Preserving the antique furniture and wooden icon industry of San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

SAN VICENTE, Ilocos Sur — If one is keen on high-quality wooden furniture with intricate and beautiful designs,  San Vicente town is one of the perfect places to visit.

Going down to this town, one can see how residents are still seriously pursuing their love for their antique furniture industry. There may not be big shops, but residents in their own house yards have been diligently carving, polishing furniture from hard wood, especially from the wooden posts and slabs of destroyed old houses.

To maintain the industry, the local government unit led by Mayor Nancy Tabanda has conducted trainings for residents to enhance their carving skills.

In 2015, a training on the carving of Catholic saints image was conducted.  Tabanda said that this must be preserved, so that the antique wooden images must be brought forth to the present’s modernity where plastics are used as alternate materials used in making these images.

Last year, trainings on making furniture, and even miniature furniture, were also organized to encourage the youth to learn the trade and to continue what their ancestors are known for.

“One of these youth said that it was hard to carve these small furniture, but the product when finished wiped away the hardship,”Tabanda said.

She added, “Teaching the youth how to carve the wooden images of Catholic saints not only preserves the industry, but brings back the culture of this town where these were once what it was known for.”

To help the residents market their products, the LGU built a trade center near the municipal hall manned by a municipal employee.

It also leads the residents in displaying their products in various trade fairs in the province, and in other provinces, and even in Metro Manila.  In terms of global marketing, all who are engaged in the business make sure their products adhere to international standards.

Further, San Vicente was also featured by a renowned author, Dr. Abercio Rotor, in his “Living with Nature-School on Blog.”

Rotor wrote that the town was dubbed “the little Florence during the Spanish times” and  described the various beautiful designs of furniture.”

He said residents here know their products and added “If you are a native of San Vicente, you can instinctively identify if a piece of furniture is a product of your town.”

He also mentioned that the “carro of the grieving Mother Mary and of Christ carrying a cross are the most exquisite and decorative. Both carro and religious icons that attract tourists are the works of the Castillo and Lazo sculptors, the late Mauro Castillo and Jose Pepe Lazo, Sr, among them.”

“The masters of their generation may have gone, but their words are legendary evidences of a golden era that has put San Vicente on the maps as the maker of the finest furniture in the region – if not over the world,”Rotor said.

With the LGU keen on preserving the industry, the residents are hopeful it will take them still to many years in the future as it is their major source of livelihood.#