What is a more fitting venue to start celebrating the National Arts Month than in the country’s branded “Arts Capital”?

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) picked Angono, Rizal as the first among several major host sites for the art expositions and exhibitions slated for the month-long celebration that kicked off at the Rizal Park in Manila last week.

The next venues will be Roxas City, Capiz in the Visayas and Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City, in time for the Xavier University arts festivals, in Mindanao, according to NCCA Commissioner for Film Teddy Co.

Last Friday, Feb. 9, the local government of Angono town in Rizal province set the stage for the initial series of celebrations, in cooperation with the Philippine Information Agency Calabarzon regional office, through the “Kapihan and Media Tour”, where members of the media covering the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon were treated to a round of visits to Angono’s art galleries and museums, as well as to concerts featuring the town’s musical prowess.

Angono is home to two Philippine National Artists–Carlos “Botong” Francisco for Visual Arts and Maestro Lucio D. San Pedro for Music.

NCCA’s Co said aside from Angono’s master art pieces that earned the town the appellation “Arts Capital of the Philippines”, also making the town proud is a cultural treasure known as the Angono Petroglyphs, which dates back from 3,000 years B.C. and is now among UNESCO’s declared “World Heritage Sites”. For this, Angono was named the first UNESCO ASEAN Culture Capital in August 2010.

Co related that the carved stone was formed by the artistic works of the town’s early inhabitants. This, he said, speaks well of Angono as the home of artistic and creative people.

Co said for the nationwide Arts Month celebration, the NCCA committees on architecture, music, dance, literary arts, visual arts, and film, among others, have embarked on their respective flagship projects across the country through exhibits, lectures, forums, galleries, musical and dance presentations, dramatic arts, literature, and poetry readings.

A grand parade of unique “higantes” (giants) or the huge, colorful effigies of young artists and musicians from Angono kicked off the celebrations last Friday. This was mixed with street bands and dances that demonstrated the artistic talents of Angonueños.

Other activities lined up for the festivities are art seminars, painting sessions, and museum and gallery tours, primarily to former house-turned-studio/museum of national visual artist Botong Francisco on Doña Aurora Street in the town’s Barangay Upper Poblacion I.

Residential fences on both sides of the street are bedecked with over a hundred murals and engraved lyrics of Maestro San Pedro’s musical compositions.

There were also concerts featuring San Pedro’s musical masterpieces, as well as an art exhibit titled “Angkla”, showcasing Filipino, primarily Angono’s, visual artists and painters.

Angono tourism officer Bernard Laca said also slated in the month of February in the Arts Capital are simultaneous workshops in visual arts, dance, mobile photo, animation, and creative writing

Also shown on Sunday, Feb. 11, was a concert called “Serenata” (serenade), featuring the compositions of Maestro Lucio San Pedro, especially the popular “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, in time for the master’s 105th birth anniversary. The UP College of Music’s Madrigal Singers, the National Symphonic Band “Banda Uno”, Angono Concert and Youth Bands, and the “Angono Choral Ensemble” gave their respective renditions of the late artist’s timeless music.Friday’s media tour also featured the town’s famous landmarks, the bust monuments of the Angono-born National Artists. The visitors were also made to appreciate the hundreds of artworks displayed at the Blanco Family Museum, owned by the town’s renowned family of painters headed by its patriarch “Tatay Pitok” Blanco.

Laca was thankful to the NCCA for developing the culture and arts tourism of the town.

“Ito ang magsilbing inspirasyon at pagbibigay pitag sa kagalingan ng ating mamayan (This serves as an inspiration and a show of reverence to the greatness of our people),” Laca said.

Orville Tiamson, an Angono artist, visual arts mentor, and owner of the Tiamson Gallery, likewise lauded the NCCA and of the Angono local government’s efforts for staging the arts and cultural activities during the Arts Month in Angono to serve as guide and hope for the town’s budding artists.

Tiamson also called on the young artists of the town not to give up and instead just go on with their works and aspirations, as people will in time appreciate their works not only in Angono but even way beyond this famed creative town. (PNA)