ART TOWN WITH BIG DREAMS
Local government officials take pride and honor in having Angono as the go-to place not just for art aficionados, but also for municipal and city planners to observe and learn how a small town with meager resources managed to become a model in local governance.
BY MIO GALIT DE LA CRUZ
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIE DAVID
Angono is a quaint little town steeped in customs and traditions, immortalized by National Artist for Visual Arts Carlos “Botong” Francisco in the murals he has painted, depicting the country’s historical milestones and cultural milieus.
Some of Botong’s great works have been inspired by what he witnessed and experienced growing up in Angono, then a rural town where a fiesta in honor of San Clemente was held annually, harana was the way to win a woman’s heart, and bayanihan was fully alive alongside chivalry and gallantry. Indeed, “Fiesta,” “Harana,” and “Bayanihan” are the titles of some of the popular mural paintings of Botong.
Many of the inspiring traditions and scenes witnessed by Botong and other famous artists of Angono may have faded with time, progress, and modernization, but they continue to exist as timeless murals in the streets of Angono—on the walls of major establishments in the Philippines and, more importantly, in the hearts and minds of Filipinos.
Not too long ago, Botong and another favorite son, National Artist for Music, Maestro Lucio San Pedro, were more familiar names across the country than in Angono, their own hometown. The town was known far and wide in the arts circle, but not by the general public, according to old-timers.
The influx of thousands of migrants and new homeowners from neighboring Rizal towns and Metro Manila in recent years provided this once sleepy municipality with a distinct identity and character as the
Art Capital of the Philippines. Real estate developers and marketing gurus began using the term in their sales pitch.
But it was former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who first suggested the title before a crowd of fiesta revelers, and it held fast and firm as naturally as oil on canvas. No formal pronouncement was
ever made. No decree or executive order was signed. Angono assumed the title as if by virtue of divine right.