In the humble town of Samal, Bataan (around 63.28 km. road distance from Manila) lies the Samal Sea where capiz shells thrive. These raw materials are ingeniously brought to light by Samalenos particularly the town mayor, Mayor Generosa “Gene” dela Fuente. The town’s pride in the abundance of these shells are palpable in the municipal hall where parts like the ceiling and columns shimmer with hundreds of capiz shells.
Capiz-making in Samal only started this year, which makes it a budding cottage industry in Luzon. According to Sam Lazarte, an employee of the municipal hall and who delivers the capiz products to merchants in Manila, it was in January when they last harvested the capiz shells. It usually takes four months or so to harvest another group of shells. Presumably, this May or June will be the right time to yield capiz.
Crafting various products out of raw capiz material is a long process and requires a lot of effort. The activity is done in a workshop in the mayor’s house. Moises Cabrera, the managing officer of capiz-making in Samal, showed us the fundamental steps.
Capiz raw materials are harvested from the Samal Sea. They are bought for Php450 per kilo.
Collected capiz shells are then cleaned using muriatic acid and will undergo heat through an oven. Next, the cooked capiz shells are cooled and dipped in hydrogen peroxide. After dipping, they are then kept in a closed container the whole day.
Shells are pounded while some are shaped to serve as the glaze of the product.
Pounded and shaped materials are applied on the pattern. The pre-finished product will be coated using resin for a shiny effect (this is called the lamination process) and paint will be applied to add color and life to the product.
Mayor dela Fuente also explained that the craftsmanship in creating exquisite products like lamps, chandeliers, wind chimes, and bowls to name a few also aims to establish an industry wherein the town will be hopefully recognized in the future as “the capiz capital of the Philippines.”