Pinto Art Museum: Secrets and Serenity

I grew up with Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.  Ever since reading the book, I have always wondered if I would one day find my very own secret garden. Like most things in childhood, this whimsical wish remained with me. There was simply this longing to discover something precious, perhaps precious enough that it had to be hidden away. Imagine my delight then, when I stepped into the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo, Rizal. It was a close realization of a childhood dream.

Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city is this curious museum. We travelled from Bonifacio Global City, Taguig to the location for about 50 minutes. This was on a Saturday afternoon, and traffic was not as terrible. It was my first time to visit Antipolo, and with its winding roads that seemed to take us closer to the heavens, it reminded me so much of Baguio. We had to pass by security before entering what seemed like a village. I wondered if we had the correct location, as aside from a few houses that were in the process of being built, the rest of the area was covered in lush greenery.

When we arrived I became certain that I have never really been in such a museum before. We purchased our passes and the keepers handed us a map. Upon entering, you get a view of this little chapel in a lovely garden, divided by several pathways. It seemed like a vast property to explore. The pathways led to different areas. Oddly though, the first thing that caught my eye were these random white beds so out of place in the garden. And yet their presence made the whole experience whimsical and intriguing.  There was nothing quite like it. 

While the white beds encouraged you to pause your journey and enjoy the scenery, the pathways and staircases kept you eager to see more. Where would they lead? What would you find? The experience reminded you how to be a child again - to be inquisitive and appreciative of what curious little things you could discover on your own.

Some staircases led you to galleries.

One of the pathways meandered into an exhibit of indigenous art.

But the one I loved the most was the stairway to heaven.

I believe the rooftop area is the very Cafe Tan-aw. I might not know what the Antipolo locals mean by tan-aw, but without the hyphen, tanaw meant view. And what a lovely view it was to be closer to the clouds, and to see the city below!

Cafe Tan-aw had unique furniture arrangement, as had the other areas of the museum. With the ever present white beds, one could not help but wonder if the owners so loved the idea of sleep? As for me, the beds simply brought me closer to a state of dreaming. To be surrounded by beauty, both by nature and man, and all in this while I lie down without a care in the world, that to me is serenity.

And yet there was a lot more to be seen!

Once we found our way to the main galleries, I began to wish for more time to spend staring at the eclectic collection of Pinto Art Museum. There I found the eerie and the elegant, the religious and the revolutionary. Whatever walk of life you come from, there was always something worth your while.

I am certain to return to review their religious material next time. For now I relish in the experience of visiting a place that did not only pique my interest but also granted me peace. It is one of those places that are rare to find in my country, so I truly appreciate the vision and generosity of the owners for putting up such a retreat from the city.

Pinto Art Museum let me return to my childhood and live my wish of exploring and discovering something on my own. I feel the same is true for my companions in this trip. We all left longing to come back.

And I would come back, not only for the secrets and serenity of the place, but for the little tail-waggers that are allowed to roam within the area - a delight for dog lovers! This guy would not leave me alone. He kept putting his head against my hand for pats and scratches. :)

All the lovely photos were taken by Prashant Kala.

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