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Higantes Season In Angono, The Art Capital Of The Philippines

Philip Fairbanks

Posted on November 28, 2018 09:53

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I decided to take a trip into the center of art and culture in the Philippines: Angono, Rizal. I showed up just in time, during the lead up to the festive season of Higantes.


For my birthday weekend this year, I decided to take a trip to Angono, art central of the Philippines. Angono is a municipality in the province of Rizal. Rizal itself is named after author and national hero Jose Rizal, and is considered the cultural capital of the Philippines.

Having lived in Manila for several months I had had Angono at the top of my "to visit" list but wasn't expecting the lucky timing I experienced. As it turns out, the weekend I was visiting was the lead up to the Higantes festival. Higantes ("giants") are enormous papier-mâché puppets whose heads are sometimes ten to twenty feet tall. You can find them here and there all year round, but lucky for me, I got the chance to see the yearly Higantes parade.

The Higantes tradition is just over a century old. Initially, it was meant to mock stingy Spanish landlords during the feast of the Patron Saint of the town, San Clemente. In the early 80's Filipino artist Perdigon Vocalan advocated for bringing back the Higantes celebration during the festivities which occurs November 23rd of each year. Vocalan was also the founder of the restaurant and gallery Balaw Balaw.

Balaw Balaw was one of the spots I made sure to check out when I was in Angono. If you're in the area and feeling courageous, you can check out their seasonal menu of exotic items such as Soup #5 whose secret ingredient is bull testicles and penis or kamaro which consists of fried crickets. While I was there I had the rabbit and a delicious plate of hantik (garlic sauteed red ants). They also had uok, coconut grub worms, but I wasn't feeling quite brave enough for that.

Another must see in the area if you're in the mood for great food in a gallery setting is the Nemiranda Arthouse/Atelier Cafe & Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by Nemesio Miranda, the founder of the Imaginative Figurism movement. Both restaurants featured a wealth of art from sketches to sculptures with paintings plastering the walls.

That Friday night I also happened upon the Ginuman festival. Ginuman in previous years had featured a few DJ's but some locals I met told me that this was the first year they had a full lineup of local rock groups. I ended up sitting at a table with soon-to-be friends who made me feel at home and helped make my birthday weekend memorable. It was my first time visiting the art capital of the Philippines, but far from the last.

Philip Fairbanks

Posted on November 28, 2018 09:53

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Source: HuffPost

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