Archive for angono

all in the family, all in the community

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, locales, people with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2009 by mijodo

jose blanco's portraiture of his family members praying

Picture this: a maestro for a father tutoring his seven kids on sunday afternoons on the skill of drawing using simple plywood as canvass and oil pastel as medium. Imagine this: the mother who had initially attended to  aficionados as probable buyers for her husband and children’s artwork started to create her own art at a mature age.

At first, I thought the Blanco family‘s reputation may have been caused by the peculiarity of having the whole brood making artistic expression altogether as Filipinos may find the whole idea fascinating and endearing.  But upon touring the Blanco museum, and passing through circuitous passageways full of murals and detailed portrayals of life whether in pastoral Angono or in Communist China where the whole family had been invited in the 80s, then I get to realize that their art is truly legitimate not just brought about by a heartwarming oddity.

It  just so happened that Jose Blanco was able to instill to his whole family his passion, discipline and academic knowledge of fine arts. And it was no surpise that his son Michael, recalled how his father had also been given pointers  by Angono’s own –  National Artist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco ( In due time Jose Blanco’s tutelage of his family  was expanded in putting up an art academy for the people in the municipality to discover artistic talent.

Now the  Blanco kids are manning the school and passing the art baton on. Truly, in this community, it takes giants to create even more giants.

land of the other giants

Posted in artifacts, culture, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2009 by mijodo

relief mural translation of botong francisco's painting on the "cry of pugadlawin" by bonifacio as depicted by the artists of angono 

The “higantes” may give some color to the festivities of Angono, but it is the native cultural luminaries who are the true giants of this Rizal town. In fact, two of them have been conferred the honors of becoming National Artists.

One cultural treasure is the musical composer and professor Lucio San Pedro. He (together with lyricist Levi Celerio) created the haunting lullaby “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, and folksy song “Ang Pipit.” 

Another cultural genius from Angono is Carlos “Botong” Francisco. His works dwell much on Filipino history and  traditions. He created masterpieces such as “Muslim Wedding” and  “Bayanihan” (this one was commissioned by Filipino Drug Corporation – Unilab).

The people from Angono have been so proud of Francisco such that the young artists of this generation paid homage by translating his pieces into relief murals along Aurora Street where his house stands. Perimeter walls of residential homes have been used as canvasses.  Thus the street has become a virtual museum where everyone can sense Francisco’s artistry and patriotism.

It is just appropriate that the other youth of this country should look up to such men who created culturally elephantine works and stood tall in the process.

land of the giants

Posted in artifacts, locales, people with tags , , , , on November 26, 2008 by mijodo

here come the giants

Every November 22 to 23, the giants of Angono, Rizal gather once more to participate in the revelry of the town fiesta for San Clemente. Made from either fiberglass, plastic resin or the traditional papier mache, characters whether in human form or otherwise, are proppped up and paraded along the main streets of the town right beside Laguna de Bay. The ten to twelve foot colorful “higantes” (giants) are products of this town’s indigenous folk culture. Some higantes depict the family in folk costumes from the parents down to the grandchildren. Some are familiar entertainment creatures such as Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing of Sesame fame. And since Angono is both pastoral and bayside, naturally gigantic carabaos, humongous shrimps, and even enormous ducks are presented as well.

Many say that the Higantes Festival evolved from the tyranny of the farmlords during the Spanish Colonial Era. The oppressed farmhands created the first higante form, symbolic of their tormentor, and displayed it along the dusty roads, and mocked it through some finger pinching (in a way, a mild form of revenge (higante’) – which tagalog translation of the word could also be another origin of this tradition).

Totie Argana, one of the participants who have created many of these Higantes in many years, surmised nothing sinister nor dark about the beginnings. He avers that such forms were akin to the western farmlands’ scarecrows, utilized to shoo away birds during the Spanish regime. Michael, family member of the notable Blanco family, traced the higantes history to a more recent era – right after the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s. Just to perk up the interrupted (because of the world war) tradition of the town fiesta, giant mannequin forms were developed, and were proven to make the San Vicente Festival most colorful and exciting.

But it was through the initiative of restaurateur-painter, Mr. Perdigo Vocalan who called the attention of Department of Tourism, and made the Higantes Festival as important as the other festivals around the country. It was just as swell that miniature higantes (a paradox, isn’t it) are scattered among the many folk arts in his famous Balaw-balaw Restaurant as shown by daughter-in-law and resto manager, Luzvimin Vocalan.

The Higantes Festival only illustrates the genteel yet passionate character of the people of Angono where the people’s artistry is made even more siginificant by the town’s actual giants and geniuses.