Chipping Through History

Paete Travel Blog

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Paete Church
After the sumptious lunch at Arabela's, we headed straight for Paete, another town in the province of Laguna known for its woodcarvers. It was a longer drive than anticipated and the people in Liliw had warned us to expect a huge crowd of people since it was the town's fiesta. 

The drive was quite a pleasant one and we passed through several towns whose charms I had never noticed on family trips to Pagsanjan and Pansol. There main street was lined with beautiful ancestral homes similar to those in Bohol.
Larger-than-life statue
I wondered if those are open to the public and if so, then another trip back to Laguna would indeed be in order. At some point, we were also treated to a gorgeous panoramic view of Laguna de Bay. We couldn't stop for photos though so I just had to take it all in and store it in my own memory bank.

We arrived after about another hour and sure enough, the place was teeming with people. Paete is a very small town that has only one main road from which smaller streets branch out. At least, from what I saw. We made our way to the UNESCO-listed Heritage Shop where we were expected to do an interview with the store's proprietor. The tiny street was packed with stalls selling all sorts of things from clothes to toys, trinkets to second hand mobile phones, pot and pans to home made snacks.

As we stepped inside the shop, we were greeted by our guy, Mr.
Clearly, not the best example of Paete's carved bakyas
Lino Dalay and behind him, an imposing statue of the Virgin Mary standing at over 12 feet tall. It was pretty dim inside and decorated with a melange of local decor - paper maché fruits, vegetables and folk dolls, Venetian-inspired face masks, bakyas and a slew of others. I sat with him as he regaled me with the story of Paete's craft.

Paete has had a long-standing history with a chisel. The town itself is named after it (paet, meaning chisel) and it was this relationship with the instrument that attracted the Spaniards to settle in this modest little town in Laguna. The Paeteños were forced into carving church altars that were shipped out to Spain, Italy, New York and other parts of the world. The Philippines has retained close to 400 of these altars. Aside from altars, they also carved religious figures, busts and urns.
Home & Church decor
Where Liliw is known for their slippers, Paete is famed for their bakyas. It was here where these intricately hand-carved wooden slip-ons made their debut and stepped into the world of footsie fashion during the Commonwealth era. Due to socio-political circumstances, Paeteños were forced to branch out their skills. Paper machés, or taka, were the product of their compliance with the deforestation regulations in the 80s. They also etched a name for themselves in luxury hotels and ship liners by carving fruits, veggies, butter and chocolate.

Recently dubbed as the Carving Capital of the Philippines, Paete continues to preserve its heritage by carving anything they can get their hands on today.

After the interview with Mr. Dalay, we were excorted to their factory.
Fiesta!
We were told however, that the place was a real mess and that there was nothing much to see. It was the town's fiesta and most of what they had produced had either been shipped off or on display somewhere. But we were not to be discouraged and adamant on seeing the workplace just the same. It was only a few meters away, and like the slipper factory in Liliw, this factory was an old converted house. Mr. Dalay was right, the place was practically empty, save for a stage prop waiting for the final touches before it gets sent off to one of the malls in Manila and a few paper mache horses in two of the rooms.

With business out of the way, we attempted to visit the Church. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the ongoing fiesta but the grounds were still a site to be enjoyed. There was a mini carnival set up in the town plaza and an arnis competition going on. We only had enough time for a quick refreshment and it was time to hit the dreadful expressway once again.

This may not have been the best of trips in terms of adventure and excitement, but what everything I took back with me was well worth the traffic. If you can, please do look out for the November issue of Flow Magazine :)

Isabetlog says:
Kelan mo gusto? Taraaaaaa!
Posted on: Oct 01, 2008
planisphere says:
bongang bonga ang simbahan in fairness...kelan tayo babalik?
Posted on: Oct 01, 2008
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Paete Church
Paete Church
Larger-than-life statue
Larger-than-life statue
Clearly, not the best example of P…
Clearly, not the best example of …
Home & Church decor
Home & Church decor
Fiesta!
Fiesta!
Mr. Dalay in his youth (and lookin…
Mr. Dalay in his youth (and looki…
Busts
Busts
Paper maché masks
Paper maché masks
Stage prop
Stage prop
Paete Church
Paete Church
Fiesta popcorn. Why provincial pop…
Fiesta popcorn. Why provincial po…
Paete Church
Paete Church
Plaque
Plaque
98 km (61 miles) traveled
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Paete
photo by: Isabetlog