Antipolo’s Art Trove

Stepping inside the Pinto Art Museum, 700 feet above sea level, all my aesthetic aerials went up, awakening my yen for places beautiful and inspiring.

''Imagination is a force of nature'' said Saul Bellows. To wield a brush, a pen, a chisel, a baton, is being one with nature. When God made the physical realm, He did not put a ceiling to what the mind can imagine and fashion out of hands and sweat. We are mimicking the very essence of life and giving it our own touch, our own twist.

Stepping inside the door of the galleries that house a vast number of art pieces from paintings, to sculpture, to architecture, to other multimedia art, one seems to have an out-of-body experience where all the senses are heightened and enhanced.

A line plays in my mind, like what the character in the movie Mona Lisa Smiles said, ''What is art?

I'm fascinated with splashes of colours that give a painting a life of its own, and I see a story in each canvas. What could be playing in an artist's mind in fleeting moments, seething emotions and consuming passions?

How do they retain their sanity when sometimes all I can see are pain and suffering? Where is the redemption that my Literature professor kept telling me to perceive in every great classic? Enough existential questions before I make myself cry.

Well to start with, art is a very personal thing. But there is in everyone the ability to perceive what an artist is trying to convey especially if the artist conveys it well.

What I admire most in paintings, or in any piece of creation is when I recognize a personality, a quirkiness of some sort that sets the artist apart from the rest.

The renovation of the Pinto Art Museum gives Philippine art yet another home for local artists to showcase their talents. This is a welcome validation to the now famous moniker of Rizal, being the art haven of the Philippines.

The Pinto Art Museum (or PAM) lies inside Silangan Gardens, a one hectare land of lush foliage broken off by quirky clay sculptures and rest places (like a bed! Yes, in the middle of the garden).

The founder of the gallery/museum is Dr. Joven Cuanang who first built his first inspiration, a weekend getaway and a chapel inside Silangan Gardens. A masterpiece in itself, Silangan Gardens was started in the 1970s. Dr. Cuanang is a connoisseur and patron of the arts and staunch supporter of Filipino artists. He has collected a sizeable number of paintings which he housed in the new museum.

Dr. Cuanang, the chief medical officer of St. Luke's Medical Center, has always believed that art can heal. In fact, if you go to St. Luke's in Global City, Taguig you can see large paintings and not empty canvases for walls.

On a sunny morning, you can go to the Pinto Museum by passing through Cainta Junction to get to the Ynares Center which is very visible from the road. One of the streets in front of Ynares leads to Grandheights Village, where Pinto is.

The museum is at the corner of a shady lane where trees form a canopy to shelter you from the heat. One can hear birds chirping and flitting from tree to tree as the breeze flows freely.

At the small entryway where a bell hangs, whimsical terracotta birds welcome us. A sprig of yellow daisies in a glass bottle inconspicuously sits in a nook, prettifying a faded painting of St. Francis.

The wrought iron gate and most iron details of entryways have charming curlicues and delicate shapes transforming the place into a conversation piece at every turn.

The galleries which are interconnected have very sensible cross ventilations, which made the spaces cool and relaxing.

The main gallery building, designed by Antonio Leano contains three art exhibition spaces. Simply called Gallery One, Gallery Two and Gallery Shoppe, these art spaces are vast hangars of artworks, a place where your mind can be transported and elevated by the mere spaciousness and tranquillity, and of course, more by the art pieces.

You can find many contemporary artists' works adorning the almost all white walls of the art warehouse, artists like Andy Orencio, Jim Orencio, Plet Bolipata, Cris Villanueva, Geraldine Javier, and Marina Cruz, to name a few.

Outside the galleries is a different kind of experience where you can be lost in the labyrinthine exquisiteness of the Silangan Gardens.

There are arches that can slip you into Mexican moments, stucco walls that can inspire Mediterranean moods, but whatever it is that can inspire us in this place, I'm sure the artists feel that it is a privilege and a gift to inspire as well as to be inspired.

Trailing a stone staircase with vine covered walls will take you to the rooftop garden. On the rooftops you can have a view of the pool and an oriental garden. The other rooftop spots above the museums are large spaces that can give you a view of the metropolis while having a sip of your refreshments. You can see the surrounding villages and treetops that abound in the place. Antipolo offers a most impressive skyline of Metro Manila.

Life is a series of images framed in days, hours and minutes. Everything we go through, every moment in our lives, colours and shapes fragments that eventually add up to one single masterpiece.

Pinto Art Museum gives us a glimpse of Antipolo's treasure trove. Take a stroll inside the galleries and gardens, and don't forget to breathe deeply.