Five Must See Places In Angono

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."

We all have our own reasons for travelling and it would be a good idea to travel while we're still young.  Two hours away from Makati, the town of Angono Rizal can easily be reached. Unknown to many, the town of Angono probably has the greatest number of artists in the country. In fact, the whole town is dubbed as the country's largest Art museum.

Over the weekend, my fellow bloggers and I were invited to a tour by the Municipal Tourism, Culture and Arts Office of Angono. Our coaster ride made me feel like I'm in a school field trip. Below are five must-see places to visit when in Angono.

Angono Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs are drawings or carvings on rock, made by prehistoric people. It may be a coincidence but I am not surprised to find out that the oldest known work of art in the Philppines is in Angono considering that it is the art capital of the Philippines. 

Before reaching the site, we went through a man-made tunnel. Then we were educated about the Petroglyphs. The carvings are located in a shallow rock shelter. One hundred twenty seven of the inscriptions are found on the rockwall and fifty-one of those are clearly recognizable. These figures are dated to be carved in the late Neolithic period. Erosions may have caused the figures to be indistinguishable. The visible incriptions show human figures, lizards and frogs, among other designs and that the style of the drawings does not seem to belong to one individual only.

It was in 1973 when it was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.

It was my first time to see such a thing and the child in me just couldn't help but be amazed! I used to see these carvings only in books but it was a totally different experience to see the actual thing. A place like this suits adults and kids alike.

Carlos Francisco's residence and street murals

The street where Carlos "Botong" Francisco resides is filled with murals. Botong's house is no exception: the exterior, garden, walkway, door, living room, work area, and almost every corner of his house are filled with murals, paintings, carvings and memorabilia. Interesting things to see are useful items such as chairs, tables, and bed which are all designed by him and part of the display. His personal items including sets of brush he used are also shown. His son's works are also hung on the walls. He clearly has a style of his own which I find quite modern.

It is said that the late President Ferdinand Marcos and the first lady is fond of his works that his paintings can be seen in Malacanang and government establishments like the Manila City hall. In addition, his works of art are also used in publications that's why seeing his pieces of art work gives you the feeling of familiarity. Botong was declared National Artist for Painting in 1973. His work is characterized by accurate depiction of the folk values of the townspeople in Angono.

I appreciated the bright colorful paintings on display. Pride in Filipino culture emanates from his works. His talent was not limited to painting, it extends to carvings and practical designs for the home.

Blanco Family Museum

The most popular family in Angono is the Blancos. The parents "Pitok" and "Loring" up to the youngest child in the family are all painters. Their work is distinguished by its realism and how closely it resembles the Filipino skin color and features. Most of their subjects are each other. Even without proper schooling in the arts, Pitok and Loring's children exhibited exceptional skills in painting. They learned their father's style of painting but in my discerning eye, Pitok's art works stand out. My jaw literally dropped upon seeing the patriarch's works especially the painting with the size as huge as a wall. There were also paintings from the grandchildren which I find amusing.

In case you're wondering why there's a figure of an upside down fish in front of the museum, it would be best to visit the museum and find out for yourself. Jose "Pitok" Blanco used earthly colors to depict his art. People appreciated his works since it clearly shows love for country and traditions.

Each member of the family has a designated area in the museum and everything's arranged according to the age when they created their work. The children from the eldest to the youngest are Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, John, Kaye, and Peter Paul. The youngest has been the favorite subject for most artwork. The family's works have been exposed to different countries: China (1986) Singapore (1990), San Francisco, USA (1991), Seville, Spain (1992), and New York, USA (1999 and 2005). Recently, some of their work are displayed in the recent Art MOD fair at SM Megamall held on the 9th-11th of June this year.

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant

Balaw Balaw is located at the Manila East Road/ Angono highway. It is an old home turned into an art gallery and restaurant. It has a rustic and festive ambiance. While waiting for food to be served, we went around the place to marvel at the sculpture and paintings, and Higantes masks made of paper maches by Perdigon Vocalan and other artists. Aside from traditional Filipino food, Balaw Balaw boasts of exotic dishes such as Crocodile sisig, Ants soup, snails, soup no. 5, frog, crickets, snakes, wasps, and duck which is a must-try for balikbayans and foreign guests. The availability of the exotic dishes are seasonal except for the Crocodile sisig.The place is kind of dim and is perfect for a romantic setting. Balaw Balaw is definitely unique, interesting and offers quality food. It displays art from the first up to the third floor for your eyes to feast on and food to satisfy your taste buds.

The interiors live up to the reputation of Angono as the art capital. Minaluto, Sinigang na Kanduli, Fried Itik, Pochero, Adobong Itik in Balaw Balaw, Crispy Alagaw leaves are some of the dishes we tried and I find it truly satisfying.

Pinto Art Museum

Still in Rizal is a favorite destination among Millenials. Word about the museum got around in social media quite quickly which made me want to visit ASAP. Words can't describe how I felt when I heard that our itinerary changed from Angono Lakeside park to Pinto Art museum. Entering the door of Pinto Art museum will take you to another dimension.

The facade of the museum is unassuming. You'll be surprised about what it has inside. Try as you may, listening to the tour guide will be useless since the sceneries will distract you as you take your first steps inside. Going in further you'll see the variety of visual treats. The contemporary pieces of artwork ranges from paintings, sculptures, carvings, and architecture to motorcycle and automobile. When you get tired, you can sip a cup of your favorite beverage from the cafe while enjoying the surroundings and the sound of the caged birds. 

The landscaping is fascinating and Instagram-worthy. You'll find yourself in awe with the seemingly antique and Greek style of the buildings. It gives you that "Santorini" ambiance. Every corner is picturesque. I suggest you follow the viewing order of galleries and you'll find yourself amazed at each turn. The whole day might not be enough to appreciate the place so be sure to get there early. By the way, a particular place in the museum inspired by Jose Rizal lets you write a letter to your loved one. Write that unsent letter of yours, who knows, that person might just read it!

It was the last stop for our trip. Pinto Art Museum is highly recommended while the rest of the places we visited left me breathless and inspired. Have you visited Angono? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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