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Summer Hotspots: Top 5 colorful, charming art towns in the Philippines

By KAREN AVERION PANGAN Published Apr 15, 2021 3:50 pm

What are the Philippine destinations you miss the most? If your summers have always been about the beach, perhaps it’s time to get to know places that show us a different side of the Philippines.

Here are charming towns around the country that are known for their art and cultural traditions. With the exception of one, they’re all driving distance from Manila.

1. Angono Art Town, Rizal

Higantes Festival at Angono, Rizal.  Photo from 9gag.com

Angono boasts the title “Art Capital of the Philippines” for its strong creative roots and rich culture. This small town is home to two National Artists—Carlos “Botong” Franciso for Painting, and Prof. Lucio San Pedro for Music.

It is also the residence of more than 500 painters, not including others in the creative arts.

The town considers the Angono Petroglyphs as its artistic strength, which is regarded as the oldest form of rock art in the country. Though geographically small, Angono has numerous museums and private artist studios that any art fan will find pleasing. Must-visits are the Blanco Museum and Folk Art Museum. 

2. Woodcarving Capital, Paete, Laguna

Woodcarvers in Paete. Photo from Philippine Information Agency (PIA)

Anyone who’s smitten with the wood interior trend will surely enjoy a day trip at Paete, Laguna. Considered as the woodcarving capital of the Philippines, this quaint town is well-known for its wood and paper mache masters.

Unfinished wooden saints.  Photo from Biyahenglaguna.com

Fringing the municipality’s narrow roads are numerous shops selling different crafts like wood displays, doll toys, and animal paper mache. It’s also a good place to buy saints fashioned from wood.

 3. Colonial Town, Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Going back in time at Calle Crisologo in Vigan. 

Architecture is considered a form of art and there’s no finer example of a colonial town in the Philippines than that found in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Home to the famous Calle Crisologo, the small strip of road features Spanish colonial architecture with European and Chinese influences. The destination, which is established in the 16th-century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to small-town sellers of handicrafts.

4. Textile Art, Kalibo, Aklan

Ati-atihan Festival in Aklan. 

There’s no better place to source quality piña fabric than in Kalibo, Aklan, where communities of indigenous weavers have perfected its traditional weaving and dyeing.

Piña fabric.  Photo from Serc.berkeley.com.  

The fabric, which is also dubbed as the Queen of Philippine textiles, is acknowledged locally and internationally not only for its durability but for its luxurious feel and sheerness. Looking for more price-friendly pieces of this treasured fabric? Aklan has a rich number of artisans that can meet every kind of demand from tourists.

 5. Shoe Capital, Liliw, Laguna

St. John the Baptist Church in Liliw, Laguna.

Liliw, Laguna is always a delight to visit for those who want to go on a footwear shopping spree. Despite the small size of this town, it is known locally for producing export-quality shoes that are created by its homegrown shoemakers.

Liliw-made shoes.  Photo from Carousell

What’s more, the footwear here is also known for its friendly price points because you can buy them directly from its producers. Pro-tip: this place is a must-visit if you’re looking for affordable leather shoes.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to skip the beach if the places above are your options. Make sure to add these to your list—of course, following the right safety protocols.