Gastronomic and Artsy Feast in Angono, Rizal
Nicknamed as “Arts Capital of the Philippines,” Angono is a town in the province of Rizal, just east of Manila. It is located just 30 kilometers east of Manila, to be exact, yet it holds a lot of beautiful things. Angono is famous for Arts, the Higantes sculptures, Petroglyphs, Museums and Galleries, specialty food, among many other things. So if you need a quick escape from Manila’s hustle and bustle, then here are some of the exciting things you can do in Angono.
Top Things to Do in Angono, Rizal
1. Visit the famous Angono Petroglyphs and marvel at an ancient Filipino work of art that dates back to 3000 BC. This cultural heritage site was discovered by by National Artist and acclaimed muralist from Angono, Carlos “Botong” Francisco in 1965 and is famous for its rock engravings, which include 127 drawings of human and animal figures. The site is located at the boundary of Angono and Binangonan in Rizal Province and popularly known as “Angono Cave” and is open Wednesday to Sunday, between 8AM to 5PM. Make sure to bring a point and shoot camera as DSLR are “sometimes” prohibited. You will also be asked to pay a minimal entrance fee of Php20 (Adults) and Php10 (Students and Senior Citizens with valid ID’s) before you can enter the site.
The Angono Petroglyphs site has been included in the World Inventory of Rock Art under the auspices of UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS. It has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure. In 1996, it received its greatest recognition when it was nominated as one of the 100 “Most Endagered Sites of the World” under the World Monument Watch List.
2. It serves dishes not usually served in regular resturants. In fact, Travel and Living Channel’s Andrew Zimmern who hosts “Bizarre Foods” TV program came to the Philippines, Balaw-Balaw is one of the restaurants he featured in his show. Among the exotic food that you may order are fresh wood worms, cow’s balls (Soup number five), white ants and other type of vegetarian worms. fertilized ducks cooked like kamaro (crickets found in rice fields), larva of beetles found in fallen coconut trees, frogs cooked and marinated in wine, and leaves and rose petal tempura. Balaw-Balaw is not just a restaurant, it is also doubles as an art museum where you can view fine art paintings and sculptures of the restaurant owner. His art works are displayed on three floors of the building.
3. Go Museum and art gallery-hopping. There are a lot of art galleries and museums around Angono such as the Blanco Family Museum which is owned by Jose “Pitok” V. Blanco and his family, Nemiranda Arthouse, operated by renowned painter Nemi Miranda who has won various awards and distinctions locally and abroad for his works, Tiamzon Gallery and the residence of the late Carlos “Botong” Francisco.
4. Go around town and have pictures with the Higantes. I am referring to those giant sculptures made of paper-mache that are displayed around Angono. Higantes measures four to five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. It was said that the higantes started during the Spanish colonial times, when Angono was once a hacienda and ruled by Spanish hacienderos. The Angono land tillers way of protesting their struggle is by making giant effigy of their landlords whose hands are usually high up on their waist.
However, the best time to see these Higantes is during the feast of St. Clement (patron of fishermen) when the Higantes Festival is being held. During this time (November 22 to 23 of each year) , people from different places comes here to witness a fluvial parade of Higantes and pahadores (girls dressed in colorful local costumes carrying boat paddles).
5. Camp out at Angono Forest Park, a 1.5-hectare of land with high rising trees and shrubs. This place is a perfect setting for camping and outdoor environmental recreational activities.
6. Learn how to grow Bonsai at Bonsai and Suiseki Garden. Owned by Mr. Rodolfo Reyes, this place features his collection of suiseki (stone view) carefully sculptured through rubbing of bare hands, and different kinds of bonsai plants. Lectures on bonsai making is also available.
7. Go on a retreat. Angono is home to Loyola Retreat House and Vicentian Hills Seminary, which are good venue for retreats, reflections and recolections.
8. Relax, Dine and Play at Thunderbird Resort Rizal, a 41- suite hotel suit offering a scenic view of the Manila Bay and the hills of Sierra Madre surrounding Rizal Province. You can relax in the hotel’s infinity pool or the jacuzzi and afterwards have a sumptuous meal at Koi Restaurant or lounge and drink at the Pool Bar and the Cabana Bar found inside the famous Fiesta Casino. For more information on getting there and day tour rates you may visit their website here: www.thunderbirdresortrizal.com.
9. Play Golf at the well manicured 18-hole golf course called the East Ridge Golf course.
How to get to Angono, Rizal:
Via Public Transport: Take the Angono-bound buses or jeepneys at the Shaw Boulevard (near MRT station) terminal in Pasig. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes to over an hour.
Via Private Vehicle:
Angono is accessible from various points from Metro Manila through the Ortigas Extension Avenue; Manila East Road; Felix Avenue (formerly Imelda Avenue); A. Bonifacio Avenue; Manggahan Floodway; and Sumulong Highway.
If you find the Google map too techy for you, here’s another illustrated map of Angono, Rizal, that I got from the city’s official website.