ARTSY LAGUNA. Neighboring lakeshore towns of Lumban, Paete and Pakil share an unparalleled and unique craftsmanship. If Lumban Embroidery is sought after by the fashionistas and Paete Woodcarvings excites art enthusiasts, Pakil’s delicate art of wood shavings is admired both locally and worldwide.
Distinct to the rustic and quiet town of Pakil is the centuries-old religious ritual of the Turumba and an inimitable and delicate version of woodcarving, the art of whittling wood.
WHITTLER’S CRAFT. No one can clearly recall how the art of whittling wood started in Pakil. Some local folks claim that an old man introduced the craft of whittling during the turn of the century. The skill has been passed on from one generation to the next.
Today’s master carvers encourage apprenticeship of interested boys and girls to make sure that this craft distinct only in Pakil continues to thrive.
CONCHITA’S DEXTEROUS HANDS. Conchita Mirabella has been practicing her unique skill of whittling wood since 1977. She showed us knives of different thicknesses and lengths that she uses to create flowers, butterflies, birds, peacocks, swan and fans with intricate details. Delicate filigree is whittled from a young, solid branch of a freshly cut lanite, batikuling, amlang, or quetaña tree. These types of wood are preferred for their malleability and lightness in both weight and color.
Conchita confidently demonstrated her skill. Using a sharp-edged knife, she first smoothens out the wood’s surface by shaving off the rough outer layers. With extreme control, she then carved in the wood with her dexterous hands. Resting down her tools, Conchita spread out the shavings and right before us, a flower took shape and she did all these steps in a matter of minutes.
EPILOGUE. Some wood shavings are dyed while other are left in their natural bleached shade. Conchita’s wood shavings have become popular as gift items, party favors, and even Christmas tree trimmings. Some were mounted and framed to become souvenir items.
Orders have come from different parts of the world. There were occasions Conchita was invited to demonstrate her skill in other countries. And this is another amazing local talent we must be proud of.