Sunday, 30 August 2009

How to decorate your wall

Last week I met the owner of a small shop situated near the centre of Naga City. She gets a lot of passing trade and soon the Pe├▒afrancia festival will begin, bringing thousands of out of town visitors to the City and many new and some older buyers to see her. Her shop is adorned with lots of novelties and souvenirs including hand made baskets, wall tapestries and other gift merchandise. Here you can see a picture, neatly made with a bamboo frame to which is attached with cord a picture of a local Jeepney, the means of transport all over the Philippines for millions of local Filipinos. Other attractive pictures can be seen including some of fish with colourful beads and they add a lovely touch to any home wall interior.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Bags and more bags

I was privileged to spend the day yesterday visiting two workshops in a town not far from mine and seeing local workers making bags out of native materials, the names of which are probably as unfamiliar to most western people as they were to me. Materials such as abaca, sabutan, ticog and jute among others were being used to make a wide assortment of beautiful and very decorative carry bags, handbags, hats, wallets, purses, slippers and many other items.

Cotton macrame bags (see picture above on the right), which are entirely made with natural cotton and without any added dies or colours featured among the range of items being made principally for the local market. My aim is to encourage exports and find suitable channels for some of these goods. The workshops were not fully occupied but the producers were ready to step over backwards to be of assistance. Even custom made product is possible for just a few hundred pieces, from selected materials, colour dies, stitching patterns - almost everything is negotiable without any significant price additions. The principle here is to keep the workers occupied and to keep the customers satisfied.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Bamboo surprises

Being a tropical country there are a lot of bamboo plants growing here and a lot of local manufacture using bamboo as its main material. One of the first items I saw during my first trip here was in a yard just off a main street where two young men were working diligently to produce bamboo furniture. These items included a bunk bed with wider than usual top bunk and a double sized bottom bed. The bamboo was of large diameter and had been varnished to give it a good quality finish. I asked them a few questions and learned that it took them just four days to make one of these beds to order. The bed was sturdy and well made and for the price unbeatable value. Here is another suppliers offering of an attractive bamboo lamp. This has small different shaped coloured glass pieces embedded in the side of the lamp so that the light
shines through them when lit - quite beautiful and very decorative.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Bags of Delight

Another example of the ingenuity of the Filipina is her ability to convert rough raw materials from nature into practical objects of everyday use. Here are some pictures of bags made from locally grown abaca, jute, bancuan, raffia, cotton twine and karagumoy materials.

Rochelle is making a selection of more than 40 different styles and colours and helping to support her family as well as enjoying her creative talents which include design and skillful handicraft production. If you want to see more of her selection, dont forget to write and ask for a quotation and for pictures of the complete range of available designs. Albay province in the central Luzon area is the location of her workshop.

Buying bags for multiple use is one way of saving the environment from the vast amounts of plastic bags which have become typically part of our everyday shopping habits and who could resist having a bag so unique and special as part of their shopping accoutrements?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Beauty in Marble

About a days journey from the Luzon area to one of the many beautiful islands off the east coast of the Philippines is the base of a small company which specialises in making beauty in marble.

From small handicrafts such as dolphins and elephants to giant life size statues of animals. At the moment you can see at their workshop a wide variety of exquisite sculptures, to suit almost every pocket and every need. Bathroom fixtures, kitchen utensils, decorative ornaments and even cremation urns - you name it and they will make it. Here are some pictures from their assortment. What they cannot make is probably not worth making.

There is an innate purity in marble and though not all of their pieces is totally hand made they are all hand crafted, some with machine tools to assist them. There is also no limit to the imagination and as well as producing lifesize models of Buddha and Korean priests - they supply the Korean market with these and many other of their marble creations, they also make a dolphin that is almost 2 metres high.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Hidden Virtues

Not far from where I live is a small workshop where I found almost by accident a thriving and very industrious business producing hand made jewelry. Passing by the area you would have no idea that in the yard behind unimposing metal gates was a small company employing only some six or seven personnel, all busily engaged in creating works of art designed by the owner herself.

I was surprised by the extremely professional manner in which Mayan was building up a very impressive portfolio of new work on a regular basis. She designs new items almost every week. She has been in business for only three years and already her experience has produced a wide variety of beautiful jewelry including bracelets, hair pieces, earrings and many others, jewelry that you can wear for formal as well as casual wear, at home or even barefoot sandal jewelry to wear on the beach where you can display feet adorned with attractively made and practical fashions.

Here are just a few of the many designs that she makes with her personally selected staff who create replicas each and every time. As well as selling her collections locally within the Philippines, Mayan has already started selling to small scale buyers in the USA and Canada.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

New to the Philippines?

Anyone who is new to the Philippines or has never been here before will be surprised by a number of things. The first is that most people here speak english, albeit not all fluently. Filipinos use english in almost all conversation, even when speaking tagalog, which is the native tongue and freely intersperse sentences in one or other language. It has become a natural way for Filipinos to communicate and can be heard also on TV programmes. This makes learning to adapt to the Filipino culture much easier as the strain of being a total foreigner is removed and the feeling of intimidation caused by language barriers removed.

The second thing that stands out is the amazing ability of the Filipinos to live in circumstances that would be daunting to most western peoples. While there are some affluent people here and many who might be termed middle class with regard to personal wealth, the vast majority of the citizens of this land are poor, some desperately so and often living in circumstances that give the visitor a deep feeling of unease and even shame at ever complaining of their personal lack. This, topped with the wonderful expression of hospitality and friendliness of the people cannot help but create an affinity of heart and soul with any open minded and receptive visitor.

There is a real need for the Filipinos to be resourceful since their very survival depends on their ability to create income to support themselves as well as their close and often extended family members. This desire to be productive and support their nearest and dearest has led to the growth of a massive mobile employment overseas with some 10% of the entire population working abroad to send home money, without which their families would quite literally be on the street, homeless and without education for their children. It is not unusual for one or other parents to be separated from their families for two years or more at a time. Many work in the nursing sector, others as seamen and a large number as domestic cleaners or caring for the children of their host families. The sacrifices made by these people give real meaning to the phrase "love thy neighbour".

But if I have in a short period of time learned to have an admiration of and love for the people of the Philippines my intention of creating a blog is to attract those who would rather see some of the unique handicrafts which are made and which are available here. And I hope that some will be attracted to buy these locally made articles so that those who make them can obtain income from their labours and be able to contribute to the survival of their families. There will be no exploitation here - just genuine remmuneration for goods and services supplied.

I will be happy to discuss with any and all details of the goods shown on these pages and links and am available by Skype phone or chat whenever you see me online or by email. Regards, Richard