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Angono and the modern artistry

“Mahalagang may mabuong identity ang isang tao at mayroon siyang pinanghahawakang ala-ala. At kung ang mga ito ay malilimutan, mahihirapan siyang mahalin ang kanyang bayan dahil wala siyang ala-ala dito.” 

As one of the centers of Philippine Art, Angono has shaped itself to fit a new generation of artists raised in the age of modern technology.

Known as the ‘Cradle of Philippine Art’, Angono gave birth two of the country’s National Artists, muralist Carlos ‘Botong Francisco’ and composer Maestro Lucio San Pedro.

Such were the feats of its people that Angono became synonymous with Philippine art, that then-Mayor Gerry Calderon proposed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo their town be recognized as the country’s Art Capital for its contributions. 

From the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs and the Street Murals along Doña Aurora Street, it cannot be denied that art is the crowning glory of Angono and the artistry of its people runs deep, even before written history. 

Center of Philippine Art

The people of Angono continue to push for their town to be recognized as one of the centers of Philippine art.  

“Sining ang ipinagmamalaki ng aming bayan, kaya naman naging pangalan namin iyon kahit walang pormal na deklarasyon.” said Professor James Owen Saguinsin of the Angono Cultural Heritage Office. 

Creativity was so potent among its people that entire families, such as the Blanco family of painters led by their patriarch Jose ‘Pitok’ Blanco, were involved in a craft or two. 

“Hopefully, madagdagan pa ito at makilala ang aming bayan bilang isa sa mga sentro ng sining.” Saguinsin said. 

Support for artists

Unlike professions in the sciences, being an artist in the Philippines is not a very illustrious career choice. 

Even worse, they suffered the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic after museums and galleries were shuttered.

To cushion its effects, the Municipal Government launched the P200,000-‘Higanteng Ayuda’ program to support the needs of local artists. 

It also launched the Angono Arts Congress to provide an avenue for local artists to showcase their work and be heard by the municipal government. 

Art tourism 

Slowly but surely, Angono is recovering from its losses. Aside from the reopening of local galleries, preparation for the return of Higantes Festival is underway which will surely attract tourists from all over the country. 

The Municipal Government also recently opened the NONÓ Museum of Art History to provide elementary and high school students uninhibited access to art appreciation lessons. 

With the celebration of National Arts Months this February, the Municipal Tourism Office launched jam-packed activities such as contests on poetry writing and painting contests for elementary and high school students. 

“Iba kasi ‘yung maexperience nila yung artwork na hindi nila nakukuha sa loob ng classroom. Paglabas ‘nyo ng Angono, iba na ang pananaw nyo sa art appreciation at culture.” 

New generation of artists

Saguinsin believes that a new and diverse generation of National Artists is on the horizon. 

Gone were the days when artists were confined to painting on canvases and plain walls. Technology has allowed visual artists to cross to digital art that is widely appreciated by the younger generation.

The municipal government continues to support local galleries and museums to give the younger generation a chance to immerse themselves in the masterpieces their parents grew up with, an assurance that despite the changes of time, Botong Francisco’s studio and the Blancos’ home remain open for generations of artists — old and new. (PB) 

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Patricia Bermudez

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