The Rizal towns of Antipolo, Angono and Binangonan are known for its art galleries. Even the oldest known art work in the Philippines – the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs believed to be 4,000 years old – is located in the area. But an art gallery with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside?
With quarantine restrictions still limiting our travel to within Metro Manila and nearby provinces, we turned our sights to a place that has been making the rounds in social media lately: the ArtSector Gallery & Chimney Café 360º in Binangonan. Opened only in November 2019, this is one of the few art galleries/museums that has been operating since the pandemic broke out.
To our surprise ArtSector was only 20 kilometers or about 50 minutes away in moderate traffic from our residence. We realized we’ve taken this route a few years ago on a number of occasions, passing by the C6 Road along Laguna de Bay to avoid the often congested Ortigas Ave. Extension leading to Taytay and Antipolo but some of the roads were terrible back then. They are now fully concreted which made for a faster ride.
Located inside the Eastridge Village subdivision, the 5-level ArtSector features whitewashed walls, top-to-bottom glass windows and open balconies. It incorporates many of the architectural elements of Pinto Museum in nearby Antipolo and no wonder since it owes its design to Architect Antonio Leaños, the same person behind the design of Pinto.
What sets ArtSector apart from Pinto and other museums and art galleries in the province and elsewhere are the commanding 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Set on a hill, Art Sector offers unobstructed views of the Metro Manila skyline, Laguna de Bay and its offshore towns, the Sierra Madre Mountains and even the windmills of Pililla.
While ArtSector might have a Greek/Mediterranean style façade, the interior has more of a simple yet elegant industrial look. There is a small rock garden just outside the first level where we entered.
Just beyond the entrance, a short flight of stairs took us to level two with the first 2 small art galleries, a dining area and the counter for Chimney Café where we ordered coffee and snacks. This level also has an outdoor dining area and a rock garden that includes a waterfall-fountain.
We chose to dine at the third level which has several dining areas, 2 more galleries and a fireplace. There’s also a small balcony outside. It was getting unusually warm at this time of the year so we decided to dine inside. However, the top-to-bottom glass windows still allow guests to catch a view of the panorama outside.
The galleries at ArtSector has a small but varied collection of paintings, collages, sculptures, and mixed media. We had a grand time observing and taking photos of the different works of art in between enjoying our coffee and pasta.
The fourth level is the roof deck with another outdoor dining area. A flight of concrete stairs leads up to the 5th level, the best place for viewing the surrounding countryside. We were thinking about watching and shooting the sunset from here but just before 5 PM the 5th level was beginning to fill up with people who were thinking the same.
We decided at this point to call it a day and hightail it for home. (We also weren’t allowed to use our tripod – ArtSector charges rates for photoshoots – and Leo doesn’t normally take sunset shots without it.)
ArtSector is a nice place if you want a quick escape from the metro. You can have a meal while viewing art work, take photos and enjoy excellent panoramic views of the surrounding areas. It’s best to visit during weekdays as the place can get full on weekends. If Chimney Café becomes full they will stop accepting guests who will then have to wait outside in a covered area until some guests start to leave. The place is not air conditioned and dining here can be a problem during summer or the dry season.
ArtSector is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 1:30 to 8:30 PM. It is closed on Mondays to make way for photoshoots and special events. Entrance costs P200 per person and is on a first come, first served basis; no reservations are required.