Angono Petroglyphs – the oldest rock art discovered in the Philippines
The Angono petroglyphs are located in the province of Rizal, approximately 25 kilometres from Manila. The site is actually a museum located on the border of the municipalities of Angono and Binangonan. The Angono petroglyphs are considered to be the oldest known work of rock art in the Philippines. There are 127 different human and animal figures engraved on to the rock wall. The rock wall itself is in a shallow, sheltered area, at the rear end of a cave.
The ancient site was discovered by national artist Carlos V. Francisco. Archaeological excavations carried out soon after in 1965 uncovered a number of artefacts. This included some tools, fossils, remains of a giant turtle and ceramics that indicate the site was occupied and utilized during the Neolithic age. This suggests that these carvings may have been created earlier than 2000BC, putting the age of the petroglyphs at more than 4,000 years old. This makes them the oldest form of rock art that has been discovered in the Philippines.
Mystery surrounding the carvings
Of the 127 ancient drawings that are visible, it is said that only 51 of them are actually recognisable, largely due to erosion. These figures depict a turtle, frogs and lizards. Some of the figures may also represent humans. They are considered to be symbolic representations, possibly referencing healing and soothing using forms of alchemy.
The site is now a significant landmark that was declared a national cultural treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 1973. The petroglyphs have been included on the list of the world inventory of rock art in 1985. They have also been included on the Philippines’ tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The petroglyphs are part of an ongoing preservation initiative that is a collective effort of a number of organizations including the National Museum of the Philippines, the Department of Tourism and the World Monuments Fund. You can also check out my Vlog which will give you a real good look and feel for the place.
Costs: There is no entry cost and the site is open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.