Saturday, February 25, 2012

Exploring Artsy Angono

Ahhh, look at the date, February is almost over. But I'm not letting it pass without talking about my trip to the Arts Capital of the Philippines -- Angono Rizal., after all, February is National Arts month.

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Photo Courtesy of Backpackingpilipinas: Janet, Kidd and Cha inside the tunnel going towards the Angono Petroglyphs

The original plan was a visit to my hometown. Che, being the traveler that she is, was interested in going to Tanay. I agreed to show her around and some of my friends. In fact it had been a long uncrossed item on our 2012 (supposedly 2011) checklist. I, on the other hand had been meaning to go to Angono. I skipped my History of Arts educational field trip there because of my previous work and I thought, I'd just go on my own when I have the time. So the free time came (I actually just insisted to include it in the itinerary, I don't have the guts to go all alone), just in time for the Arts Month celebration!

By the way, I just want to make it clear that I rarely go out, so even though I'm a RizaleƱo, I haven't really explore most of Rizal municipalities. I had a little bit of knowledge how to get there. I knew there are PUVs from Starmall and EDSA Central going to Binangonan, and that's the first option. But we met at Che's place and taking PUJ's from her place was a more convenient option (because the loading area was closer) so we took that. My problem with passenger jeeps though, is, first being exposed to the fresh (insert sarcasm here) air of Metro Manila. Second, drivers with attitude. I do not know if this thing is unique to jeepney drivers in Rizal, but really, they are the worst! I am not gonna list the details of my unpleasant experiences whenever I end up taking the jeep going to work because I missed the last passenger van (it deserve a separate post), but one thing I'd point out is their selfishness. They just decide to change route when they want to even if they have to bypass a drop point. I understand there are circumstances that led them to change route (like heavy traffic), however, they should consider passengers who needed to get down to the drop point they're bypassing. Anyway, the driver of the jeep we took did that. We were not affected, some passengers were, but the driver seemed to be in a big hurry that he forgot that I asked him to drop us in Angono. We were first timers, hello? He promised he would, but he ended up forgetting it. Thank goodness there were concerned citizens who warned us that we missed the drop point. In fairness to the driver, he felt sorry that he returned P8 for each person so we can take another jeep to take us to Angono. Which proved to be unnecessary, we were supposed to get down at the market and it was just a 5 minute walk from the point the driver dropped us.

So the drop point is the public market of Angono, which also borders Binangonan Rizal. We had breakfast at Chowking. I was in queue for order taking when I noticed the cashier machine labeled "Chowking Binangonan". I got confused (and worried) so I asked the cashier and she nicely explained the border thing. While eating, Janet asked around to get directions to the Angono Petroglyphs (the directions I got from the internet were rather vague). Ironically, some of the locals have no idea what we were asking. I mean, the Petroglyphs, the oldest known work of art in the Philippines, is the first thing that comes up when I googled Angono. But the people were very nice in giving ideas what to check like the galleries and the Blanco Family museum, one even muttered that if she had nowhere else to go she'd take us to the city hall. So anyway, our adventure in Angono began!

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Our first stop was the city hall, the people we've asked recommended it. They said it has an art gallery and we won't have to pay anything to check it. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, the building interior was being repainted, the paintings were temporarily stored in the municipal gym which was closed. Being an art capital though, artworks are all over the building. It's definitely a town of artsy people.

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The Municipal Bulletin Board takes the shape of a palette

Angono is also the home of Higantes (giant dolls) festival. I've never been to one, but the city hall stores some higantes so I'm imagining it's a parade of these giant dummies. Higantes by the way are made of paper mache and are influenced by Mexican art.

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Look! One of the higantes got caught up in mobile gaming trend! Ugh the "save a trees" and "hug a trees" print gave me a massive headache (OA lang)!

The next stop is the church. On our way there, we passed by a street with a line of mural relief sculptures on both sides of the road. The murals are based on the works of Angono's homegrown national artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco. It was amazing!

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We were so enthralled by the line of murals, we got a little careless and experienced a minor mishap. Well, Cha specifically did. While walking, her right leg slip into a gap of sewer covers. Awww poor Cha. If you're planning on visiting this place, be careful y'all. Always watch your footsteps. What's heartwarming about it was, when her leg got stuck between the gap, the locals immediately came to help. Very nice people, God bless them.

There's something frustrating about the place though. This is the art capital and I imagine that people incorporate art in their everyday living, but I also imagine that they do not take it for granted. When I see a bike leaning or wet clothes hanging on some of the murals, I felt that the artworks are being taken for granted. I don't find them disrespectful, it's probably their way of showing that art is part of their lives, but show some care, the artists didn't make these murals overnight.

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So anyway, we went to the church to rest a little and of course, pray. A stop at the church is always part of a trip.

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St. Clement's Parish Church

Our next stop is the Blanco Family Museum. It's just a five minute walk from the church. The Blanco Family, headed by the late Jose "Pitok" Blanco is a family of artists. Everybody paints! The museum houses artworks of the whole family. The entrance fee for adults is P70, but Che haggled, stating that she's a travel blogger and that she advocates promotion of tourism and promised to promote the museum in her blog, which are all true, but I never thought that you can use that as an excuse to get a discount. The lady guide was very nice to grant the discount, we paid P50 each instead.

So anyway she guided us through the most part of the tour. She's really nice and she had immediate answers to our questions. I feel bad I didn't get her name. The amazing thing about this family is, even tough only Pitok Blanco had formal education on Fine Arts, everybody in the family ended up becoming full time artists. Even the grandchildren are practicing arts too. The family has one style, realism. Mostly depicts life and culture of Filipinos. It would be interesting to see any from the grand children deviate to another movement hehehe.

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A family that paints together, stays together!

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The obligatory group picture with the Master's most notable work, "Fiesta sa Angono", there are hundreds of people in this painting and all are actual residents of Angono

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Some of the works of the family

We were also lucky to have met one Pitok's sons, Michael. He showed us around the garden and showed the current project he's working on. He's also teaching arts at the school across the museum. He's a really nice guy.

There's a section in the museum that showcased other artworks outside the family and perhaps the grand children's works too. We just don't have the time to ask question for every painting we see.

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After the museum, we set on our way to Angono Petroglyphs. This was probably the hardest part of the trip because it's located on top of the mountain, it's a challenge to get there when you do not have your own vehicle. The direction I saw on the internet is that you have to wait for a pick up truck to hitch on, but again, we don't have the time to wait (and I thought that sounds risky too). We had to haggle with the trike driver to take us there. We had to take 2 trikes and we paid 100/person. The way to get there was developed and is now a subdivision, you actually need a permission to pass by. Che, once again used being a "travel blogger" as an excuse to the security guard. The poor officer had no idea what a blogger is, but when I explained it, it sounded like we're some kind of journalists who are about to feature the Petroglyphs in an online newspaper. Sometimes, using jargons can make you get what you want hehehe.

A side trip from the past, I remember the road, a memory from my childhood. I'm pretty sure I've passed by this road and seen this view before.

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Overlooking view of Metro Manila

We have relatives who used to live in Antipolo. My dad's younger brother, Tito Nick. At the time, his family was the closest relatives we know from my father's side, in location and relation. I remember being taken to the movies by Tito Nick and his wife Tita Ruby together with my cousin Aisa and my sister Pipay. We saw "Patched Adams" in Sta. Lucia mall, great movie. On our way home from Cainta, we passed by this road and I remember my uncle explaining that this is the highest peak in Rizal. I was so amazed with the lights of the city, they were just like the pictures in the magazine that I kept and dreamed of going to someday. It was really beautiful at night.

Going back to the Petroglyphs, so the tricycle dropped us at the entrance, which looked rather weird because nobody was there. The place looked deserted. But that was it, that's the farthest the trike can take us.

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Photo courtesy of Maja Dera

We had to go through a tunnel then hike our way to the Petroglyphs. It's not much, just a little patience and every hardship is rewarded accordingly.

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I was here!!!

The Angono Petroglyphs is the oldest known work of art in the Philippines. The carvings on the rockwall dating back to 3000 BC depicted human and animal figures. The tour guide explained that it was believed that people did not inhabit the area, there were no evidences to prove that. The experts' theory is that early people used the place to worship and offer sacrifices. I remember my professor in History of Arts, who organized taking the class to Angono (which I skipped), wanted to challenge us, if after seeing the carvings, we'd think if it's really the oldest work of art in the Philippines. I dare not defy the experts but I'm sure there are more (probably older) to discover.

The rockwall was declared as a national treasure in 1973. Hence, the area had been protected and spared from the urban development, thank God! The place is a great site for meditation or bird watching. We were lucky to spot a Philippine Eagle-Owl!

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Photo courtesy of Cha, Oh hello cutie! In case you go here and you see one, remember to stay quiet and do not use flash when taking picture, it'll scare the poor creature

And now, another challenge is getting out. Because we were going to Tanay after, the trike drivers recommended taking the Antipolo exit. The problem is we have to walk. At first it didn't seem like a problem, the driver explained it in a way that made us believe that from the petroglyphs drop, it's just a few walk to the Antipolo exit. But it's a whole different story when we got there. This was happening high noon. I would like to think that the picture of four ladies on top of a mountain exposed to the intense glimmer of the sun is not right. But these inconveniences are all part of the adventure and I guess it makes everything more fun (in the Philippines, LOL). But here's the real fun part. In the end we had to follow the direction I saw from the net, to hitchhike on a pickup truck, the exit was just too far. I am in no way recommending to hitchhike as I believe that it's a risky measure, specially when you're alone. But I guess doing it in groups, is safe, specially in high noon.

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Hitchhiking? More fun in the Philippines!

There are still many galleries and places of interest to check in Angono Rizal that we missed because we had to make time for Tanay (which I'll talk about in a separate post). But I really enjoyed this trip. If you want to spend a day for a historical and cultural exploration, I highly recommend it!

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One last obligatory group pic -- Kidd, Janet, Cha and Che

1 comment:

Che said...

eeek, nahiya ako bigla! haha pero classic kidd post to -- long at descriptive. nice one kidd! :)