Effigies are typically associated with demonstrations and rallies, but in Angono, Rizal, they have a much more celebratory appeal.

They are the stars of the Higantes Festival, a procession of papier-mâché effigies honoring the town’s patron saint, San Clemente. Devotees dress the higantes in colorful local costumes, and carry the image of the saint all the way to a fluvial procession at the Laguna de Bay, with the revelry continuing all the way until the statue is returned to its sanctuary.

Paper mache higantes, part of the Bisperas Mayores grand parade 

Yet this was just one of the sights we discovered in Angono. Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) still had a lengthy itinerary of “must-see’s”. Angono, after all, is widely recognized as the art capital of the Philippines.

The journey began with a drive to Angono where media participants partook of traditional food at the Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery. Afterwards, the group witnessed the Bisperas Mayores grand parade that featured the Higantes walking through the town streets. The convoy then drove to the Thunderbird Resort in Binangonan, Rizal.

The following day was jumpstarted with a visit to the oldest work of art in the country, the Petroglyphs in Angono. These are drawings of people and animals, carved into the rock, some estimated to date as far back as 3,000 years. Finally, there was the ancestral house of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, with some of the artists’ famous works on display and the storied history of the house narrated by the curator.

 A higantes effigy carrying a bilao of pancit

The Higantes Festival may be the last uniquely Filipino festival of the year, yet it is just the start for NPI and TPB. All of this is part of the company’s “Visit the Philippines, Drive to Discover with Nissan” program. Aligned with the objectives of the Department of Tourism (DOT) of stimulating local tourism, it was created in conjunction with the Philippine Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing and promotions arm of the DOT. The campaign aims to boost local tourism through the promotion of road travel to tourism destinations recommended by the TPB.

 Visit the Philippines, Drive to Discover with Nissan’ is a facet of how we at Nissan Philippines do things differently,” said Antonio Zara, NPI President and Managing Director. “It is on its pilot run and will continue until October 2016. This is our way of showing the beauty of the country from a different perspective, that the drive, the journey, can be as meaningful and exciting as the destination. If the Higantes bring ‘bigness in size’ in top of mind recall, so does the new Almera in terms of not just cabin space, but also trunk space.”

Nissan Drive to Discover logo

"There are still many interesting places to visit, sights to see, and activities to try out that are unique to the country. By working together with Nissan and the motoring media, we hope the public will be encouraged to make new discoveries on the road,” said Milo Oropeza, TPB Project Development Officer.

As for the Almera, it served as an ideal roadtrip partner, with more than enough trunk room for our overnight bags. There was generous leg room (particularly in the second row), and its vaunted cooling blower in the second row made sure rear passengers could easily beat the heat. The new Almera is available in all Nissan dealerships for test-driving and outright sale.