Rings and Things
JEWELLERY has always played an important part in the life of the Filipino: since ancient times they have adorned their bodies with amulets and charms made from natural products as a way of showing their status.
Pretty cowry shells gathered around the shores of Panglao Island and strung together were once a symbol of wealth and could be exchanged with upland farmers for rice and other goods.
Today, shells from Panglao are still used for adornment in many various ways, and not just by island women but also by women all over the world.
Shells gathered around the island have been turned into many different decorative and useful items, and have become big business for some people and has diverted some attention away from fishing as the sole means of livelihood. So has the use of many other natural products, like timber and bamboo, which, with the ingenuity and skills of the Filipino, is being turned into furniture which graces homes all over the world.
Beds, chairs, settee's and table sets are made daily by local artisans and carvers who are willing to attempt anything which customers want for individual settings. Solid bamboo furniture is made just outside of Panglao town, just past the cockpit on the central road.
Many of the handmade products turn up in shops and stores in Tagbilaran and at resorts around Panglao, or locally made jewellery can be bought for a few Pesos any day at Panglao market or across the road where you can watch it being manufactured behind the Shell Museum.
Every item bought locally helps Panglao residents to carve their way to a better life for themselves and their children.
Like some visitors in the past, you might get the idea to buy up some stock and take some trinkets home as samples for sale to friends and relatives. You could make a profit from your stay on the island, or even start your own import business with Panglao produced products, which will give you the excuse to come back to the island time and time again!
The people of Panglao are very clever with their hands when it comes to producing material supplied by nature because, over the centuries, they have not had the benefit of modern technology to do things for them.
Across the other side of the island, close to the Bohol Beach Club entrance, watch out for the two carpenter-craftsmen who live on opposite sides of the road and display their workmanship for all to see in an open-air ‘showroom’ by the side of the road.
In the past, the area has been the display center for all sorts of furniture, including enough desks and chairs to outfit a whole school, but the main thrust of production appears to be elegant and robust outdoor furniture that looks like it will last for a century or two.
With the arms made to resemble old wagon wheels, they have been matched with rough-hewn planks to form stylish garden furniture, which is mainly produced for export.
Waiting for buyers also are several more outdoor furniture ideas in the form of patio tables and chairs in solid-looking and fashionable manufacture. A few meters away, several small banca boats always seem to be constantly under construction for local fishermen.
On the central road of the island, a different style of garden furniture is made from car and lorry tires, which now have a second chance of giving pleasure to their new owners, instead of ending up on the junk pile. Also near Lourdes is Panglao Rattan, a modern company using traditional materials and local skills to produce beautiful furniture for export.
Wherever you look on Panglao - almost down every side turning and on most of the beaches - you will find someone hard at work using their hands.
The tools being used may sometimes look primitive and time-worm, but the people of Panglao are proud of their ability to turn what looks like nothing into something to be admired and forever useful to someone else.
Kilroy Was Here © 2006