The Angono – Binangonan Petroglyphs

1965- It was a fine day in the border of Angono and Binangonan when Botong lead a group of boy scouts in a rockshelter for a quick rest during their camping trip.  Together with his group, the Angono native noticed something peculiar engraved in several parts of the rock-wall: carved drawings of people, animals, and other animate objects. Holding back his conclusion of what appeared to be a primitive work, he eventually reported his sighting to the National Museum. 

What supposed to be an ordinary excursion back in 1965 turned out to be a day of amazing discovery for Carlos “Botong” Francisco, a renowned Filipino National Artist.

Personnel from the National Museum went to the site on the same year to study the drawings, they also found some stone tools that were believed to be used to carve out the oldest known artwork in the Philippines. More fragments of tools were found in the following visits which dated back to the Neolithic age. The excavation was lead by Filipino Archaeologist Alfredo Evangelista.


 We decided to push through with our planned Angono-Antipolo roadtrip for the weekend, and the first stop of our adventure was a tour to the Angono Petrolyphs.

It was a long and winding road going to the site from the busy road of Angono with views of Laguna lake. It was a surprise for me to know that our destination only took more than an hour to reach via C6.

I noticed several bikers going in and out of the site as we moved along. There was a security guard sitting at the mouth of the tunnel to check on the visitors and ask for a registration. I was a about to whip out my wallet when the guard told me that the entrance is free for now. What a relief!

We moved on to the dark, cold tunnel going to the petroglyphs as bikers go pedal their way out to the other side. Most of the visitors that morning were mountain bikers who probably came from the nearby Thunderbird trail in Binangonan, this made me decide to go back to Angono on two wheels for another weekend ride.

The walk inside the tunnel only took a few minutes. We were about to go out when I noticed something written on the tunnel’s walls. I made a closer inspection and found out that previous visitors vandalized the wall. It was sad and infuriating to think that a heritage site was spoiled by people who have no regard to the place.

A short hike revealed the actual site with a small museum. A group of cyclists were also there to visit, with their bikes hung on the nearby rack, they took photos and then headed to the steps going to the wall. (How I envy them and their weekend ride that day! But I was with Angelie and I was equally enjoying the moment so the ride to the Petroglyphs had to wait.)

On the right is a stairway going to the rockwall. It then leads to a platform with a guardrail which serves as a viewing deck.

Good thing they came up with the idea of constructing this deck by the Petroglyphs. People used to vandalize the walls and sadly, some of it are still visible today.

I was amazed when I saw the figures. The first drawing I saw was a group of stick figured people which symbolized a family according to our guide. There were also animal figures, the most conspicuous was a turtle; an oval shaped carving with lines to form its limbs and head. Our guide told us that our ancient ancestors who drew it may have worshiped such animals.

I kept staring at the 5,000 year old works of art. It was overwhelming to think that I was in front of the oldest artwork known in the country!

We went down the stairs to the other side of the platform and proceeded inside the small museum. It was a small house with photos of the excavation with an article  about the Petroglyphs, its discovery, and how the excavation was done.

I found out about the Angono-Rizal Petroglyphs from my cousin’s blog when he did a solo ride around Rizal by motorcycle. You can check his Rizal tour here.

 

Today, some of the drawings have faded due to time and maybe the lack of rehabilitation on the artworks itself. The best thing the caretakers can do is to prevent any form of vandalism to happen and provide vital information to the tourists. I’m glad that the local government of Rizal and the National Museum are doing their best in keeping the place safe from any form of damage. I just hope they find a way to preserve this amazing discovery so that it will still be around for the following generations to come.

Address, schedule and contact details:

National Museum | Eastridge Road, Angono, Rizal
Monday – Saturday 8 AM to 5 PM |(02) 527-4192 | nm_asbmd@yahoo.com  

Facts:

  • Known as the Oldest work of art in the Philippines as declared in 1973 by virtue of presidential decree no. 260
  • The Carvings are dated back to 3,000bc during the Neolithic age or the pre-metal age. The artworks were carved using stone tools
  • The rock shelter is made from volcanic tuff
  • There are 127 artworks made by the ancient artists but only 51 of them are distinct
  • Discovered in March 1965 by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Fransisco, a renowned Muralist from Angono, Rizal. The Archeological Excavation was done on October and November of the same year
  • The rockshelter was used by Filipino Guerillas as a resting spot during the 2nd World War
  • The Rockshelter is 63 meters wide, 8 meters deep, and 5 meters at its highest point
  • Included in the World Inventory of Rock Art under the auspices of UNESCO, ICOM, ICOMOS, ICCROM, under the standard Rock Art Files
  • It is technically located in Binangonan, Rizal. It happens to be near the border of Angono and was discovered by Carlos Francisco who is a native of Angono, making it known as the Angono Petroglyphs
  • Entrance fee is 20php (adults) and 10php (students) according to the sign in front of the tunnel, but the security guard told us that entrance is free. (as of March 2017)

Getting there: 

By vehicle via c6:

  • Take the c6 road going to Taytay to reach Manila East Road passing by SM Angono.
  • Continue straight and then turn left to Col. Guido street. The road is quite cramped with tricycles and other vehicles taking the road. It will widen after a few meters and will be an uphill road with a nice view of Laguna lake going up Eastridge Avenue.
  • You will then reach a main gate with guards that will require you to surrender your ID. Continue to follow the road, landmarks are the Eastridge Golf course and Thunderbird Resort, in about a few minutes, you will see the sign going to the Angono-Rizal Petroglyphs on the left side of the road.

By public transportation:

  • Via EDSA-Crossing, take a jeepney bound to Angono.  
  • Ask the driver to drop you off in SM Angono or Angono town proper.  
  • You May then hire a tricycle going to the Petroglyphs. They may charge for about 300php.
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