*Last Friday I joined my first field trip in years and went to a couple of museums in Rizal with my home org DLSU PILOSOPO. Thanks for organizing this trip and being a part of this day, everyone!
Passing down the paintbrush
After taking out breakfast at McDonald’s Taft at around 7 in the morning and roughly two hours on the road, the urban highways and billboards took a change in scenery into smaller houses with large plantations at their backyards. We made our first stop in Blanco Family Museum in the humble and colorful town of Angono, the Art Capital of the Philippines. Large statues of fish, carabao, and other local symbols were spread throughout the streets of the municipality home to national artists Botong Francisco and Lucio San Pedro, Angono is also home to three generations of a family of artists.
From patriarch Jose Blanco, who never attained formal training in the arts, to his seven children, who all started painting under his guidance and instruction at the tender ages of three; they built this gallery from the ground up to house the family’s works and to commemorate his works. They managed to produce highly professional traditional paintings, all sharing the Filipino’s way of life as a common subject matter, preserved usually in oil on even some larger than life pieces. Taking cue from the greats like Rembrandt, they captured aspects of local culture, history, and their individual experiences using techniques in classical art in great detail.
Jose passed on his work ethic to his children and their children, since then solidifying the value of perseverance and a love for art. With just the foundational principles of primary and secondary subjects, dark to light contrasting, and color temperatures, they explored and developed their methods throughout time; however, always maintaining Filipino still life as a strict theme to treasure national culture.
Mythos and minaluto
We found ourselves taking shelter from the light noontime drizzle at Nemiranda Art House just a few minutes away. With its dark wood interior built from old recycled materials like bamboo and old church debris, hundreds of hand painted figurines and paper mache art hung from its ceiling to its walls. With little cobwebs, dust, and anting-anting adding to its eerie charm, the place is an acquired taste. Its floors are wood alternating from lovely old colorful tiles lining the entire place and some of its parts are under constant reconstruction. More importantly it houses bits and pieces from its founder, Nemiranda’s collection, a forerunner in Imaginative Figurism. Known as the House of Myth, the art depicts mystic legends and local folklore.
Just down the street, almost like an extension of the previous museum was Balaw Balaw Restaurant, which doubles as a restaurant and gallery serving local dishes. With two orders of the speciality dish, Minaluto, which was good for 8 and just enough for 14 hungry stomachs, we feasted on a platter of four kinds of rice, topped with a variety of ulam all laid out on a large banana leaf. Satisfying our sweeter cravings over glasses of refreshing green mango, buko, and calamansi juice, the lunch was a simple yet significant meal in celebration of Angono’s food delights. (Except for the part where three hungry, large cats joined us for lunch and if you know me well, I’m terrified of cats 😓 so I ate in a bench away from the rest of the group huuhuu)
Green, white, photogenic
About half an hour into Antipolo until we entering the gated estate and cactus-vine walled property where the instafamous Pinto Art Gallery was located. “You wouldn’t think we’re in the Philippines anymore,” my classmate whispered to me holding up her camera. I beg to differ because the place (I keep referring to it as an estate haha) has hispanic Filipino influences even in its predominantly white architecture. It just seems like a getaway from the dirtier, not well maintained spots Filipinos are accustomed to, but with great care and sufficient funding, it’s a no brainer that more places could look like this. The gallery gained its popularity over Instagram in the last two years, as one of Metro Manila’s most photographed and frequented dating places. I, on the other hand, was glad to have spent my first trip here with classmates and girl friends who were just as interested in the aesthetics of the place.
Well photographed and even better to visit in person especially on an overcast day, the museum houses a large range of local art with well landscaped gardens and greenery. We even spotted a prenuptial photo shoot taking place that afternoon and I couldn’t help but feel bad for the bride-to-be’s gown dragging all over the soil. After two and a half hours of nonstop picture-taking, we had our merienda in the cafe beside the museum shop and the margherita pizza to share is all I can recommend.
By half past 4 in the afternoon, we headed into the van and bid Rizal goodbye. Surprisingly faster than the anticipated Friday afternoon traffic flow, it was a sleepy ride back to home base in Manila. It was nearing a violet sunset😍, a good local art-filled day when I woke up on a little jam on Kalayaan bridge and got off a gas station to head home.