Taka of Paete

Colorful, warm, and whimsical – the taka of Paete have become the epitome of Filipino folk art. They are like the Filipino fiesta painted on papier-mâché figures of dolls in Filipiniana, roosters, carabaos, and fire engine-red horses.

These takas are sold side by side with woodcarvings in shops in this town known for its fine woodcarvers and visual artists.

The exact history of taka-making in Paete is difficult to trace. Old folks claim that Mexican friars introduced taka-making to the pueblo of Paete some centuries ago as a cottage industry for the female population while the males worked on woodcarving.

This perhaps explains why the taka of Paete is linked with the Mexican piñata. While the piñata is decorated with tear up colored paper, the taka of Paete is individually hand-painted with the happiest and vibrant colors and embellished with floral and fancy designs.

The art of taka-making begins with the process by hand carving hardwood sculptures that becomes the takaans or the actual mold where layers upon layers of paper are glued, sundried before the papier-mâché figures are hand-painted.

The vintage papier-mâché molds are sought after by antique collectors but the taka-makers in Paete often refused to sell them for their heritage and cultural value  –in other words they are priceless.

One of the shops in Paete that specializes in taka and other paper craft is the Ang Buhay at Hugis Paete.

Different sizes and color of horses, carabaos, dolls in Filipiniana costume, tropical fruits and vegetables all made of papier-mâché fill the store from floor to ceiling. There also Moriones masks and masks for Mardi Gras that becomes in demand at certain seasons.

Founded by director and production designer Lino Dalay with her 80-year old mother mommy Martha, the store is like a museum of Filipino folk art that showcases Paete’s tangible heritage.

Anting-anting in Quaipo


The Evangelista Street side of Quiapo Church is teeming with vendors of amulets and talismans that allegedly have magical and supernatural powers.

However, vendors are vague about their powers, saying only that they are harbingers of success and provide protection to the bearer against bodily harm, illness, evil spirits, and witchcraft.

Locally referred to as anting-anting, they come in various forms. Professor Nenita Pambid explains that the anting-anting is an amulet, inscribed or engraved on a certain object. It could be an oracion or prayer written on a piece of paper, folded and kept in the wallet, or sewn in a small cloth pouch, or worn pinned on clothing.

The Tagalog-English Dictionary by Jose Garcia Panganiban suggests that the word anting-anting was derived from the Malaysian anting, which means dangling, and in Javanese, anting-anting means ear pendants.

In the many visits we had in Quiapo, we found anting-antings made of metal, wood, cloth, and sundry object sealed in glass bottles.

In the olden days, anting-antings are not commercially sold, instead those in need of a truly powerful talisman would have one made out of some magical substance such as a crocodile tooth or a piece of dried root shaped like a man, or even an aborted fetus kept in a glass vial!

Anting-antings would be sanctified in incantation rituals performed by either a babaylan (priestess) or a witchdoctor or the bearer himself on Good Friday in places like Mount Banahaw or Siquijor.

In one of our trips to Quiapo, we gave in to our acquisitive nature and brought home a handful of those bronze medallions with embossed religious symbols and Latin text. Whatever they’re used for, we think they are excellent pieces of folk religious art.

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The following are the best documentation about the anting-anting. Both articles are by blogger Dennis Villegas:

The Social Psychology of the Anting-Anting | You Shall be Gods: the Culture of the Anting-anting 

Filipino Handicrafts under the Bridge in Quiapo

Last year, we decided to decorate our Christmas tree with small baskets, miniature brooms, sepak takrao balls, wooden wind chimes, bulol idols, stars made from translucent capiz and other similar objects available in handicraft stores under Quezon Bridge.

Honey-combed under this steel and concrete bridge are stores filled from floor to ceiling with local crafts made from indigenous materials. These handicrafts were sourced from various tribal and cultural communities throughout the country.

Our country has a long tradition of producing handicrafts made from natural materials. Blessed with rich natural resources, people from the different cultural communities discovered how to fashion useful and beautiful things out of wood, bamboo, rattan, abaca, coconut shells, capiz, shells, and object abundant in nature.

Skills in basket weaving, wood carving, shells craft, and the technology in using different hand tools to create local crafts were developed and passed on to different generations.

In Filipino homes, local handicrafts are both functional and decorative. We use the versatile walis ting-ting to sweep away the dried leaves from our garden. We prefer to use baskets that come in different sizes, shapes, and color in holding fruits and root crops than placing them in plastic food containers.

The Philippines is one of the world’s leading producers of handicrafts. Locally hand-made crafts are admired world-wide for their versatility, beauty and quality.

To meet the demand of modern living, makers of handicrafts fashioned them into functional and practical items like lamp shades, picture frames, paper weights, key chains. They are also use as souvenirs for weddings and corporate give-away.

Patronizing local handicraft encourages tribal and cultural communities to produce more. In that way we preserve and promote our cultural heritage.

To get hold of these beautiful and exquisite local craft, the handicraft store under the bridge in Quiapo is the place to be.

Quiapo Golden Mosque

One of the outstanding influences of Islam was in architecture. The Alhambra in Spain, Hagia Sofia in Turkey, and the Taj Mahal in India, are some of the few finest architectural wonders of the world.

In the Philippines, mosque are built following the classic Muslim lines; externally, a onion-shaped dome topped by a crescent and the minaret, internally, the prayer-niche that marks the direction of Mecca towards which all Muslims turn in prayer.

In the Muslim Town of Quiapo, the Mosque del Globo del Oro with its dome, painted in gold and vibrant geometric designs is the largest mosque in Manila. This architectural landmark was built in 1976, under the direction of then first lady Imelda Marcos. It is said that the mosque was built to impress visiting Libyan President Muammar Khadafya. However, for some reason, Khadafy’s state visit to Manila was cancelled.

The mosque’s spacious floor area are divided by low columns supporting the pointed arches. The wide arched-windows allow air to circulate freely around the mosques. The natural light that fills the soft yellow walls and gleaming marble floors provides a mellow atmosphere suitable for prayer.

The mosque’s exterior wall are decorated with colorful mosaic-tile patterns of geometric and floral designs called the okir. The okir is a Filipinized version of the arabesque motif in Islamic art. Arabesque design of repeating geometric forms and fancifully combined patters are found decorating the walls of mosque around the word.

The okir traditionally adorns the panalong, the carved wooden beams that protrude the ancestral houses of the Maranaos or the torogan. It is found in local handicraft, woven on textiles and baskets, carved into wooden objects, and etched into knives or brass pieces.

While walking around Quiapo’s Muslim town, we found stores where the okir design combined with Islamic symbols printed on prayer books, etched on brass decorative objects, and embroidered on religious caps.

Pahiyas

Weather is a key factor in the success of the Philippine fiestas. The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon falls on the month when the summer ends and the rainy season begins. But for the townspeople of Lucban, the May 15 fiesta has never been cancelled on account of inclement weather.

Despite the rough winds and heavy down pour of rain brought by the approaching typhoon Cosme on Southern Luzon, the streets of Lucban look as if the rainbow had spilled its color on the houses. Without the uses of lights, there is no greater color spectacle in the Philippines than the Pahiyas.

In the dynamic and artistic town of Lucban, the feast of San Isidro Labrador blossomed into the “pahiyas,” the most original folk celebration found in the country.

Alejandro Roces in the book Fiesta tells the story of Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. “San Isidro is said to have worked only for a wealthy landowner named Juan de Vargas all his life. San Isidro was always in church so his co-workers complained that his piety was keeping him from his work.”

“Vargas went to see for himself and saw that he actually came later than the others. But as he advanced to reprimand him, he saw not San Isidro’s plow, but two others, pulled by teams of snow-white oxen, guided by invisible plowers. He realized that San Isidro was getting supernatural aid and fell on his knees. Most representations of San Isidro depict this scene.”San Isidro has been known as the patron saint of farmers and the festival of San Isidro has become to be known as the “Pahiyas” which means “precious offering.”

The Pahiyas has become the central event in the cultural life of Lucban. The thanksgiving to San Isidro as patron saint of farmers dates back since the 1500. According to oral tradition, the native Tagalogs who settled at the foothills of Mount Banahaw were the first to celebrate the pahiyas during the early Christianization of Lucban, Tayabas (the old name of Quezon Province).

During the pahiyas, all the homes showcase a unique folk art. The route of the march varies every year so that every single street gets its turn to be the processional path. It is along these streets that the façade of homes are decorated with the farmer’s bountiful produce such as root crops, vegetables, rice grains, fruits and Lucban-fame local sausage the longganisa

These organic décor are either strung together to form a curtain or garland or they are arranged to form a tableau sometimes accented with straw dummies dressed in all sorts of attire.  

The leitmotif is the kiping, rice paste that has been shaped into a leaf and tinted in brilliant tropical colors. The kiping are adorned and strung together to form all sorts of shapes, from chandelier called arangya to huge flowers.

According to Roces, these exterior decorations are traditional folk art but they have the trappings of modern art. For the fact is that the pahiyas is nothing else but a three-dimensional collage, or what is known in modern art as assemblage or construction. Modern art sometimes simply consists of giving new high-sounding names to old art.

Information source: Alejandro Roces in Fiesta

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