Angono is dubbed as the art capital of the Philippines and has produced a number of renowned creative minds. This includes two National Artists: Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco for Visual Arts and Lucio San Pedro for Music.
This municipality in Rizal traces its roots to the Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, discovered by Francisco in 1965 on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. It is believed to be the oldest known artworks in the Philippines and is said to date back to the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age. During the Spanish era, artists like Juan Senson and Pedro Piñon thrived in Angono.
Angono has nurtured more than 500 painters alone, along with countless other artists in the fields of music, literature, film, theater, crafts, and more. Apart from notable creatives, Angono also boasts galleries, museums, studios, and artist groups.
The arts and culture scene of Rizal remains vibrant today, with artists, families, and museums preserving the province’s heritage. Here’s how they’re doing it:
Nemesio Miranda of Nemiranda
31 Doña Aurora St, Angono
Nemesio “Nemi” Miranda Jr., or Nemiranda, is known for his works depicting Filipino scenes. He is also recognized for painting in a style called imaginative figurism. This means that he paints his subjects through his imagination, with no references.
Miranda is the artist behind the EDSA Shrine Mural, History of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio, and the Dambana ng Kagitingan, the last of which honors veterans and soldiers from Angono during World War II. Today, the artist runs Nemiranda Arthouse and Museum, which is also the home of the Art Cafe.
Nemiranda has played a leading role in the province’s art scene as one of the founders of the Angono Atelier’s Association in 1975. It’s the first art organization in the municipality, and his studio became a watering hole and workshop venue for its members. They also established the Angono Junior Ateliers, which became the training ground for student painters.
The group also started the Angono Arts Festival, which is celebrated every November in time for Botong Francisco’s birthday. During the festival, an exhibit, student art contest, and workshops are held.
Nemiranda also helped form the Higante Makers and Sculptors Society. This group helped institutionalize the Higantes Festival, which is famous for the giant papier-mâché puppets that would parade the streets. For six years, the artist ran the Angono School for the Arts, which promoted an art-based education.
When quarantine restrictions were relaxed, the Angono Ateliers Association organized monthly exhibits for the group.
- Opening hours: 9 am to 7 pm
- Facebook: facebook.com/nemiranda.gallery/
- Contact number: +638727-9989
The Blanco family of Blanco Family Art Museum
312B A. Ibañez St, Angono
The Blancos are unique because all of its members are artists. The father is the celebrated artist Jose “Pitok” Blanco, who trained all seven of his kids to paint. Even his wife, Loreto “Loring” Blanco is an artist, but began late in life when their son Peter Paul said he would only paint if his mother did, too.
The Blanco Family Art Museum houses their works, from the time the second generation were kids up to adulthood. Among the must-sees is one of Peter Paul’s artworks, which he created when he was just 11 months old.
Pitok was inspired to build the gallery when the family exhibited at the National Museum in 1978. They were the first family of artists to do so.
The Blancos are known for their style of realism and choosing to paint Filipino culture and traditions. What they differ in is the theme.
Pitok focuses on nature and culture, while Loring expresses the love of a mother for her child. Gay paints mother and child scenes, while Peter Paul depicts his hobbies on the canvas. Jan paints feathered animals, Joy illustrates the human anatomy, Noel dives into water themes, and Glenn draws landscapes. Michael, who is also the museum director, is skilled in human expressions.
Curiously, not one of the kids pursued fine arts in college. According to Pitok, “bakit pa kayo kukuha ng Fine Arts, pwede naman ako na yung magturo sa inyo?” (“Why would you take Fine Arts when I could teach you?”) Their degrees range from literature to journalism, commerce, and mass communications. Their idea of family bonding is having a painting session, guided by Pitok.
The family hopes that they can inspire the next generation of Filipinos through their art. They support new artists through monthly exhibits, and also conduct workshops during the summer. The museum opens its doors to artistic endeavors, such as rehearsals for theater arts, lectures, and more.
- Opening hours: 9 am to 12 pm, 1 pm to 6 pm
- Facebook: facebook.com/TheBlancoFamilyMuseum
- Contact number: +639154-217-670
Carlos “Botong” Francisco
Dona Aurora Street, Angono
Carlos “Botong” Francisco, one of the country’s most distinguished muralists, brought pride to Rizal when he was posthumously conferred the National Artist Award in 1973. Some of his famous pieces include Harana, Bayanihan, First Mass at Limasawa, The Martyrdom of Rizal, and more. His body of work depicts the mythical world of the Filipino and its history.
His residence in Angono is open to the public. None of his original works, however, remain there since they are in private collections and places such as the Far Eastern University campus and National Museum.
Still, guests can admire his modernist style through reproductions, along with sketches, photographs, materials, and souvenirs from the films he worked on. His National Artist award is also on display.
The residence also supports local artists by exhibiting their murals for guests to see and appreciate.
Francisco’s spirit also lives on outside his home. Along Doña Aurora, where the residence is located, local craftsmen translated the National Artist’s works on concrete walls.
According to Botong’s grandson Carlos “Totong” Francisco, who manages the home and studio-turned museum, residents usually agree because it’s done for free. Sometimes they even request specific artworks to be etched on their walls.
- Recommended visiting hours: 10 am to 3 pm
- Facebook: facebook.com/CarlosFranciscoStudio2Gallery/
- Contact number: 6610598
Perdigon Vocalan of Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery
16 Doña Justa Subdivision, Phase I, Manila East Highway, Angono
It seems like Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery preserves the culture of Rizal through the food they serve. Vocalan, a painter and sculptor, opened the restaurant to serve his visitors. At the time, he would cook for his guests until one of them suggested that he put a small canteen.
Vocalan launched Balaw Balaw in 1982 and it grew into a gallery, museum, and fine dining restaurant. Today, Balaw Balaw is one of Angono’s top tourist attractions.
One of their star dishes is the minaluto, a local version of paella. It’s inspired by the meal farmers and fishermen brought to the fields and lakes. They would wrap hot rice, fish, salted egg, and a tomato in a leaf, and eat it for lunch. Balaw Balaw serves it bilao-style (in a woven tray) and is enjoyed by a group.
They also have three types of rice: the Balaw Balaw Yellow Rice, made with atsuete oil (annatto) and margarine; the Balaw Balaw Pink Rice, cooked with burong hipon (pickled shrimp); and the Bagoong Rice (fermented shrimp paste). Due to their proximity to Laguna Lake, seafood dishes featuring hito (catfish) and dalag (snakehead murrel) dishes are popular, too.
What makes Balaw Balaw unique is the access to the art gallery. While diners wait for their food, they can visit the gallery to see Vocalan’s paintings and sculptures.
- Opening hours: 10 am to 8 pm
- Facebook: facebook.com/BalawBalaw
- Contact number: (087) 729 4338
Pinto Art Museum
1 Sierra Madre St, Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo
The museum’s name is derived from pinto, the Filipino word for door. Not only is the museum a place to exhibit the collection of neurologist and patron Dr. Joven Cuanang, it also serves as the guest’s door to Philippine contemporary art.
The story of Pinto is actually years in the making. Dr. Cuanang began collecting in the 1980s and established himself as a big supporter of the Filipino artistic community.
A group of young artists called the Salingpusas were introduced to Dr. Cuanang. The Filipino term salingpusa roughly means someone who is allowed to participate in a game even if he or she is not necessarily equipped to play it. This group of artists struggled to get their works exhibited and took on odd jobs to survive.
The doctor would host them in his weekend home in Antipolo so they could draw. In 1991, Dr. Cuanang hosted shows for them in his Silangan Gardens, which would later become Pinto. He would invite his friends and colleagues to view the pieces, which were then hung on clotheslines.
The artists turned Silangan Gardens into their headquarters, with some living there for over a decade. Soon, their works flourished and many won awards.
In 2001, Silangan Gardens was transformed into the Pinto Art Gallery. Ten years later, Dr. Cuanang turned it into the Pinto Art Museum and opened his collection to the public.
As for the young salingpusas, who once struggled to get their works exhibited, they would become some of the most important names in art: Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, Mark Justiniani, Antonio Leaño, and Ferdie Montemayor, to name a few.
Pinto hosts rotating exhibits to continue promoting contemporary Filipino artists. Because of its beautiful interiors and picturesque outdoor spaces, Pinto routinely makes it to Artnet’s World’s Most Instagrammed Museums list.
- Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm
- Facebook: facebook.com/Pinto.Art.Museum.officialpage
- Website: pintoart.org
- Contact number: 286971015
Have a Safe Trip!
Art galleries in Rizal are ready for enthusiasts! Guests are required to wear a face mask and shield, and practice social distancing at all times. The places set sanitary and contact tracing procedures such as registration at the reception and using alcohol to sanitize hands before entering the premises. To know more about Rizal, visit rizalprovince.ph/
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.