museum, Nemiranda Art Gallery, Angkla Art Gallery, and of course the Botong Francisco Studio. The Balaw-Balaw Restaurant also houses the works of Perdigon Vocalan in gallery called Ang Nuno Gallery.
- The Angono Street Murals
Doña Aurora Street in Barangay Poblacion houses the famous Angono Street Gallery or Murals. It contains sculptural replicas of Francisco’s paintings along the street. It even extends to the next street behind Doña Aurora. San Pedro’s lyrics and notes of his song “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” are also inscribed on the wall at the end of the street. The hardworking artists behind this are Charlie Anorico, Gerry Batang, and Ebong Pinpino.
- Amazing Food Hubs
Two restaurants in Angono stand out for me. The Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is not just famous for its art gallery that extends to the higher floors of the establishment, but also for its unique food that it offers. It serves binurong hipon, fermented shrimp paste, and also a dish made from kanduli or catfish. The other food hub is the Scrapyard Café and Restaurant, which offers various local delicacies in large servings. Did I mention Angono is also known for the fried itik or duck?
- Lakeside Park
The Angono Lakeside Park is also called Wawa by the locals. It’s a perfect pasyalan for the whole family and friends if you just want to unwind and relax from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Just breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the sunset or sunrise from the horizon.
- Forest Park
The Angono Forest Park is another perfect destination to relax and just be in touch with nature. This 1.5 hectares of land is under the management of the local government of Angono, and just like the artistic culture of the town, it is well cared for. So if you just want to let your creative juices flow naturally and you need some inspiration, head to the Angono Forest Park.
- The friendly community
Just interacting with the people from Angono is already a treat for me. I can sense the spirit of hospitality and gentleness emanate from their presence every time they welcome me to their establishments. Maybe, it’s because of their artistic nature. Not everyone in Angono is an artist, but all of them support their local artists with all their heart. And that’s what makes their town a haven and paradise for creative people.
Tags: 10 reasons to go to Angono, Angono Petroglyphs, artistic reputation, Glenn Blanco, International Labor Organization, Michael Blanco, Michael de Guzman, national artists, Pepito Villaluz, Perdigon Vocalan