|Our test-drive for the week, the 2020 Kia Sportage GT Line at Carlos "Botong" Francisco's home-museum along Dona Aurora Street in Angono, Rizal.|
|Boundary arch of Angono coming from Taytay.|
As you drive along the narrow roads around Angono, you will realize that the decades-old claim to fame is real and isn’t just sloganeering. And a foray to the revered mecca of art deserves no less than a rolling work of art in itself on its external look, interior aesthetics and comfort, and overall workmanship—the Kia Sportage GT 2020 edition.
|The 2020 Kia Sportage GT Line at the Art Camp, where Nemi Miranda hold his art classes.|
And soon enough we’ll find out that this sleek SUV is an automotive masterpiece, much like the head-turning paintings we were about to see. But that’s getting ahead of the story, so let’s go back to Angono.
This once obscure town takes pride in its hundreds, or perhaps thousands of artists—painters, musicians, sculptors, designers, literary and performing artists, artisans, and others who are indirectly connected with the art industry. It also boasts of having the most number of art galleries and museums in such a small area, that touring and beholding their beauty will take you an entire day.
|Angono Municipal Hall Plaza.|
Oral accounts say that art started early in this town by the Laguna Lake more than 2,000 years ago, evident in the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, an ancient stick figure art in carved the mountain-top rock formations. Tucked in the jagged cliffs of the Eastridge Golf Course, the site is maintained by the National Museum and runs an archaeological museum.
Uncovered in the 1960s by Carlos “Botong” Francisco, one of the town’s pioneer artists while on scouting for a venue to paint, the Petroglyphs is an age-old proof that art has been part of the local way of life for a long time.
|Botong Francisco memorabilia.|
Proclaimed a National Artist for Visual Arts in 1973, Botong is a revered muralist who interpreted the country’s most historic events on canvas, and are now part of prestigious government and private collections. His name is a byword in the Philippine art scene and the inspiration of all painters in Angono and neighboring towns.
|Totong Francisco revealed that his grandfather was also LVN Pictures' production designer.|
Guests can take a glimpse of his glory days with his memorabilia and reproductions of his masterpieces at his home-museum and studio curated by his grandson Carlos “Totong” Francisco II who has his own impressive series of abstract paintings. The narrow road where it is located, Doña Aurora St., has been designated by the municipal government as an “art street” and adorned it with bas sculptures to honor him and Lucio San Pedro, a National Artist for Music.
|Entrance to the Blanco Family Museum|
|Curator, and 2nd generation Michael Blanco with Monch Henares, and the 1957 Triumph TR3A.|
Feast your eyes at the Blanco Family Museum where you can admire the works of the late Jose Blanco’s children—Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, Jan, Gay and Peter Paul, wife Loring, as well as in-laws and grandchildren.
|Michael Blanco giving us a tour of Blanco Family Museum.|
The enormous collection’s centerpiece is the section of its patriarch which depict local events with faces of actual people. A good number features rural genre with the Blanco family as the subjects, most recognizably Blanco in his white sando undershirt.
After the heady tour, catch your breath and sip hot or cold coffee at the museum’s café before moving to another gallery.
|The iconic Nemiranda Art House along Dona Elena Street in Angono, Rizal.|
|World-class artist Nemesio "Nemiranda" Miranda, Jr.|
Nemesio “Nemiranda” Miranda Jr. is another eminent home-grown master who owns the Nemiranda Arthouse and Atelier Galerie, its adjunct Restoran Museo which serves Pinoy favorites, and an accommodation facility. He also has the Artcamp and Tambayan, a spacious riverbank gallery, studio, and camp for visiting artists.
|Art Camp workshop area.|
|Nemiranda is also known for his mermaid sculptures seen around Angono.|
|Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery.|
The resto also pioneered the production of the iconic giant papier maches where the municipal Higantes Festival was named after.
|Minaluto sa Bilao of Balaw-Balaw.|
|Villa Jhoana Resort located along Ibanez Street, Angono, Rizal.|
|Villa Jhoana's grand staircase leading to the guest rooms.|
And if your timing is perfect, you might just chance upon an evening concert by one of the town’s symphonic brass bands.
Beyond art, Angono is also an ideal place to play golf at 18-hole, par 72 Eastridge Golf Course which makes the game more enticing with its panorama of the Laguna de Bay and the metropolitan skyline. Perched on the foot of the Sierra Mountain Ranges, the golf course and the nearby Thunderbird Resort can be accessed through a steep zigzag road which the Kia Sportage can climb effortlessly.
|Sunset view from Eastridge.|
With the timeless appeal of Angono and Kia’s mechanical artistry, art and automotive are indeed universal languages you can speak anywhere on the road.