By Artemio A. Dumlao
Now, buyers and would-be art collectors of high-quality bamboo carvings are showing great interests in the works of the newly formed Asin Bamboo Carvers Guild, Philippine Bamboo Foundation president Ed Manda enthusiastically declares at the heels of a successful competition and exhibit that featured the works of decades-long and revered Ifugao wood carvers, touted as one of the world’s best wood carvers.
Some prospective buyers are even willing to purchase PBF-commissioned bamboo artworks by as much as P35,000.
At its birth more than a year ago, each was pegged only at P25,000.
Gaining more and more popularity and international quality, Manda said the art pieces might command a bigger prize when the exhibit is unveiled at Hotel Sofitel in Manila soon.
Already, three to four of the bamboo art works of the Asin guild were displayed in exhibits in and out of the country in the past months and according to the PBF, these have received positive responses from would-be buyers.
“We want to assure our bamboo carvers that our assistance to them will go a long way. We will not leave them behind because it has been our commitment to help the industry grow into a world-class business for the benefit of improving the living condition of their respective families,” Manda said.
PBF treasurer, Prudencio Teodoro Jr., even thought of suggesting to purchase the top 10 bamboo crafts of the guild to inspire the carver that there is bright future for them in the global market once they are able to maintain high-end crafts.
PBF last year helped organized the Asin Bamboo Carvers Guild after the foundation noted the uniqueness of the talents and skills of the woodcarvers mostly from Ifugao, the same old popular “folk artists” carving life-sized carved warriors, eagles, and you “name-it-they-have-it industry” including the well-known and talked about now banned phallic ashtrays and barrelman.
At present the Asin bamboo carvers guild has 47 active members but some of the finest woodcarvers still have to join.
“Back To Life”
PBF led the formation of the guild to provide an alternative and sustainable source of income to woodcarvers in the wake of the lack of forest products as raw materials with the policy on total log ban.
As a contribution to reforestation even, the effort even booted the bid to reforest denuded mountain areas with mass propagation of various varieties of bamboo, Manda said.
Like Xinjiang, in China which has a similar topography with Baguio and Benguet, Manda said, the effort can pioneer the now flourishing green economy of China.
Accordingly, the total value output from the China’s bamboo industry was pegged at more than U.S $10 million aside from the 35 million jobs the industry is providing.
Manda is optimistic that the local bamboo industry will be a multi-billion industry 25 to 30 years from now if both the local government units and the private sector join hands in ensuring to plant more than one million bamboo in Baguio and Benguet.
“Reforest Balding Areas With Bamboo”
Soon, barren and balding mountains in northern and central Luzon provinces will become bamboo forests.
At least 3,000 hectares of barren mountains will turn into bamboo forests in less than a year, the PBF noted.
The widest bamboo plantation to reach 2,500 hectares will be in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. Also in barangay Ambassador, Tublay in Benguet – 100 hectares, 80 hectares each in La Union, Ambuclao, Bokod, Binga, Tinongdan, Itogon and Kapangan, Benguet and another 50 hectares in Baguio City.
The PBF wants bamboo plantations to become a decent source of livelihood and food for the host communities, aside from providing forest cover and aiding against soil erosion.
Plantations could last for more than 100 years, Manda said, adding, if people will be able to strictly follow the techniques in the planting and harvesting of bamboo.
The phyllostachys aurea variety of bamboo has been identified by experts to thrive best in mountain ranges and could be used in just seven months to one year.
It was found out earlier that the Cordillera hosts at least a thousand species of bamboo.
At least 700 seedlings are required to reforest one hectare of barren mountain.
People living near bamboo plantations could derive their food by harvesting the bamboo shoots and use the poles for crafts to earn income, the PBF also cited.
Already, a bamboo forest project in Benguet was established in cooperation with the office of Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, and SN Aboitiz Power Corporation-Benguet.
The establishment of a bamboo forest in La Union is in cooperation with Holcim Philippines while the Fort Magsaysay bamboo forest is with the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Apart from its multiple uses, the PBF explains that bamboo has higher carbon sequestration properties equivalent to 35 percent more than the carbon sequestration of pine and assorted trees. ***Artemio A. Dumlao***