Angono is known as the ‘Art Capital of the Philippines’ because it is the only town, despite its small geography and population, which has produced and home to two National Artists namely Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco for Painting and Prof. Lucio San Pedro for Music.
While there is no formal or legal document from the national government in which this claim stands, former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo verbally recognized Angono with this identity during her speech and visit in 2004.
A resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan in 2004 also requested President Arroyo to issue an executive order recognizing Angono as Art Capital but to this date, no legal document has been done.
For its part, the Municipality of Angono led by Mayor Gerardo Calderon used the “Art Capital of the Philippines” for branding purposes, like what marketing and public relations officers do in their promotional activities.
Mayor Gerry has likewise honed the town’s tourism industry and promotion by anchoring it on Angono’s rich art and cultural heritage, a program which merited a Gawad Galing Pook Award in 2003 for its innovation and sustainable implementation.
Angono boasts of more than 500 painters alone, excluding other artists such as musicians, writers, video and film editors, theater people, craftsmen, and church-based heritage and cultural workers.
The town traces its artistic roots to Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, the oldest rock art in the Philippines.
It, however, considers Spanish era artists Juan Senson and Pedro Piñon as roots of artistry, who inspired Botong and San Pedro and the succeeding generation of Angono artists.
Art galleries and museums as well as studios of individual artists abound, which have become favorite places among local and international guests visiting the town, particularly the Blanco Museum, Nemiranda Art Haus, Botong’s Studio and Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Folk Art Museum.
Angono also celebrates seven festivals and festivities throughout the year, notably the Higantes Festival every November and the Feast of St. Clement, the town’s patron saint.
Angono likewise has six artists groups based in the community and schools led by its two oldest groups Angono Ateliers Association and Angono Artists Association, 11 marching bands, three symphonic ensembles, three community-based theater groups, six chorale groups including those in schools, a writers group, three community newspapers, and an exclusive school for the arts whose students are from Angono and Rizal province.
ASEAN Culture Capital
The Philippines was recognized as the ‘cultural capital’ of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2010 and 2011.
As the first country given this distinction in the 10-member association of countries in the region, the Philippines hosted in 2010 the ministerial and experts meeting on culture and arts (AMCA-SOMCA) and the 4th ASEAN Festival of the Arts held in March 2011.
With the theme “The Best of the ASEAN,” the National Commission for Culture and the Arts-led festival showcased what the member-countries considered to be their best such as performance, book, art exhibit, film, among others.
In August 2010, Angono, Rizal was the sixth locale highlighted as focal site in celebration of the Philippines as ASEAN Culture Capital.
During the program, the concept of Angono Artists Village was launched, in which the community was envisioned to provide residency for underprivileged and deserving Filipino artists as well as multipurpose venue for art workshops, performances and residency programs.
Angono also witnessed the countdown to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Review Summit with UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Jacqui Badcock as special guest.
The inaugural event of ASEAN Culture Capital campaign was held in Angeles, Pampanga. Other sites that hosted were the province of Capiz, Santiago City in Isabella, the province of Batangas, and the province of Bohol.