After Jessica Sanchez, Samal’s capiz products now in limelight
SAMAL, Bataan—As this town started to settle down from the frenzy brought about by the American Idol finals stint of their town mate, Jessica Sanchez, local officials are focusing on a distinctly Filipino product made by local craftsmen.
Cely Guinto, 59, town agriculturist, says assorted products made from capiz shells are helping them realize the vision that capiz will be the “next big thing” out of Samal (population 33,867 as of 2007).
Guinto says the creation of Samal’s capiz products begins when fishermen harvest capiz shells from the sea.
The outer shell of the marine mollusk, Placuna placenta, she says, is then cleaned and processed so it can be used in lamp shades, windows and ornaments.
Capiz, also known as windowpane oyster, can be found and harvested abundantly in the waters of Samal. The town, local officials say, maintains a 1.5-hectare capiz sanctuary.
Jovy de la Cruz, a member of the Kaliwanag Livelihood Association, says nothing is wasted out of the harvest because they use the meat to make kropek (crackling).
“Our only problem is that if there’s red tide, we can’t use the meat. But the craftsmen can still use the outer shell to make their products,” De la Cruz explains.
Agnes Alisbo, KLA chairperson, says that the group hopes to make capiz a major source of livelihood for residents in this town.
“If every member of the organization gets involved, the benefits increase for all of us. We’re promoting capiz shell and meat to become the distinctive products of Samal,” she says.
Alisbo says Samal’s One Town One Product program is focused on making capiz products known.
“You can see it everywhere in the town,” she says, noting that the town hall’s furnishings are made of capiz. “Every little decorative element in our town hall is made of capiz.”
Mayor Generosa de la Fuente says the quality of Samal’s capiz products is acceptable to the export market.
“Capiz is one of our prime commodities. Every other year, we harvest about 500 tons of Capiz, which are then made into various products. We want to reclaim the (title) of being the primary capiz manufacturer (in the country). We want our capiz products to be as well known as Jessica [Sanchez],” De la Fuente says. “At the moment, we’re also starting the meat processing of various shellfish.”
In 2005 the local government trained residents to sustain the industry, says Edilberto Santos, a craftsman specializing in capiz products.
“There were about 16 trainees, but I was the only one left. Now, even if I am 76, I can still continue this. I do not have enough capital, but I can produce a modest volume for export,” Santos says.
Santos works alone, but may hire extra workers if there are big orders. He also trains local craftsmen to ensure that the industry will flourish.
Santos says several clients—from homeowners to firms running restaurants and hotels—come to him to execute their designs.
A capiz product’s price ranges from P400 to P1,000, which the Department of Trade and Industry has set as base prices.
“But the price can go higher based on the design and other requirements of the customer,” Santos says.