Bamboo crafts on display at White House

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MORE wood carvers in the country are being convinced that bamboo is a sustainable and practical medium for their craft after their industry was almost killed due to waning supply of logs.

After Ifugao wood carvers, Paete, Laguna woodcarvers are now slowly shifting to bamboo carving as alternative medium for their craft with some 20 percent of bamboo carvings now representing religious items from the Southern Luzon town.

Some of their art works, images of the Sto. Niño, a crucified Jesus and the Virgin Mary and Filipino saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, are now on display at the Laperal House known popularly as White House along Leonard Wood Road.


Edgar Manda, president of the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Inc., said the display is timely for the Holy Week. The White House provides tourists and Baguio residents a new place to reflect and meditate as well as a chance to marvel at the woodcarvings.

Known for their skill in carving religious images, sculptors from Paete have slowly embraced bamboo craft making after the passage of Executive Order 23 issued by President Benigno Aquino III ordering a total log ban in the country.

Paete-based sculptor Phaern Afurong said many were discouraged by that time due to the scarcity of wood.

Only after they were introduced to bamboo by PBFI that a renewed enthusiasm was observed among his fellow carvers to continue their craft. Bamboo, quite abundant in the Philippines has limited size and tougher to carve than other types of wood.

Another Paete-based carver, Nestor Cagayat said bamboo is a cheaper carving material and is slowly becoming popular among their patrons.

Paete’s bamboo carvers are able to sell their carvings from P3,000 to P8,000 per sculpture.

According to Manda, religious carvings made by Paete, Laguna and Ifugao sculptors will be exhibited at the Laperal House to showcase the artistry of local artisans and also the usefulness of bamboo.

The PBFI has been extending help to Paete and Ifugao woodcarvers to use bamboo as an alternative carving material as it is easier to grow and source.

Manda said bamboo propagation is very lucrative since every part of the plant can be used (shoots, leaves and trunk).
Bamboo can also help mitigate effects of climate change, reducing 400 percent more carbon emissions in its immediate environment compared to trees.

The foundation plans to come up with a youth summer camp on bamboo propagation, arts and crafts. They have also started partnerships with local governments and other communities for the propagation of bamboo as reforestation material in watersheds. (JM Agreda)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 17, 2014.

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