Ang Nuno Gallery

ANG PUNO. Similar with how some places in our country got their names, Angono also stems from its local legend. It is said that when a group Spanish soldiers first came to Angono they found a village ruled by Datu Biga who lived on a hilltop. The villagers referred to their datu as Ang Puno or Ang Nuno. Reporting back to their superiors, the soldiers announced that they had just been to Angono.

Perhaps inspired by this legend, a museum that is located at the 2nd and 3rd floors of famous local restaurant in Angono was named Ang Nuno Gallery.

A GALLERY OF FOLK ART. A tour of this museum actually begins at the restaurant on the ground floor. Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant has been featured in several food and travel shows because aside from serving sautéed ants and crickets, cow butt and testicles in sizzling plate, wood worms and frog cooked adobo style and other equally exotic dishes, it also showcases Filipino heritage through the colorful papier mache, antiques, and artworks by local artists and craftsmen.

PERDIGON VOCALAN. Climbing up the spiral staircase we were led to a repository of Philippine treasures. Displayed are hundreds of paintings and wooden sculptures inspired by Filipino traditions and legends, all created by Angono folk artist Perdigon Vocalan.

Influenced by National Artist Carlos Botong Francisco, Vocalan’s artworks capture Angono’s rich cultural heritage and folklore.

TIME-HONORED KITCHENWARE. Along with the artworks is an impressive collection of antiques and religious objects reflecting the eclectic taste of the artist who built this museum. It ranges from Time-honored Kitchenware like the tapayan hanging over a dining table to a huge, intricately carved wooden door.

RELIGIOUS STATUES. Scattered around the museum are a collection of religious statues including a complete tableau of the Last Supper. We found interesting religious antique pieces like the Santo Entierro and heads of life-sized santos without their corpus.

MINIATURE HIGATES. In addition to being a museum, Ang Nuno Gallery also houses the workshop on the 3rd floor where the colorful mask of the higantes and papier mache dolls are made. While the huge masks were designed for the Higantes Festival, the miniature higantes are made as perfect souvenirs to those who want to bring with them a great example of Filipino folk art.

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Nemiranda

We recently walked into the Nemiranda Arthouse to meet for the first time the artist who has been instrumental in making Angono a household name in Philippine Art. Nemesio Miranda Jr., popularly known in the art circle as Nemiranda, is a highly figurative artist who stands out in the dynamics of realism.

One does not need to be an art critic to appreciate Nemiranda’s works. A common person can be impressed by his mural at the EDSA Shrine, the 20 relief sculpture of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary along the road to Antipolo Church, and monumental sculptures and stunningly beautiful paintings at his home-studio in Angono.

The same exciting feeling as with our visits to Angono a couple of years ago, we remain in awe at the larger than life sirena that arches above the entrance of the art gallery.

This glaring sculptural monument is repeated at the Nemiranda Arthouse in Doña Justa Subdivision and at the defunct Nemiranda Café located along Angono’s main highway.

In the language of the paintings and sculptures we saw in the Nemiranda Arthouse it tells a fascinating story of Angono’s mystic charm and our country’s timeless legends and traditions seen through the eyes of Nemiranda, the storyteller.

But for us, nothing can be more engaging than having to learn about Nemiranda’s journey as an artist and his views about Philippine art but from the artist himself.

A graduate of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, Nemiranda has worked for years, partnering with architects to do monumental sculptures and mural paintings capturing scene depicting local folklore and Filipiniana themes and forms. This projects enabled him to support his family at the same time pursue his art.   

As a painter, he is a master of imaginative figurism or drawing the human form from pure imagination. A veteran of numerous art exhibits, locally and abroad, his favorite subjects are women in mythical characters and families in pastoral scenes.

As a member of his community, Nemiranda has contributed in promoting Angono’s rich heritage such as the Higantes Festival and fluvial procession dedicated to Angono’s patron saint, San Clemente.

Putting up the Nemiranda Arthouse is part of his mission in nurturing the artistic consciousness not just for the people in Angono but for all Filipinos as well.  For years, the arthouse has begun workshops and events designed to inspire the youth who by talking to the artist and watching Nemiranda go through the creative process, might see how an idea can grow into a finished work of art.

Sharing his painting techniques and allowing people to watch him work is never a problem with Nemiranda. For him, no one can duplicate an artist’s work. In fact, an artist must teach those who have the talent and inspire them to create works of art.

The Mermaid Queen of Angono

  

 

There were many reported sightings of mermaids in the waters of Laguna de Bay. One of the most famous sightings of mermaids could be found is in the lakewaters of Angono. 

  

 

According to legend, beneath the lake was an underground palace of mermaids twinkling with various decorations made of pearls and precious gems. When children who swim in the lake disappear, the old folks believed that they have been taken away by the mermaids. 

 

 

 

The story began with the arrival of a stranger to the town. Then one day, this stranger walked towards the lake and disappeared in the waters. The people searched for him but they found no trace of the stranger.  

 

Several days passed when he appeared and told the people about his experience when he entered an underground cavern where a beautiful palace of mermaids is located in deep waters of the lake. He said that all the lost children were there and that they were all happy and safe because the Queen of the Mermaids took care of them.  

 

 

Before he left town, he said that one day, all the lost children would be found so long as their parents took good care of them and were good to them after they were returned by the Mermaid Queen. 

So after he left, a missionary came over. He chose a site for a chapel. It so happened that underneath the chapel was found an underground channel leading to the secret door of the mermaid kingdom. After the first Mass was held, a child was returned by the Queen of the mermaids every night. This she did until all the lost children were recovered.

 

 

The mermaid, seeing that the parents took care of the children, blessed the whole community with abundance in fishing. The town became prosperous through the help of this mermaid.   

In gratitude, the town’s people held a fiesta in her honor. They built pagoda and held a procession on the lake. The town’s people danced on the rafts made out of bancas put side by side. They sang native songs and fed their guests from other villages and towns.  

 

Since then, the people of Angono have faithfully celebrated the mermaid’s fiesta on the lake each year. The mermaid felt very happy over all this. She too kept her promise. Never again has she taken any child bathing on the lake. It is said that she still appears to fishermen of Angono now and then, and they welcome the sight of her.  

 

 

Information source: Grace Odal, Laguna de Bay

 

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Folk Art Museum

After a sense-nourishing and thought-enriching tour to the  Nemiranda ArtHouse and Dona Aurora Street Murals, we decided to have a hunger-satisfying brunch at Balaw-balaw Restaurant and Folk Art Museum.

Balaw-balaw refers to a sauce native to Angono. It is made of fermented shrimp paste mixed with red rice and it is use as a condiment for kare-kare or fish dishes.

With the strong desire to promote the culture of Angono, the late Angono artist Perdigon Vocalan put up the restaurant. The overall design of the restaurant showcases of the town’s culture like the Higates and masks made of papier mache.

More than a restaurant that serves exotic and native Filipino dishes, Balaw-balaw also exhibits the artworks of Vocalan at the second floor gallery. A workshop is located at the third floor where artisans create souvenirs available only at Balaw-balaw.

The restaurant became famous for serving exotic dishes such as the ginataang uok (larva of beetles harvested from coconut) nilasing na palaka (frog marinated in wine), kamaru (crickets), Cow’s balls soup, palos (fresh water eel), bibingkang abnoy (aborted duck eggs served in banana leaves), adobong baboy ramo (wild boar), bayawak (monitor lizard), sawa (python), tapang usa (cured deer meat). However, they stopped serving dishes whose main ingredient are listed under endangered species.

We’re too timid for something exotic, we agreed to have kare-kare and chicken for brunch.

 

Angono Street Murals

Art is synonymous to Angono Rizal. This lakeshore town is home to various art groups, private art museums, restaurants-cum-art gallery and a street lined with murals to honor their homegrown artists: National Artist for painting Carlos “Botong” Francisco, and National Artist for music Meastro Lucio San Pedro. As a town bursting with artistic fervor, it fittingly received its sobriquet as the Art Capital of the Philippines.

Doña Aurora Street in Barangay Poblacion Itaas is  home to the late Botong Francisco. As tribute to this national artist, murals casts in cement were installed on the walls that lined the street. These concrete murals were based on the actual paintings of the Botong Francisco.

We first visited the home of Botong Francisco which also served as his studio. His grandson, Carlos “Totong” Francisco II uses the space to continue his grandfather’s artistic legacy,  naming the art space as The Second Gallery.

Leaving the gallery, we met with Charlie Anorico, the artist who painstakingly traced, molded, and carved the murals along Doña Aurora Street. Charlie cordially invited us to show his works and expressed his admiration to the national artists of his town.

Botong Francisco is the greatest Filipino muralist. He did  research before painting. His mission is to preserve Philippine cultural history from the prehistoric period to the present. From the barrio fiestas and to scenes that form part of the cultural and religious life of the people of country and hometown.

Walking further up the narrow street, Charlie pointed us to a mural he created to honor Maestro Lucio San Pedro. The lyrics and notes one of his famous composition Sa Ugoy ng Duyan (On the Swaying of the Hammock) are inscribed on a wall. San Pedro is known for his “creative nationalism” with Filipino folk songs. He composed “tone poems” and lullabies that extol rural life.

Before leaving Doña Aurora Street, Charlie proudly concluded our walking tour saying, This is Angono, art is everywhere.