I have long suspected that there is a tremendously talented group of craftsmen and women behind the structures and details of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. In this series of images, we were given access to the workshops of Las Casas and the opportunity to photograph these artists. What struck me most is the collaborative nature of the endeavour, sculptors work alongside plaster makers and teams of mosaic artisans work alongside welders. It all comes together to create the historic buildings of Las Casas.

'gallery right' 'gallery right'
'gallery right' 'gallery right'
Photo 1 of 15 Good craftsmanship is at the heart of every piece created by the artisans in Bataan
Photo 2 of 15 A native of Paete, Laguna, the Carving Capital of the Philippines, 83-year- old Celestino Fadul or “Ka Celing” is the first & oldest sculptor in Las Casa Filipinas de Acuzar. His talent surfaced at the age of 25. He has worked with National Artist for Visual Arts, Carlos “Botong” Francisco on a 14-panel mural that depicts the history of the Philippines. In 2006, he started working in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, sculpting wood, marble & rocks. His creations are displayed in different spots on the property
Photo 3 of 15 Abner Suminta has been with Las Casas’ metal works department for six years now. This section is responsible for fabricating ironworks such as window grills, chairs and table frames made of steel, trusses, channel and many more
Photo 4 of 15 Ladies painstakingly stick fiberglass cuttings to match each colour of paint used in the design. Besides fiberglass mosaic, they are also capable of creating other crafts such as capiz lampshades and coconut plates
Photo 5 of 15 A group is responsible for the ceiling tiles made from either plaster of Paris or mosaic tiles. For the plaster of Paris, Raphael Amante, fondly called “Kuya Paeng”, casts the boral using a mould. After casting, the tiles are painted with a primer and, consequently, with the desired colours. Once ready, Amante installs the ceiling tiles and retouches the designs on the site
Photo 6 of 15 The Machuca department specialises in fabricating concrete tiles using steel moulds of varying designs. Theses moulds, once filled with cement and other necessary materials, are compressed under a heavy- duty machine press to integrate all the materials poured into it
Photo 7 of 15 Head of the wood arts department, Ricardo Mazo introduced wood mosaic works or marquetry. He is knowledgeable about how wood reacts to different elements such as light, air, heat & humidity. His team is composed mostly of ladies, for they are known to be patient & detail-oriented—characteristics required when creating intricate wood arts. Wood as a medium of art is very limited in colours; to be able to produce accurate depiction of paintings by Fernando Amorsolo, Botong Francisco & Juan Luna is a challenge
Photo 8 of 15 A collection of wood sculpture by Celestino Fadul using scrap wood. His innate talent allows him to masterfully carve the wood no matter the size or thickness
Photo 9 of 15 Jasper Cascasan’s task at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar’s brick factory is moulding and pressing the clay, which he will then bake and leave in a pugon (wood-fired oven) for days. Brick is a type of block used to build walls, pavements and other masonry works. Las Casas’ brick factory uses clay and soil in making bricks and tegula for roof
Photo 10 of 15 53-year-old Arnold Flores has been working as a sculptor in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar for four years, creating intricate hand-carved wood and styro pieces
Photo 11 of 15 Toby “Bong” Fabon, 49, is a painter and the head of fiberglass mosaic and wallpaper design department. Fiberglass mosaic can be used on walls and the ceiling
Photo 12 of 15
Photo 13 of 15 Mosaic tiles. Tiles with different colours. The head artist will do the design whether it is a chair, stall, table and others. The group will patiently break the tiles depending on the colour design and put around the object
Photo 14 of 15 Leader Reynaldo Manalo together with masons Jason Punzalan and Adrian Mejano are in charge of the Machuca department. The same workshop brings other cement-based products such as granulitic tiles and balusters
Photo 15 of 15 Another woodwork by the sculptor Cesar Fadul that can be found in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Credits

Photography  

Paco Guerrero

Words  

Maritess Garcia Reyes

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