Probably the Philippines’ oldest art, and some of the oldest rock carvings in southeast Asia, the Angono Petroglyphs sit in Angono, Rizal, southeast of Manila. The 127 carvings show human and animal figures and date back to the late Stone Age, more than 4,000 years ago. A small on-site museum displays ceramics, fossils, and other artifacts.
The Angono Petroglyphs are open daily from morning until mid-afternoon, and the small entrance fee covers both the rock shelter and the museum. Most visitors either drive to the site or hire a car and driver. It’s also possible to visit as a stop on a private tour around Manila or Luzon, or an art tour of Angono, the art capital of the Philippines. Door-to-door tours are recommended as the site is fiddly to reach.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Angono Petroglyphs are recommended for fans of paleontology and archaeology.
- Due to a sad history of vandalism, the site is closed outside museum opening hours.
- The Angono Petroglyphs are rock carvings, not rock paintings; there is no evidence that paint was ever used.
How to Get There
The Angono Petroglyphs are around 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the main road in Angono, Rizal, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Manila. Reaching them by public transport requires piecing together jeepneys and tricycles from Manila, so most visitors prefer to skip the hassle and arrange a private driver or book an organized tour.
When to Get There
The Angono Petroglyphs are never busy, but it’s important to time your journey into and out of Manila to beat the rush-hour gridlock (roughly 7–9am and 5–9pm during the week). As always in the Philippines, avoid traveling around the Easter holiday, when traffic is even crazier than usual.
What Is a Petroglyph, Anyway?
The word “petroglyph” means “rock carving,” and forms scratched into soft rock with harder stones are one of the oldest human forms of art. Many petroglyphs are the product of generations of individuals scratching at the rock in turn, and one theory suggests these early artists were actually magicians casting spells.