Wood Carving Masterpieces from the Philippines

If there’s one place in the Philippines where wood carving among the locals has continued on as a centuries-old tradition, then it would certainly be the quaint lakeside town of Paete, in Laguna.  Among the Paetenians, which is how the locals are called, are numerous craftsmen who are exceedingly skillful in the use of different wood chisels without the need for machinery such as wood mills or wood lathes.  It is for this simple fact that this town is made famous the world over.

The masterpieces of Paete have crossed the Philippine shores to be found in museums, palaces and churches across the globe.  Murals, statues, bas reliefs, and pulpits from Paete may be found in several world renowned landmarks.  Some of these famous sights are St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, San Cayetano Church in Guanajato, Mexico, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Madison Avenue, New York City.  The Philippines has its own share of masterpieces and these can be found various churches across the country.  The Ayala Museum in Makati City, Philippines also houses some of Paete’s wood works.

A recognition given to Paete was given in March 2005 by Philippine President Arroyo.  She proclaimed this mountainous little town as the “Carving Capital of the Philippines.”  The most notable recognition was given to Paete by the town’s own local hero.  Mariano Madriñan was a master artisan and a noted religious sculptor.  His masterpiece, the Mater Dolorosa, has earned an esteemed recognition in Amsterdam in 1884 during the Amsterdam International Exposition.  A gold medal and a diploma of honor were bestowed by the King of Spain, Alfonso XII.

In 1858, the year Madriñan was born, the town of Paete was already known for its wood carving works of art.  Madriñan himself was exposed to this craft at an early age.  Even in his later years, he has continued to create his life-like masterpieces.

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