Nemiranda Arthouse and Atelier Restoran in Angono, rizal

The legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

Indeed, each one, commuter, pedestrian or motorist alike, has a child-like and artistic soul which makes him stop to admire an artwork by the wayside.

With Valentine’s Day behind us now, we can now focus on an equally important aspect of life—art. Here are some of the drive-worthy art colonies close to the metropolis for a feast for the senses with exciting sights and sounds along the way.

Pit Stop 1: Angono, Rizal. Manila’s eastern neighbor is home to thousands of artists, perhaps due to its awe-inspiring landscape, and confluence of pastoral and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Declared by the government as the country’s “art capital,” this little town is a haven of hordes of painters, brass band musicians, sculptors, literary and performing artists, and other forms of contemporary art.

Feast your eyes on the myriad of paintings at the Blanco Family Art Museum, Nemiranda Arthouse and Atelier Galerie, Balagtas Gallery, creekside Art Camp Tambayan, and Balaw Balaw Restaurant’s Ang Nuno Gallery. The latter is the home of the ubiquitous “higantes” giant papier maches which are associated with the town.

An urban artscape is the Doña Aurora Street relief mural where stands the residence of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco whose museum is managed by his modernist grandson Totong Francisco.

As proof of its art’s global appeal, Angono recently hosted a 17-person delegation from Arth Art International India from New Delhi as part of an art exchange to strengthen the two countries cultural ties.

Up in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges is Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, the 2,000-year old rock art under the care of the National Museum. In the hilltop area overlooking the metro skyline are a golf course, the Santorini-inspired Thunderbird Resort, and several cozy restaurants with displays of modern art work.

Alitaptap Artists Community in Amadeo, Cavite

Pit Stop 2: Upland Cavite. Synonymous with Tagaytay Ridge, which is very famous for you know what, this area is also known for numerous art galleries and museums tucked within the interior roads.

Tagaytay City takes pride in Museo Orlina which showcases the world-class elegant glass art pioneer and foremost practitioner Ramon Orlina.

Shut yourself from the outside world at Shambala Silang Living Museum, an art enclave named after a mythical ancient Tibetan village. Hidden in Brgy. Pulong Bunga, this is a yoga and Labyrinth Walk garden, organic farm, special events place, slow food resto, gallery of indigenous art, antique and souvenir shop, and Ifugao Rice Terraces-themed village rolled into one.

Monikered as the country’s coffee capital, Amadeo prides itself of its vibrant art scene on top of the caffeine rush of its unique blend. Alitaptap Artists Community, a sprawling private sanctuary in Brgy. Halang and abode to a group of artists in different disciplines, offers an immersive experience as they tour guests around the neatly landscaped premises. It also has a quaint garden cafe which serves snacks, Filipino favorites, and their concocted drinks.

casa san miguel in san antonio, zambales

Pit Stop 3: San Antonio, Zambales. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the CASA San Miguel in San Antonio rose from the “laharscape” of the destructive Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Established as a fledgling informal community music school in 1993 by prominent violinist Coke Bolipata, it has grown to become the Regional Center for the Arts for Central Luzon of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Located inside a vast mango orchard near the sea, the Victorian-inspired arts hub now boasts of a regular community arts program, an art gallery, concert hall, a homey bed and breakfast, the Café Virtuosi, a special events place, and plenty of open spaces for quiet moments and playtime for city-bred children.

As part of its 30th founding anniversary, CASA and the Anita Magsaysay-Ho Arts Program recently opened the CREATE Gallery inaugural exhibition titled Confluence, which celebrates the merging of art styles, art forms, and cultures. Many works from this exhibit are up for sale which will go to support art scholars.

Ongoing until April 2 is “Tamulawen Ya Zambales,” featuring Zambales artists William Matawaran and Akwey Dalusong at the Ramon K. Bolipata Gallery for Community Artists.

For summer, CASA San Miguel has lined up the Sunday’s Best afternoon concert series which puts the spotlight on fresh Filipino talents in music, literature, and the visual arts, topbilled by the Pundaquit Virtuosi, its resident classically trained ensemble of children, mostly from the local villages.

The art center also offers tours around tourist spots of Zambales for a complete countryside adventure.