There’s a distinctive smell of wood amidst the mixture of paint and thinner lingering in the air. I could hear the constant pounding of multiple mallets on chisels carving away pieces of wood to make form to an otherwise large piece of wood. Occasional sawdust fills the air when sudden gust of wind blows through this open air wood carving workshop. Paete Woodcarving has been a thriving industry since the Spanish era until now. A walk at the town’s market road, it is hard not to notice the rows of shops, selling variety of wood work and paper mache. This crafty town of Paete, north-east of Laguna have earned its declaration as the Woodcarving Capital of the Philippines back in 2005. Thanks to proud Paetenians whose generations of wood carvers passed their skills and dedication for elevating the art. Here we meet some of the master woodcarvers that have etched their legacy in the town’s history.
From the outside, it looks like a run down dilapidated structure with an overgrown tree intruding its space at the entrance. Once we got inside, it’s like going through a rabbit hole and we were transported into a surreal otherworld. Almost amorphous and continuing to evolve into who knows what, Ili-likha Artist Village is a patch of creative space in the heart of the highly urbanized Baguio City. They are just a few steps away from the infamous Session Road.
I didn’t travel that much the month of July this year, but I did take on one of the most interesting magazine feature I’ve done so far. Maybe I was looking for a change than the usual destination stories on beaches, hotels or food but more on the people and personalities. The InFlight Magazine assignment brought me around the different towns around Laguna de Bay to discover the creativity, the richness of the culture and the masters of art. I have written them on the blog yet but it’s something to look forward to. Here’s to give you an idea.
For at least a couple of hours, people at the streets of EDSA and Ayala Avenue got a surprised and delighted look when they saw a group of colourful and artistic jeeps roam the streets. For a while they stopped what they were doing and stare, take a picture with their mobile phones or simply admire the moving steel canvasses zooming past their sights. About 43 rehabilitated jeeps have undergone a makeover in the hands of a few creative volunteers for the first ever Jeepney Arts Festival. Reviving the Filipinos creativity and ingenuity represented by the Philippine Jeepney.
I received an invitation from a bunch of young professionals from Melaka, Malaysia to join their “A Date with Bloggers,” an event to showcasing their rich food and culture of Melaka. It’s been almost four years since my last day trip there and since I have a spare ticket to use at that time, I decided to go and possibly explore the area in a few days. From Manila, I flew to the LCCT airport, got on a Melaka bound bus. One and a half hour later, I was at Melaka Sentral. I was met by a young local organiser of the event and took me to my lodge, Sayang-Sayang Guest House which is found on the Melaka Riverside. I explored the back of the guest house and was immediately awed by the sight of the river and rows of houses filled with creative murals. I got a feeling I’m gonna like it here.
Many would be familiar with the ancient musical instrument kulintang, consisting of rows of graduated pots laid horizontally in ascending pitch. We admire at its sound that have graced cultural presentations, yet are we aware of how it was made? Kulintang, gongs and even the elaborate designs of a Muslim jar are brasswares popularly made in Mindanao, particularly the oldest city in the region, Cotabato City. I visited Baranggay Kalanganan for the Cotabato Maguindanao Brassware Association Incorporated to see how a community painstakingly continues an age-old tradition, dating back to the Sultanate days, of making high quality brassware.
By this time, I had been used to the constant nagging of vendors. Initially they would eye you like a prey, ask where you are from, then give some trivia about the place or temple you are visiting, even accompany you around and finally ask to look at their wares without obligation to buy. On my way out from Nan Paya, I encountered this young persistent girl who tried to sell her lacquerware. I did look at the items she’s selling but decided not to buy the pair of owls (man and woman) that interested me that I found so expensive at 8000 kyat. As I head to the steps she was pleading. Telling me it would be good luck if I’ll be her first customer. She followed me to the exit with a face almost in tears.