Angono: The Art Capital of the Philippines
Ancient civilizations and communities indulged themselves in rock art. By removing the surface of rock formations, figures and symbols are carved and incised by cave dwellers. Better known as petroglyphs, these may have significant spiritual and cultural ties.
In the Philippines, the oldest petroglyphs are found in Angono, Rizal. In March 1965, it was discovered by Carlos Botong Francisco and his troop of boy scouts in a field trip to the hinterlands of Angono and Binangonan. The shallow rock shelter is adorned with carvings resembling that of human, frogs, and lizards. There could probably be more had natural elements and vandalism not ruined this archeological site. Pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decre No. 260, the Angono Petroglyphs was declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure in 1973. In 1985, it was included in the World Inventory of Rock Art.
The artistic nature of these ancient dwellers of the land may have been passed to the contemporary society in Angono. Proud sons and daughters of Angono like Carlos Francisco most probably inherited and imbibed the artistry of their ancestors. Fondly called as Botong, he is the most acclaimed mural painter whose masterpieces included The Martydom of Rizal, the First Mass at Limasawa, and the Blood Compact. In 1973, he was declared as National Artist for Visual Arts.
Displayed along the stretch of Dona Aurora Street are murals replicating the obras maestra of Botong Francisco and other Angono artists. At the corner is the ancestral house of Lucio San Pedro, National Artist for Music. His most famous work Ugoy ng Duyan is prominently displayed outside of the house.
Probably the most prolific clan of artists in Angono is the Blanco family. The late patriarch, Jose, started the culture of arts in the family, encouraged and mentored his five sons and two daughters in the process. Evidently, all grew to be great painters. The Blanco Family Museum houses some of their priceless masterpieces.
Another important gallery of arts that can be found in Angono is Balaw Balaw. In 1982 it started as a small restaurant and a showroom for the works of Perdigon Vocalan. Balaw Balaw is now an institution in Filipino cuisine that even Andrew Zimmern paid a visit in his global quest for exotic foods.
Angono hosts and nurtures other artistic societies, chambers orchestras, musical bands, and literary groups, living proof that arts and culture are thriving in this lakeside town. These, among other compelling reasons, make Angono truly the center of arts in the Philippines.
My profound gratitude to the Office of the Mayor, Angono Tourism, and Ms. Celine Reyes of Celineism.com for inviting me to the 1st Angono Food and Art Crawl.