Woodcarving of Paete, Laguna

Carving Capital of the Philippines: Paete, Laguna

In the northeastern part of the Province of Laguna, located is an inland town of Paete. A town that is about 113 kilometers away from Manila, along the scenic Laguna de Bay. The small town of Paete was founded around 1580 by Spanish friars, Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Ongresa. Before the arrival of Spaniards in the town of Paete, it is believed that the first inhabitants of the place were of Malay lineage, coming all the way from Borneo in their swift and sturdy boats called “Balangay”. Prior to being a Christian settlement under the Spaniards’ occupation, the town was first part of Pueblo de Lumban. Initially, Paete was called as Pueblo de San Lorenzo, as derived from the first Patron Saint San Lorenzo Ruiz, given by the missionary priests.

Woodcarving of Paete
Woodcarver of Paete Photo credit: Jay Javier http://eastofherewestofthere.blogspot.com

But, where does the name Paete came from? According to town’s story, once there was a young Franciscan priest who was asked by his superior to pay a visit to the new settlements situated along Laguna de Bay. With little knowledge about the territory, the young priest asked a native for the name of the place. Mistaken by the question of the priest, the native thought that he was asked for the name of the tool he was using. The native replied Paét (chisel) thus, the name Paete derived from.

Although, Paete is very small compared to its neighboring towns, the town became popular for its woodcraft, the artisans, its highly skilled craftsmen, and its rich culture. With the religious influences from the Spaniards, no wonder most of the products in Paete have primarily religious themes. The exquisite talents of Paeteños reached overseas and the superb craftsmanship of their works reportedly displayed and used in some countries such as the Vatican and United States. It is also a given fact, that the town’s hero is not a soldier nor a statesman but a wood-carver, Mariano Madriñan. The master artisan, Mariano Madriñan, whose finest obra maestra, the life-like Mater Dolorosa, was honored by the King of Spain with the prestigious award  in Amsterdam in 1882.

Pioneering the industry of woodcarving, Paete have a great reputation for  handcrafted  wooden products. Aside from religious wood carvings, the town became distinguished for wooden shoes (bakya) beautifully handcrafted and chiseled in various remarkable designs. It also believed that the modern yo-yo, which originated in the Philippines, was invented in Paete. Today, the town still continues to keep the impeccable traditions and skills of woodcarving. This lucrative industry unfastened several other crafts, like woodcarving, furniture making, papier-mache, paper pulp, resin and countless notable creations from the town declared as the Carving Capital of the Philippines on March 15, 2005 under Presidential Proclamation No. 809.

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Con mucho amor,


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