It was my fascination with collecting elegant vases and jar ceramics that brought us back to Tiwi, Albay. Part of our 2014 summer vacation in our hometown is to visit PHILCERAMICS (Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center) in Barangay Putsan and be amazed by their beautiful products. Memories of the past flashed remembering my childhood toys, the reddish little cooking clay pots, and the chicken coin bank we bought a long time ago in Tiwi town proper after our beach escapade in Sogod Beach Resort. Those were the days of traditional pottery-making in the municipality.
The modern technology of pottery making in Tiwi was introduced by PHILCERAMICS which is now the leading terra cotta ceramic industry in Bicol Region. It is a project of the Department of Trade and Industry funded by the Philippine government.
I found the contact number of PHILCERAMICS in their Facebook account and got acquainted with the manager, Ambet Condat. He gave us clear instructions on how to go to their factory in Barangay Putsan to where the lovely ceramic products are being made.
The journey from Tabaco City to Tiwi town proper was thirty minutes only, passing a picturesque view of Malinao. Four kilometers more and we finally found Barangay Putsan. The village is said to be rich in red clay and feldspar which are the basic materials in pottery making. We passed by lots of dried pots beside the road, meaning, the traditional method is still being used by the locals. And finally, we found the exact location of Philceramics.
The display hall was divided into three sections with sets of a 3-size elegant vase from small (P350), medium (P500), and large (P1,200). Other items were ashtrays (P50-P100), pencil holders (P20-P60), aromatherapy burners (P65 to P300), key-chains (P10), ref magnets P(35), wind-chimes (P75), and lampshades (P65-P100).
The biggest vase costs P500 only. Indeed, it was so affordable compared to what I bought at SM Makati for P1,200. But choosing from the variety of beautiful designs and colors was so chaotic and so confusing. Whew!
We went inside the factory and were entertained watching how a certain jar was molded by hands on top of an electric-driven throwing machine. Men molded the clay while women do the design. We freely explored inside and saw lots of finished clay products in varying shapes and designs.
We’ve learned that three mixtures are used to make a pot, the himulot na pula or the red clay, himulot na itom or the black clay, and baras or feldspar. Then water is added to complete the perfect formula.
I was thankful to PHILCERAMICS for the wonderful items we had in our hands and for providing a sustainable livelihood to the locals through pottery making. I felt so proud witnessing another unique craftsmanship of Filipinos. Cheap but world-class decorative ceramics.
We will go back here next summertime for another “ceramic shopping attack”. Hahaha! Lyn bought a big cooking pot in a nearby store which also sells lovely ceramic pots and traditional figurines.
When we got out from the entrance, one of the storekeepers pointed to us the pile of dried red clay near their store, examined it, and was amazed how nature provided the municipality of Tiwi with this wonderful natural rock.
Next stop, DJC Halo-Halo
In Getting There:
From Legazpi City ride a van en route to Tiwi (P60). Take a jeepney or tricycle ride coming from town proper en route to Barangay Putsan. Special tricycle ride costs P70.
Contact Number of Mr. Ambet Condat – 09283962485
Location: Barangay Putsan, Tiwi, Albay
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