The Walks of Kulot


The Art Capital of the Philippines

When I was still in elementary I joined our school’s Art Club and as part of our art appreciation class we had an exposure trip to the town of Angono. Later did I know during my last visit, that Angono was actually the Philippines’s Art Capital. A lot of local artists such as Botong Francisco, Nemiranda and Jose Blanco have built their own art houses in Angono which also serve as their exhibition space for their paintings, sculptures and art installations.

Life-size sculptures installed in one of the art galleries in Angono.

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery

Not to be missed when visiting the town of Angono is the Balaw-Balaw Restaurant. The eccentric restaurant might be a bit strange because dozens of hanging masks with arrogant looking-expressions are suspended in the ceiling which made the restaurant look like a tree of masks. But what’s more strange is the menu that Balaw-Balaw offers. Different exotic dishes such as Soup No. 5 (Cow butt and balls), Bibingkang Abnoy (cake made from unfertilized egg with a rotten smell), Uok (beetle larvae), Kamaru (crunchy crickets), frog legs and a lot more are being served in the restaurant. But if you’re not adventurous enough to try these stuff you can always opt for local Filipino dishes which never fails to satisfy the palate.

Things to do at Balaw-Balaw restaurant and art gallery: Try-out their exotic dishes, appreciate (or if you have funds) purchase paintings or sculptures made by local artisans and paint your own higante figurine.

Balaw-Balaw restaurant interior. *Notice the hanging masks

Balaw-Balaw was built through the initiative of the late Perdigon Vocalan who is an Angono artist himself. The restaurant also houses an art gallery where local artists show their paintings and sculptures. Bust sculptures of different religious icons can be found on the second floor of the art gallery which includes the complete set of the Last Supper. On some occasions, the restaurant also serves as a venue for art classes initiated by a group of Angono artists to harness the artistic skills of the youth participants.

Wooden sculptures at the gallery's second floor.

A lot of sculptures in the art gallery are religious icons like the bust sculpture of Jesus Christ pictured above.

Sto. Entiero: Life Size image of the dead Christ.

Colorful recycled plastic bottles made into plant containers.

The Higantes Festival

The town of Angono is also known for the Higantes Festival which the town celebrates every 23rd of November in honor of San Clemente. Colorful higantes (giants) made from paper mache which measures ten to twelve feet in height are being paraded and danced on the street as a symbol of merrymaking which marks the start of the town fiesta. The festival was actually the idea of Mr. Vocalan, the owner of Balaw-Balaw restaurant to encourage more tourists to visit the town.

Giant paper mache higante masks.

The higantes are characterized having an arrogant-looking facial expression (mostly male) with their hands on the hips. Wondering why? This tradition started during the Spanish era when the town of Angono was headed by arrogant Spanish hacienderos who prohibited any form of celebration. As a way to make fun of them without them knowing, the townspeople of Angono created an effigy of Spanish landlords as a way of mocking them.

Make your miniature higante

If you want to bring home a souvenir from Angono, why not make your own miniature Higante? Balaw-Balaw restaurant offers its guests to create and paint their own mini higantes for a fee of P250.00. They have a work station where you can paint and recreate what the town is famous for!

The work station at the third floor of the Balaw-Balaw art gallery. This is also where giant masks used during the Higantes Festival are stored.

Miniature Higantes for sale. P250.00 each. *I think you can still bargain

You can paint decorate your own mini higantes at the Balaw-Balaw restaurant and art gallery.

Found this wooden puppet carved by Angono artisans.

How to get to Angono, Rizal:

Take an FX or jeepney in SM Megamall or Edsa Central (Crossing) going to Angono.

Visit this website:

But it’s better to bring your own car so you can go visit all the art galleries in town and visit the Angono Petroglyphs.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Went to Angono one time to visit these places, but no one knew where they were. Dami naming tinanungan, kahit yung pulis. I think there should be an info campaign even for the locals kasi kahit di nila alam ang points of interest sa town nila.

Anyway, thanks for the post and info. I really should go and visit. But I don’t think I have the balls to try the bull’s balls, haha! And thanks for shedding light on the history of the Higantes Fest. Nice blog!

Comment by AJ

Hi Sir AJ!

I have to agree with what you have said. I think the local government of Angono should be more aggressive in promoting its town. Sayang naman it’s supposed to be the Philippine’s Art Capital pero parang kaunti nalang nakakaalam. Anyway, should you plan to visit next time I think you should also drop by the Angono Petroglyphs. It’s managed by the National Museum so I think it’s more visitor-friendly since they have a tourism desk in the area. Thanks again for visiting my blog and I am also looking forward to your future posts.

Comment by walksofkulot

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