Written by Gian Carlo Arcenal, B.S. in Chemistry IV.
The 4th of April 1970 will perhaps always be remembered by the couple Mamerto Guintibano and Coronacion Aguelar as one of the happiest and most blessed day of their lives. Perhaps, even the people of brgy. Nalundan, Guimbal ought to be too, seeing as how this man was the catalyst, the spark of how barangay Nalundan became a hotspot of the booming rattan and bamboo crafting business that it is today. Sit back and relax, and hear the tale of this artisan’s heritage.
Born from the love of Mamerto Guintibano and Coronacion Aguelar-Guintibano, Domingo Guintibano grew up in their humble home in Passi City. His father was from Leganes, Iloilo and mother from Passi City. Mr. Domingo Guintibano was influenced in the craft of rattan and bamboo crafting relatively early in life as he recalled to having been already helping his father’s modest bamboo and rattan shop in Passi at the tender age of Five (5).
I was simultaneausly surprised and thrilled as I’ve learned that manong “Doming”, as how he first introduced himself to me, learned crafting from his father, and his father from his father’s father. Out of all the craftsmen I may have by chance approached for this project, the one I had approached was someone who got the art of rattan and bamboo crafting as a heritage from his late father who unfortunately died young due to complications from his various sickness and diseases, fortunately, to the relief of the late Mamerto, unlike him who must have passed away bearing all the pain of all his sickness and diseases, his dearest wife, Coronacion, died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 68, just five years ago.
As a young boy, nong Doming fondly recalled that the greatest motivation he had in helping his father in making various furniture in their little shop at Passi, was, like others at his age, money, the most treasured allowance. Manong Doming would get his allowance for assisting his father. Allowance that he would later use for his schooling, playing, etc. Thus, seeing as how nong Doming did the art of rattan and bamboo crafting as a source of allowance, and later as his main source of income, manong Doming focused on the functional aspect of his craft. But given enough time, and the design to not be too complicated, manong Doming testified that he could produce rattan and bamboo crafts also for aesthetic purposes.
Manong Doming, from the tender age of five to his current age of forty-five, did nothing but craft, craft, and craft, from helping at his father’s shop in Passi, to finding employment at Iloilo City shipping rattan and bamboo crafts abroad, to establishing his own business in barangay Nalundan Guimbal, Iloilo. Mr. Domingo Guintibano undeniably has a vast collection of experiences for the art. Thus, doing the craft for such a long time, curious, I asked nong Doming whether there are significant differences between the way things are done back then and now. Mostly, things remained the same, he says. There were no significant design changes, no ‘’lost in time” pieces of furnitures, at least at the time of his childhood. Although he did remember that at that time, what was common back then was that instead of todays’ standard of using 2×2 inches blocks of wood in furniture making, back then, it is more common to use a 2×3 block of wood, making the furnitures back then a lot heavier than today’s.
Now then, if Mr. Domingo Guintibano is from Passi, just how did he get himself to Nalundan? Manong Doming stayed and grew up at Passi City; Only leaving the city the day he got married. Manong Doming met his wife while working at his father’s shop. Now manong Doming may not be that outspoken, but in his brief choice of words, he recounted how lucky he was, “That was lucky!” he says, to not look for it, but just meet it.
Domingo Guintibano and tita Cheryl Guintibano 1st met at his father’s shop at Passi, he recounted. They got married at what nong Doming said as already quite late, when nong Doming was already 33 years old. Ta Cheryl, being from Nalundan, and having quite a sizeable piece of land there, they have decided to stay and transfer for good there. Manong Doming and Cheryl was blessed with two kids, Doryl An, the elder sister, was born on June 16 2004 and is currently a grade-7 student. Dhyjey, on the other hand, was born on January 29 2006, a grade-6 student. Together, they lived a harmonious life at barangay Nalundan Guimbal.
Nong Doming, having refined his skills almost throughout his entire life, decided to put up the same field of business he had grown up to, in Nalundan; Now being the owner of the shop himself. Nong Doming decided to register his wife’s land as the site of his soon to be shop, just about after the newly expanded road in Nalundan, where you seem to be riding the waves beside the road, rather than that of a well-built, newly paved road as it should have been, but that is a different matter altogether.
Manong Doming, as I’ve come to know him in our brief meetings and encounters, is, as simple as I could put it to, a simple man, contented with life, hardworking, and modest. And perhaps it was due to this modesty of his, that where one could put up his name for something honoring himself, i.e the name of a store or shop etc. manong Doming chose not to. At first, I even thought it was not his shop for the name of the shop is “Dennis’ Rattan Shop” Furthermore, reinforcing my thought of his modesty and humility was the fact that he did not put up a signboard for the name of his shop. Although it may also be because there is no need to even put up a signboard, for at the time, as I have briefly mentioned before, his shop was the 1st ever shop built not just in barangay Nalundan, but the whole of Guimbal, displaying Rattan and Bamboo artisanship! What use would a little signboard be when you’ve got no competitors to begin with, Right? Now here’s the question we all are itching to hear the answer to, what is the story behind the name of the shop? As it goes, nothing much actually, he says, just that when he was writing the name of the shop for the application of permit, he told me that he just suddenly remembered his nephew Dennis, that is why it became the name of the shop today. As gag as the reason as it could seem to be, I swore that that is what he told me. Now with the shop on one hand, and a loving wife on the other to support him, nong Doming is now ready for another part of his story.
One thing that really amazes me about manong Doming is that aside from learning the craft from his father at the young age of five (5), manong Doming also was, as already said, the one who first put up a rattan and bamboo crafts shop in Guimbal! Today, Nalundan already has many of such shops, and it may very well probably be due to manong Doming’s influence, and the shop’s influence to the locality. Consequently, it may just be the reason why as modest as nong Doming is, at the day he told me that he was the first one to put up such a shop, an uncontainable pride seems to exude from nong Doming himself, showing how proud he was of what could only be called an accomplishment.
Having the opportunity, as a student and appreciator of art this class wanted me to become, I immediately asked what tips and tricks an aspiring rattan and bamboo artisan should know in pursuing this craft. He only told me to have two vital character traits, especially when you are just starting, to have patience and persistence. I also asked him of his inspiration while weaving those rattans and crafting bamboos, at this point in time, I already am greatly impressed and idolize Sir Doming, it is for his family that he work his self so tiringly, and unceasingly, to be able to provide for his family, I see in Sir Doming a sincerity so crystal clear you cannot avoid but be charmed in.
After that, manong Doming Showed me the various materials and equipment they use. They use common building materials such as hammer, saw, and small fine nails locally known as “kalabitos” they also uses “balagon” ”binangon” and to the surprise of some, Gas and Burner, lastly, nong Doming introduced me to what he called an equipment they use specifically for rattan and bamboo crafting, the spoke shave! After the brief tour, I then asked for the general procedure for the making of the art. Manong Doming readily taught me, in 5 simplified steps. 1st and foremost, procure the materials and equipments, nong Doming told me that their rattan and bamboos still came all the way from Palawan. Usually, the most common materials and equipments would be: (1) rattan wickers (2) rattan poles and (3) the materials enumerated above. 2nd, scrape the rattan wickers. 3rd, shave and adjust the thickness of the rattan poles, 4th, mold the rattan poles based on the design you are working on, 5th and lastly, weave the rattan wickers.
With years of experience, nong Doming and his colleagues seems to be already at the peak of their abilities, seeing as how amazingly, they said that they can finish a reclining chair in just merely 2 days. A whole bench in just a day, a rocking chair also only takes up a day. The back-rests, technically called splats of a sofa bench and can be interchangeably be used as the seating platform of the sofa bench itself, 3 pieces of it can be finished in a single day, even without compromising the quality of the product. A testimony of their efficiency.
Surely, it can’t be argued that Sir Domingo Guintibano already has come a long way since he first scraped his rattan wickers. When he first put up his shop, he told me that it was only him and a few of his nephews, today, the place is much more lively with the increase of artisans working in the shop, about 15 people, he said, the most as I’ve observed in the number of shops concentrated in Nalundan; Artisans who are at the same time his relatives. Throughout his story, it really came apparent to me that the heritage he received from his father, can already be said to be a family tradition, for his colleagues right now in his shop was no mere strangers, but bonded to him by blood. Majority of his companions in his shop are his relatives, and asked whether he would let his children follow in his footsteps, nong Doming, as supporting as a parent can possibly be to his children, answered that if it is what they want to do, then why not?
I really consider myself lucky to have come across a heritage passed through the same bloodline.
Mr. Domingo Guintibano
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