Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
THE municipality of Angono in Rizal is considered the Arts Capital of the Philippines, and as such, is home to many Filipino artists—young and old, living and departed, aspiring and flourishing.
Among its long list of artists, Carlos “Botong” Francisco (1912-1969) remains to be the most celebrated painter. In 1973, he was posthumously named a National Artist, which is the highest honor the Philippine government bestows to Filipino artists.
“Carlos “Botong” Francisco, the poet of Angono, single-handedly revived the forgotten art of mural and remained its most distinguished practitioner for nearly three decades. In panels such as those that grace the City Hall of Manila, Francisco turned fragments of the historic past into vivid records of the legendary courage of the ancestors of his race,” writes the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the state institution that oversees the National Artist Award.
That is why when visiting the quaint and little Rizal town, it is a must to familiarize oneself with Botong Francisco, and enrich one’s knowledge on Philippine culture and arts.
Doña Aurora St. in Barangay Poblacion Itaas is the best place to start because there, the Francisco residence still stands and now serves as museum and gallery.
It is also called the Mural Street because the walls of the houses are sculpted with Francisco’s murals. According to Michael Blanco of the Blanco Family Museum, the concrete sculptures, made by Charlie Anorico, pay homage to Francisco.
In its recent tour of Angono, Traveling Journo Ph visited the Francisco residence through the courtesy of the late National Artist’s grandson, Carlso “Totong” Francisco 2nd.
See a snippet of the life of Botong Francisco through this virtual tour:
This very space was Botong Francisco’s studio where he mastered his craft.
A different perspective of the studio.
At the house’s second floor hangs old photographs of the late National Artist.
The citation that posthumously conferring the National Artist Award to Botong Francisco on June 12, 1973.
The limited edition post stamp in celebration of Francisco’s Birth Centennial in 2012 (right photo). The original National Artist Medal (left photo).
Many of the artist’s personal items are displayed in the residence including his old camera (he also had a knack for photography), old books, bags and shoes, and of course, his paintbrushes.
Meet Carlos “Totong” Francisco 2nd, Botong’s grandson who was the only one in the family
to follow his footsteps in visual arts.
Totong told TJPh that he eventually broke away from the influence of his grandfather and Angono’s realist genre in general. As result, he developed his personal abstract style.
Some of his most recent works still to be framed and hung on the wall.
“Burgeoning” (acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48, 2016)
The residence is also called “The Second Gallery” because it is where Totong mainly exhibits his artworks.
Make sure to drop by the Francisco residence in your next trip to Angono!