Picture this: you and your barkada of creative souls and inquisitive minds are looking to get some inspiration. Sure there are museums and galleries abound in Manila, but maybe you’re looking to get out of the city too. Is there a place you can go where your creative juices can be stirred without the stresses that come with traveling in the city? The answer is a resounding yes, there are awesome barkada destinations near Manila that artsy groupies like you can venture.
Not only are there quaint galleries and museums to be discovered outside the metro, but there are also places where you can get your hands dirty and let the creative juices freely flow. Bonus points: many of these spots entail a road trip and some good food too!
Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant
Established in 2000, Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant has remained an underrated destination in Tiaong, Quezon. But for aspiring potters, hungry foodies, or just admirers of finer things, this place can’t be missed. Ugu Bigyan is a renowned Filipino pottery artist who decided to open his lovely home and even more delightful garden to the public.
Artsy barkadas can come here to participate in a pottery workshop, where they can learn the basics of the art. You can come here to shop Ugu Bigyan’s exquisite works. Likewise, you can also come here just to eat – they offer a set menu for a minimum of 5 pax, which consists of Filipino favorites and Asian fusion dishes. Many rave about the garden and the house; most love the pottery workshops, but everyone who has been here especially remembers the food.
Crescent Moon Café
The café also offers set meals that are freshly prepared. What’s notable about their food is their trademark appetizer, which lends a distinctly Antipolo flavor. They serve fresh alagaw leaves, which have a velvety texture, with several options for filling like mango, garlic, onions, chili, and the like. While it’s an acquired taste, it’s a unique experience true foodies will enjoy.
Pinto Art Museum
Tucked in a congested residential area in Antipolo is the spacious gem that is Pinto Art Museum. Not only is it a physical oasis, but a creative haven as well. The museum is set on sprawling grounds that’s covered in trees and greens. The buildings themselves are a sight, thanks to clean and sophisticated architecture.
Art lovers would go gaga over several galleries, each featuring works by celebrated local artists. Here you can see paintings in different styles and mediums, sculptures, and installations spread out over the large property. There’s also no shortage of photo ops at the museum, so you fashionistas better prepare OOTD’s that do the place justice.
Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery
Yes, Angono is not an establishment so much as an entire town in Rizal. And yes, the town is a must-visit for artsy barkadas. Named the biggest art gallery in the country, the town of Angono is home to 9 art galleries, plus memorials to 2 National Artists who were born here. They are Carlos “Botong” Fransisco, National Artist for Visual Arts, and Lucio San Pedro, National Artist for Music.
One of the gems of this town is Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery. It’s mostly known for its exotic fares, such as fried crickets and the notorious Soup no. 5, which foodies and adventurers flock to regularly. But amidst the unique flavors are folk artworks that make Angono distinct. From wood carvings to colorful paintings, everything about Balaw-Balaw will fill your senses and spark your artistic interests.
Nemiranda Arthouse and Café
Owned and run by artist Nemesio Miranda Jr., a tour through the Nemiranda Arthouse (also in Angono) is an educational experience as well as a visual journey. Miranda highlights Filipino roots and myths, which is evident from the materials he uses to the themes of his artworks. Common mediums used for installations as well as average structures like fences and doors are always indigenous. Thus you’ll see a lot of bamboos, sawali, abaca, and the like around the arthouse.
When it comes to paintings and sculptures, there’s always a distinctly local flavor. From Mother and Child themes to local myths, legends, and mysticisms, if it’s uniquely Filipino, you can probably see it here. After your tour, you can also sit back and enjoy the atmosphere while filling yourself up with the café’s homey Filipino dishes.
Blanco Family Museum
Of the galleries and museums in Angono, the Blanco Family Museum is one of the most notable for its backstory. As the name suggests, the museum is all about the Blanco family and is where their works are displayed. The family is made up of the patriarch, Jose “Pitok” Blanco, and his seven kids, all of whom followed his hyper-realistic painting style.
Despite no formal training, the skills of the Blancos are undeniable to art enthusiasts thanks to their technique and mastery. It’s a truly inspiring experience to walk through the museum and see how one family can produce such masterpieces.
Casa San Miguel
Casa San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales has a B&B, a restaurant, and even a concert hall. But art lovers and history buffs will love this place most for the heritage museum. Not only does it house relevant historical artifacts, artworks, and vintage photos from the area, but it also aims to highlight and raise awareness for this beloved town’s culture through workshops and programs for locals.
On top of its great purpose, the grounds itself are beautiful. It’s located in an old mango orchard, with the rustic house looking every bit as charming as the surroundings. There’s a distinct feeling of peace when you enter here – perfect for channeling that creative energy and drawing out the inspiration for your next masterpiece!