Art is Everywhere in Angono

Friday, November 27, 2015

angono rizal

To grow up in a place with such a strong sense of identity is, I believe, a legitimate source of envy. When you are exposed to a culture of artistry and imagination at such a young age, it's hard to not be artistic and imaginative. When you go to market and brush shoulders with renowned painters and esteemed poets; when art, in all its forms, is readily available, you know you're one lucky kid. Such is the case for the residents, like myself, of Angono – the Philippines' foundry of arts.

A one- to two-hour drive from the Metro, this quaint town is nestled on a portion of Laguna de Bay. At first glance, Angono looks just like any other urbanized locales: modern establishments, a mild case of air pollution, occasional traffic jams, and a huddle or two of street children. Look deeper though and one will see undeniable dregs of the once fishing village and an unmistakable inclination to creativity.

Here are a number of places that prove art is in every corner of of Angono:

Balaw-balaw Restaurant: Combining Food and Art

Founded by spouses Perdigon and Luzviminda Vocalan, Balaw-balaw Restaurant is one of the most visited sites in Angono. Offering traditional Filipino cuisine and the eponymous exotic dish similar to bagoong, this place also doubles as a museum housing works by Perdigon Vocalan and other local artists.
Eclectic. The ground floor of Balaw-balaw serves as the dining area
balaw balaw angono
The last supper. Upstairs sculptures are displayed.
Aside from sculptures and self-portraits, there is also a workshop for higantes fabrication on the topmost floor of the restaurant.

Balaw-balaw Restaurant
Address: Doña Justa Street
Tel. No.: (+632) 651-0110

Blanco Family Museum: Showcasing Generations of Art

One of Angono's most prominent artists is Jose "Pitok" V. Blanco, the patriarch of the famous family of painters. He, his wife, and all his seven children Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, Jan, Gay and Peter Paul, all produce artworks that are so realistic they look like photographs.
places to visit angono
A Patriarch's Request. Pitok Blanco required his children to create a thesis before he grants them  his blessing for a life-changing decision. i.e. getting married. 
The museum is symbolized by a turned-over fish which is locally called Bunggan. The story behind that family emblem dates back to Maestro Pitok's great grandfather Juan's younger years when he was often found having siesta on a fishing boat. Locals then gave him the nickname of Bunggan because he looked like an overturned fish when asleep. (I told you Angonians are imaginative.)

Perhaps the most iconic piece at the museum is Pitok's depiction of Angono's annual pagoda. There are over 200 faces in that painting and all belonged to real people. It took several years for Pitok to complete the obra, for he made individual studies for every face – proven when the museum's staff conducted an archiving of the family's artworks.
By Age. The museum is arranged from the works of the youngest child to the patriarch
Blanco Family Museum has an entrance fee of Php100 for adults and Php75 for children.

Blanco Family Museum
Address: 1312 Ibañez St., Brgy. San Vicente, Angono, Rizal
Tel. No.: (+632) 651-0042

The House of Carlos "Botong" Francisco: Keeping the Heritage of a Hometown Hero

The residential house of Angono's National Artist for Painting now serves as a museum which displays his art materials, awards and commendations – including his National Artist medal –  as well as his personal effects that will give you a glimpse to the inner workings of the grand master.
carlos botong francisco gallery
Fashion Statement. Hats and walking sticks are on display
The front part of the house has been turned into an art house and studio for the works of Botong's grandson Carlos "Totong" Francisco II as well as other local artists.
galleries in angono
Immortal. Another bust of Botong and that of National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro, can be seen in the entryway of Doña Aurora street
The House of Carlos Botong Francisco does not collect entrance fees but would definitely benefit from your donations.

Carlos "Botong" Francisco Second Gallery
Address: Doña Aurora, Poblacion Itaas, Angono, Rizal

Doña Aurora Gallery on the Streets: Making Art Accessible to the Masses

gallery on the streets
Botong's Pageant of Commerce in relief
The street wherein Botong Francisco's house is located has been developed to become what is known as the "Art Gallery on the Streets." A cobbled walkway with walls of relief sculptures flanking the thoroughfare, this free-for-all, open-24/7 exhibit gives "street art" a unique spin.
art gallery on the streets
Detailed rendition of another one of Botong's painting
The reliefs are Botong's masterpieces brought to stone and cement by local sculptors led by Charlie Anorico.

Nemiranda Art House and Atelier Restoran: Nurturing the Artistic Community

Another gallery-cum-restaurant is Nemiranda's Atelier. With the same vibe and good food as Balaw-balaw, Atelier serves as a breeding ground for young artists who want to hone their craft.
atelier restaurant
First Impressions Last. This is just the sidewall of Atelier
Nemiranda himself often does on-the-spot portraits here, and construction for a bed-and-breakfast is underway.
A study of Nemiranda's work about the EDSA Revolution
Nemiranda Arthouse and Gallery
Address: 10 Doña Elena St., Doña Justa Phase I Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Angono, Rizal
Tel. No.: (+632) 651-0109

Tiamson Art Gallery: Bridging the Artistic Gap Between the Young and the Old

Another one of the galleries in Angono is the literal home and studio of Angono's "wonder boy" Orville Tiamson. This place is popular among the younger folks since Orville Tiamson also devotes his time to teaching the next generation of artists through the Regional Lead School for the Arts.
orville tiamson
In the middle. The "wonder boy" himself at his studio.
The gallery is a mélange of paintings, musical instruments, and common household objects – a typical artist's haven. Here, Orville Tiamson often holds what he calls "Art Jams" – a way of learning painting by combining it with music – with whomever is interested.
orville tiamson
Keeping the artistry alive. Orville Tiamson holding a session of Art Jam 
Tiamson Art Gallery
Address: 203 Doña Nieves St., Brgy. Sto. Niño, Angono, Rizal 
Tel. No.: (+632) 651-0066

Yab Design: Creating an Industry of Creativity

yab design
Inside the secret world of Yab Design.
The culture of art in Angono is so strong that it gave birth to a commercial industry in the name of Yab Design. Yab Design is a world-renowned exporter of statues and displays. The products are made of resin and fiber glass and have been used in films as well as in amusement parks.
yab design contact number
World-class displays made of resin and fiber glass
Yab Design is open for tours by appointment.

Yab Design, Inc.
Address: Quezon Ave., Bo. San Isidro, Angono, Rizal
Tel. No.: (+632) 651-1068 / (+632) 651-1095

These are some of the places that serve as locusts for Angono's vibrant culture. Of course, the real artistry can be found alive in its people.

So, when are you coming to Angono? High five!

Celine's Note: This article used to indicate that it was Pitok Blanco who was called bunggan. Corrections to the names of his children have also been made. Thank you, sir Jose Glenn Blanco for the corrections. :)

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