Botong Francisco's house in Angono

The entire span of Poblacion Itaas Street in the art town of Angono is lined with relief works done in tribute to the legendary Filipino muralist Carlos "Botong" Francisco. Not many people we asked knew where the painter's house is, even though it has been known as a tourism spot. 

Is this ignorance on account of people having grown used to living next door to one of the greatest artists who ever lived in the country? Or have they deemed it worthy to be ignored? Or maybe they just simply didn't know? Whatever the reason, it's unfortunate, though a simple signpost or landmark could have helped clueless tourists.

My friend checking out the museum's displays in Botong Francisco's house in Angono.
We were welcomed by his grandson Totong Francisco and told us how his famous predecessor would use the small door to go in and out of the main room and how he liked spending his time painting by the river near the house. Like other Filipino painters I've encountered (Pitok Blanco and Bernardo Duldulao), Francisco started in the mainstream industry working for media companies to design film posters and ads.

Totong, also a painter, has converted part of the house into a studio that showcases contemporary art by him and his colleagues. He said that his father, his uncles and his siblings all grew up practicing painting, but he's one of the few who pursued it as a profession.

Some fading photographs and dusty displays
In the wide room downstairs were photos and sculptures of the National Artist's original murals and works which range from his own mural technique to pop art for films.

A relief displayed in the basement.
Totong also showed us a commemorative coffee table book of the life and art of his esteemed grandfather. He said he helped write and collect materials for it, and its relatively pricey worth is to partially cover the maintenance of the museum-residence he watches over. We wanted to get a copy, of course, if only it were more timely. After all, it's always a good idea to display a book on Filipino genius in our living rooms for guests to browse.

But what's the better idea? To help in art causes as this. As young Filipinos, there's a heritage we have to preserve, and a culture to enhance. #

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