"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

getting to know the angono petroglyphs in binangonan

"History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard.
It is a poem with events as verses."
--Charles Angoff

9th of june 2012
history, culture, and art appreciation day on a june 2012 saturday
a day for seeing the angono-binangonan petroglyphs (in binangonan, rizal) and visiting balaw balaw specialty restaurant and art gallery (in angono, rizal) among other things (like an afternoon drive and a nighttime drive through very slow moving traffic)

the angono-binangonan petroglyphs: the earliest pre-historic rock art in the philippines

many, many, many, many years ago (read: around 3000-2000 B.C.), somewhere in the elevated portion of what-eventually-got-referred-to (at some point, at least) as the common boundary of angono, binangonan, and antipolo of rizal province, human and animal-like figures were engraved on a wall of massive rock.  defined by an overhang and a shallow cave-like opening, the rock had volcanic origins and its surface was soft enough, chipping upon contact with tougher materials, but the wall as a whole remained resistant enough to preserve carved patterns with the passing of the ages.

the angono-binangonan petroglyphs: pre-historic rock art

for a long, long time, the existence of pre-historic rock engravings in rizal province, the cradle of philippine art, were not part of the public's attention. this changed in 1965 when carlos "botong" v. francisco, the renowned muralist from angono, rizal, reported to the national museum what he and a group of boy scouts discovered during a field trip  --  "a cave with drawings of a primitive quality."

the cave turned out to be a rock shelter and the drawings became known as the angono petroglyphs, with petroglyphs being the apt term for the 127 pre-historic carvings scattered on the 63-meter wide wall of ancient rock. in 1973, the site was declared as one of the philippines' national cultural treasures by virtue of presidential decree no. 260.

site of a natural cultural treasure | part of the 63-meter wide wall of the rock shelter

how to get there

according to the national museum's archeological sites and branch museums division (ASBMD) page for  the angono petroglyphs, "There are three two-hour routes from Manila to Rizal province. The northern route runs from Caloocan City to Marikina City. The middle route runs from EDSA to Pasig. The southern road passes through the town of Parañaque." 

for commuters, the blogspot of binangonan tourist attractions has this: "Take a metro bus, taxi or jeepney to EDSA/Crossing or the Farmer’s Market in Cubao, Quezon City and proceed to the jeepney or FX terminal within the shopping area. These vehicles are bound separately for Antipolo, Taytay, Cainta, Binangonan, Angono, and Tanay." once in binangonan, hire a trike... but... but... the roads going to the site of the petroglyphs are steep! check first with the driver if his trike can make it -- some can, most can't.

to get to the angono petroglyphs, our trio -- kat, bren, and i -- followed the directions shared by supernormalgirl. very, very useful! :)

the landmarks we saw along the way which assured us that we were on the right track
(1) angono, art capital of the philippines and home of the higantes festival
(2) the angono marker in brgy. san isidro (3) just after the guard station along east ridge avenue
(4) the pretty tunnel leading to thunderbird resorts and casino, and
(5) the motorpool garage of the eastridge golf club

coming from the welcome tunnel of thunderbird and eastridge along east ridge avenue and col. guido road, there is an "angono-binangonan petroglyphs" marker on the left side. 

the marker along east ridge avenue-slash-col. guido road

just follow the direction of the yellow arrow leading to a dirt track. the motorpool garage of eastridge golf club is just nearby and the site of the petroglyphs is just a short walk away -- through a tunnel, around a bend, and along a straight path to the building of the binangonan branch of the national museum.

the oldest known work of art in the philippines and a national cultural treasure

the name "angono petroglyphs" is somewhat a misnomer. the rock shelter is located three and a half kilometers southeast of angono and it is already part of the municipality of binangonan of rizal province. since the name of the site already stuck and striking out "angono" from "angono petroglyphs" will only create confusion, present-day signages and references to the site use "angono-binangonan petroglyphs" and "angono petroglyphs in binangonan."

the marker

in order to reach the angono-binangonan petroglyphs, one needs to walk inside a 109-m long tunnel that cuts through a part of the hard, rocky mountain. this tunnel was constructed in 1996 and was finished in 1997 by expert igorot tunnelers/miners, who were especially commissioned by the national museum to make the process of making the dug out passage ecologically-friendly.

the tunnel leading to the angono-binangonan petroglyphs
(1) the entrance, (2) the exit, and (3)-(4) impressions on the ceiling of the 109-m long tunnel
they are marks of expertise of igorot miners who were commissioned to finish the tunnel in 1997.

inside the man-made tunnel

at the other end of the tunnel is a bend and further along the path is finally the welcome signage and the on-site museum, which was established by the national museum in 1998 to emphasize the cultural significance of the petroglyphs and to showcase the cultural and artistic heritage of the province of rizal.

the welcome marker: angono petroglyphs in binangonan

the binangonan building of the national museum: an on-site museum

the on-site museum is 240 meters away from the entrance of the tunnel. it houses a small exhibit and a collection of artifacts related to the petroglyphs and pre-colonial life. the building serves as the reception and registration area for the visitors of the petroglyphs, collectively regarded as the oldest known (and existing) work of art in the philippines.

the entrance/access fee to see the petroglyphs is 20 pesos per person but students get to pay only 50% -- 10 pesos each.

beyond that viewdeck, shaded by the canopies and lush greens,
is where the petroglyphs are
197 meters above sea level

the viewdeck is just a short uphill walk from the on-site museum.  it was constructed to keep visitors from touching the rock and degrading the existing ancient engravings. this was not the case before and there were some who actually thought it was cool to leave their own marks -- yup, not all engravings on the rock shelter are B.C. petroglyphs. some are contributions of modern-day vandals (read: mga pasaway!).

modern-day vandals' contribution :(

the petroglyphs and the rock shelter are also vulnerable to erosion and other natural occurring processes. in fact, the ground on which the rock shelter stands is showing tell-tale signs of shifting down and parts of the wall are riddled with holes. the holes are due to the roots of the trees that grew on the volcanic tuff.    

sharing space with the carvings on the ancient wall of rock are holes

according to the national museum, the site of the angono-binangonan petroglyphs is a highly significant cultural landmark and is listed in the world inventory of rock art. there is a collective effort by the national museum of the philippines, the world monument fund, american express, the department of tourism, and antipolo properties, inc. to preserve this national treasure which was recognized in 1996 as one of 100 most endangered sites in the world by the world monuments watch program of the world monuments fund.

getting to know the angono-binangonan petroglyphs
kat and bren with the on-site guide and information officer, mr. roden t. santiago

if you want to see the petroglyphs, know that the viewing days are mondays to sundays and the on-site guide & information officer's rest days are tuesdays and wednesdays. it is better to visit when he (mr. roden t. santiago) is around so you can interact with him and learn more about the petroglyphs. i suggest that you get in touch with him if you're planning to see the petroglyphs because he can provide you the many options and details on how to get there.

some online resources (read: blogs) say that DSLRs are not allowed at the site. let's correct that: DSLRs are allowed there. sir roden said so. plus, the management is open to allowing overnight camps in the area (i say, vandals and those who-don't-know-any-better are not allowed!) but just beware of the dahong palay snakes because the area has them.

should you take time to go and see the petroglyphs (why not, right?), take time also to visit balaw balaw specialty restaurant and art gallery and try their dishes in #16 don justo, doña justa village, angono, rizal.

we did!

what we ordered
balaw-balaw punch, ginisang balaw-balaw, ensaladang mangga, adobong baboy ramo, and tapang usa

balaw balaw specialty restaurant and art gallery
it's a restaurant and gallery in one!
remember, angono is the art capital of the philippines :)

balaw balaw, by the way, is a "delectable appetizer or sauce... made from small shrimps mixed with gruel and angkak, an herb that gives reddish coloring. the mixture is preserved in an earthern jar for three days."

1 comment:

  1. wow. you're on a roll val! :) i'll be plagiarizing this post for my Angono post someday.


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