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.