A Visit to Carlos "Botong" Francisco's Ancestral Home and a Lesson on Becoming a National Artist in the Philippines

By Mommy Donna and Kib - October 27, 2021

Recently, Kib and I have decided to go around Rizal province to discover and learn more about the interesting places around here. We're from Cainta, and it's so weird that I don't know a lot about Rizal province. I decided to take a leap of faith by driving around without joining a convoy. 

The first stops that we did were at the farther end of Rizal. We went to Pililia and Tanay to go to the Lyger Animal Sanctuary and Regina Rica, respectively. We also drove along the Marilaque Highway to see the Sierra Mountain range and to explore more spots to visit in the future. 

Last weekend, we decided to only go around Angono, Rizal to visit the different art galleries. One of the places that we visited was the home of Carlos "Botong" Francisco. 

Carlos "Botong" Francisco's ancestral home is located at 217 Doña Aurora St., Angono, Rizal

Who is Botong Franciscso?

Botong Francisco is the second painter to receive the National Artist Award in 1973. Botong Francisco is known for painting murals. His paintings can be seen in major establishments in Manila and some private museums such as Yuchengco Museum and Lopez Museum. One of Botong Francisco's murals can also be found in Fukuoka, Japan. According to his grandson, Carlos "Totong" Francisco II, Botong Francisco is one of the top ten watercolor artists in the world during his time. He can do watercolor art on tracing paper. 

You cannot miss Botong Francisco's house, you can see this in front of his house

The family didn't keep any of his murals in their home because they won't fit on their walls. Rather, they only kept photos of his famous artworks for visitors to see. Botong Francisco didn't have that much attachment to his murals; however, he only kept some of his small artworks, like the "Mutya ng Pasig" in watercolor. 

The "Mutya ng Pasig" artwork is the one on the right

Sadly, Botong Francisco was recognized as National Artist four years after his death. He died due to choking in 1969 and was awarded as National Artist in 1973. He is the second artist to be recognized as National Artist, the first one was Fernando Amorsolo.

Botong Francisco's bust

National Artist Award

Kib and I learned so much about how to be recognized as a National Artist in the Philippines. We were in awe to see the actual medal given to the awardees. 

Carlos "Botong" Francisco's medal as National Artist. It was awarded to him posthomously

Totong Francisco explained to us the symbols around the medal. In the Philippines, there are seven areas of arts that are recognized: 

  • Dance (choreography, direction, and/or performance)
  • Music (composition, direction, and/or performance)
  • Theater (direction, performance, and/or production design)
  • Visual Arts (painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation art, mixed media works, illustration, graphic arts, performance art, and/or imaging)
  • Literature (poetry, fiction, essay, playwriting, journalism, and/or literary criticism)
  • Film and Broadcast Arts (direction, writing, production design, cinematography, editing, camera work, and/or performance)
  • Architecture, Design, and Allied Arts (architecture design, interior design, industrial arts design, landscape architecture, and fashion design)
The medal or the Grand Collar given to the National Artists has an eight-pointed conventionalized sunburst that is suspended in a sampaguita wreath (note: sampaguita is the National Flower of the Philippines) in green and white enamel. The central badge or medallion is divided into three equal portions (red, white, and blue) which symbolizes the color of the Phillippine flag. It has the letters KKK around it which means "katotohanan, kabutihan at kagandahan" (the true, the good, and the beautiful) which is coined by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The medallion of the National Artist hangs on his/her area of expertise. In Botong Francisco's case, the medallion hangs on the Visual Arts symbol.

The National Artist Award was established under the virtue of Proclamation No. 1001 on April 27, 1972. In the previous years, the selection process for the National Artist Award was simple; however, due to the mandate of Executive Order 236 signed on September 19, 2003, the screening process became more complicated because there is a Committee of Honors who will evaluate the nominees for the National Artist Award. However, those individuals who are previously nominated will be forever nominated, they don't need to undergo the process of submitting the requirements annually.

Even if the Committee is able to choose the National Artist, it is the President of the Philippines who has the last say.

Angono, Rizal as Botong's Hometown

Angono, Rizal is proud to have two National Artists from their hometown: Botong Francisco for Visual Arts and Master Lucio San Pedro for Music. Another artist from Angono is currently being nominated as National Artist, his name is Nemesio Miranda, also known as Nemiranda. There is no doubt that Angono is dubbed as the "Art Capital of the Philippines" because there are lots of talented people living there. I will tell you more about Angono, Rizal in my future blogs.

The street and block where Botong's house is located is full of the copies of his famous murals. Every year, the murals are being restored in time for Angono's town fiesta every November 23rd. 

It's easy to spot the street where Carlos "Botong" Francisco lives, it has an arch and a marker

Botong's Ancestral Home

It's very easy to see Botong's home: it has a marker on it. Simply ring the doorbell and his grandson will give you a tour of the home.

Totong Francisco, Botong's grandson, presently lives in the house. He is also an artist, but he is more of an abstract painter. He didn't see his grandfather anymore, but he has lots of stories to tell about him, probably passed on by his mom (Botong's daughter), grandmother, and uncles and aunts. The family didn't keep any of Botong's original murals because they're too big for the walls of their home. They only have copies of the murals to show to the visitors. 

Photo op with Carlos "Totong" Francisco II. You can see his artwork at the background

One of the original artworks of Botong Francisco that the family kept is the "Mutya ng Pasig" in watercolor. 

There is nothing much to see inside Botong's ancestral home, but you can feel that there are lots of stories there. The family kept some of the personal items that Botong used, like his shoes, some of his art brushes, his Boy Scout uniform, old furnitures, and old luggages. The present house is already modernized, but they kept a portion of the old wooden foundation. You can also see Botong Francisco's National Artist medal there.

Visiting Botong Francisco's home is free! You can visit anytime except on Mondays.

  • Share:

You Might Also Like