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    Paete: From Wood Carving to Ice and Vegetable Sculptors

    Paete, a Laguna town proud of the title "Carving Capital of the Philippines," with artists' blood intrinsic in every Paetenian's veins even before the Spaniards came, and yet the carving industry is in a moribund state due to numerous reasons. There currently is a dwindling number of sculptors carving wood due to the scarcity of the precious item from fallen trees.

    The carving industry also gave birth to the taka (papier mache) industry, mostly led by the womenfolks, but is also in its twilight years unless the people and government find ways to arrest the problem.

    While vacationing in Paete, Tutubi chanced upon his neighbor at work, a veteran wood carver still churning out made-to-order religious items.

    wood carvings paete laguna
    paete laguna wood carvingsa station of the cross sample as model
    use of a wooden mallet instead of a hammer
    chisels galore, tools of the trade

    It's a common knowledge that the town got its name from the paet but contrary to popular belief that the paet refers to chisels, it's actually a type of chisel with straight edge (shown below). Locals call chisels pang-ukit. Other types of chisels are the lukob (U-shaped chisel), landay (slightly arched chisel), trespiko or the V-shaped chisel(from Spanish tres pico meaning three peaks), hiwas (chisel with diagonal tip that looks like a scalpel). (There are also odd-shaped and contorted chisels designed for hard-to-reach areas but Tutubi needs his memory refreshed)

    the paet: straight-edged chisel

    The country's total log ban resulted in the dearth of wood making life hard for the carvers, made worse by government indifference (and politicians full of empty promises), lack of fresh ideas of some carvers, increased competition and unethical business practices.

    Sculptors nowadays turn to other medium e.g escayola (plaster of paris), resin, and others in lieu of wood to carry out their sculpting pursuits. New generation of sculptors now work as kitchen artists in hotels and restaurants here and abroad mostly working with ice, vegetable, butter and chocolate creating astounding centerpieces.

    young artists compete at the annual ice carving competition at the town plaza on July 24, the day before Paete town fiesta

    a vegetable carver at work

    Here's a tip: if you're looking for the usual religious items, souvenirs, there are many handicraft stores and souvenir shops at the town center (mainly on Rizal, Quesada and F. Sario St.). There are also sculptures, besides paintings,on display at Kape Kesada. For custom-made wood carvings, you may get in touch with the woodcarvers themselves for discounts, usually much cheaper when bought in Manila. Rates and estimates are always in length/height of the image and the required finish.

    Pictures taken using Canon 300D EF 50mm f1.8
    Other areas with carving traditions include Betis, Guagua in Pampanga, and people of the Cordilleras.

    A marriage of sculpting and painting, called "paintures," popularized by visual artists/brothers Manuel and Angelo Baldemor (a future post).

    Related Posts:
    Ice Carving
    Kape Kesada

    Looking wood carvings stores and shops in Paete? Being a true-blooded son of Paete, he'll soon post a list of shops selling wood carvings and handicrafts, much cheaper that stores in Quiapo, Manila. If you want custom-made carvings, the going rate is usually per foot, say saints, and the final price depends on the finish i.e. varnish or paint (encarna) et al...just leave a comment!

    Labels: , , , ,

    posted by backpacking philippines @ 10:41 PM,


    At Jun 19, 2008, 12:40:00 AM, Blogger watson said...

    Paete has been in my list of places to visit for quite a while now... I wonder when?

    There could have been programs for sustainable development such as planting harvestable trees but such is life with the government...

    At Jun 19, 2008, 12:16:00 PM, Blogger crafter said...

    wow! i just saw this website and its great! i almost went back to paete for the first time in two years last week but i'll definitely go there again.

    cool travel site.

    At Jun 19, 2008, 8:11:00 PM, Anonymous tina said...

    wow. they have nice works.. really. :P

    At Jun 20, 2008, 3:41:00 PM, Anonymous acey said...

    wonderful talents! beautiful works of art!!! wowwww!!!!!

    At Jun 20, 2008, 4:01:00 PM, Blogger kyels said...

    Certainly wood carving isn't easy; the amount of patience needed also the skills! Pero, it's amazing talaga!


    At Jun 21, 2008, 2:58:00 AM, Blogger Photo Cache said...

    I too have been wanting to go to Paete for a long time. Very creative people out there.

    At Jun 21, 2008, 11:42:00 AM, Blogger the donG said...

    i've been to paete once. really nice art. very creative artists!

    what's not good there is the very small road that causes traffic. best thing is to park somewhere and walk your way on the street that displays the wood carvings.

    At Jun 22, 2008, 12:23:00 AM, Anonymous bw said...

    these people have real artistic talents man. They just go and do their thing without much preparation - awesome !

    At Jun 22, 2008, 6:41:00 PM, Blogger tin-tin said...

    wow ang galing! hindi na lang sila sa wood carving :)

    At Jun 23, 2008, 6:04:00 AM, Anonymous RennyBA said...

    What wonderful work of art - thanks for sharing!

    At Jun 23, 2008, 9:07:00 AM, Blogger Lawstude said...

    very talented people. their works could defintely light-up any place.

    At Jun 23, 2008, 12:08:00 PM, Blogger pieterbie said...

    The wood carving must be the more difficult of the disciplines, I guess. They certainly have my admiration those artists!
    I couldn't do that.

    At Jun 23, 2008, 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous caryn said...

    they're really good! we once went there to scope out a possible taka (paper mache) exhibit. galeng galeng!

    At Jul 7, 2008, 9:06:00 AM, Anonymous totem pole said...

    Wonderful skills. Keep up the great work.

    At Jul 26, 2009, 2:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hi, can i kindly ask for referals for these ice sculpt artists, they are really good. if you could kindly email for contact numbers/persons, this is for a wedding event. thanks! - rico

    At Jul 26, 2011, 1:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi, do you have any contact nos. of artists / shops in Paete? I would like to inquire for custom made products.

    Kindly email me at
    Thanks again.

    At Sep 7, 2012, 10:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hello, do you know anyone in Manila who does custom made carving wood works like this? Or contacts of shops/carvers in Paete? Please email me at need it urgently for a project. Thanks!


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