With the habagat or southwest monsoon rains bearing down on the metropolis, it wasn’t exactly the ideal weather to go road-tripping but we still decided to push through with our plans for a one-day visit to the towns of Antipolo, Tanay and Pililia in Rizal province. After all, the farthest of these towns is just a 2 to 2.5-hour drive from where we live on a Sunday.
First and – as it would turn out – last of our destinations on this eventually very short road trip was the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. We originally planned to do a short visit to this museum, then mossy over to Hinulugang Taktak falls, also in the same town, before heading out to Tanay and Pililia. Heavy rains, however, spoiled this plan and we ended up getting stranded at the museum. And fortunately so. Turns out that Pinto Art Museum is such a visual treat we needed to spend a minimum of 3 hours to appreciate what it had to offer.
Located inside the Grand Heights Subdivision in Antipolo, in the hills just east of Metro Manila, Pinto (pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable – the Tagalog word for “door”) serves as a portal for contemporary Philippine art. But it’s not just art work that’s on display here.
The beautifully landscaped grounds are dotted with structures that reminded us very much of California mission architecture with Mediterranean influences. These together with the green surroundings, rolling terrain and manicured gardens sprinkled with outdoor art furnishings make Pinto a photographer’s dream, a most Instagram-worthy destination.
If you get hungry touring around the museum grounds or just need a place to hang out and rest, you can lounge at Café Rizal’s two locations: near the chapel on the way to Gallery 1 (with additional dining tables and chairs located outside) and between Galleries 3 and 4.
Before we forget, Pinto is an art museum with a huge collection of works housed in six superb galleries plus an indigenous arts museum and a sculpture garden. These galleries reside in open-air buildings and are devoted mostly to contemporary Philippine art.
Gallery 1 features several paintings that appear to be socio-political commentaries of everyday life in the Philippines.
Gallery 2, located on sloping ground, is an interesting collection of art works in various media.
Gallery 3 includes paintings and wire sculptures. It’s the wire sculptures that seem to attract the most attention here including Alab Pagarigan’s “The Hollow Man,” a wire sculpture of a man with a resin face.
Galleries 4, 5 and 6 contain modern art works in various media. The corridors linking the galleries and an open garden between Galleries 5 and 6 add to the over-all scenic nature of the place.
After touring Galleries 1 to 6 we trekked back towards the lower gardens and into the Museum of Indigenous Art, a collection of local cultural objects including furniture and other functional pieces, textiles, old photographs and ritual/religious artifacts.
Despite touring Pinto’s grounds for almost 3 hours, we still failed to visit the Sculpture Garden and the Pinto Academy complex due to the heavy rains. It was well past lunch time when the rains subsided and since we’ve already booked a place for lunch we decided to exit the museum and take lunch there rather than at Café Rizal.
We’re not closed to the idea of visiting Pinto a second time – provided the weather is ideal. We’ve heard about it for so long and we’re almost embarrassed that we had not taken the time to visit it – as near to our place as it is. Everything about Pinto – the various works of art, the charming buildings, the gardens – make it a delightful place to visit, even if you’re not a fan of modern art. Definitely a place that we’ll recommend to friends and love ones if they are looking for a place to visit that isn’t too far from the Metro.