The art and life of Angono’s higantes

Photo by Nikka Corsino


By Nikka Corsino – There was pride in Leonardo Tajan’s voice when he recounted the time his father charged him to look after his most important creations: the Pamilya ng Higante (family of giants), a three-piece set of giant papier-mâché figures representing a traditional Filipino family, also arguably a big part of the modern cultural history of Angono town in Rizal province.

“Ako lang sa aming magkakapatid ang nahilig sa sining, kaya ako rin lang ang pinag-iwanan niyan ng aking tatay,” Tajan said, pointing to the larger-than-life figures—one adult male and one adult female, each about ten feet tall, and a male child about half the adults’ height. (I was the only one among my siblings who took to the arts so my father decided to pass them on to me.)

Tajan was making some finishing touches to the higantes, making sure the space on their midriffs are enough for their carriers to look through. At one point, when a bunch of tourists attempted to move the higantes on display to pose for photos, he approached them quickly and moved the delicate figures himself.

Each year hence, in November, these giant figures would parade down Angono’s streets for the Higantes Festival, which coincides with the Catholic feast of the town’s patron, Saint Clement.

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