Alfonso Arts and Crafts: Promoting Ethnic-Inspired Handicrafts

Artistic. Indigenous. Nifty. Ideal for souvenir items, home and office decors. All these you can find at Alfonso Arts and Crafts along national highway at Barangay Sicayab, Dipolog City.

Alfonso D. Suganob Jr., 43, a high school teacher, started his handicraft business in 2000 with a P50 thousand loan from a teachers’ cooperative. Although he is not a TLE (Technology and Livelihood Education) teacher, he is good at creating home and office decors with ethnic designs.

Today, Alfonso Arts and Crafts is producing customized trophies and plaques, serving tray, flower vase, wine rack, brochure holder, key holder, mortar and pestle, etc. – all made of bamboo and wood.

Bamboo Crafts

For over a decade Alfonso Arts and Crafts was known as A.D.S. Bamboo Crafts, as most of its products were made of bamboo, applying a technology that his brother learned from a nearby manufacturer of bamboo furniture and housewares. That manufacturer has since transferred to Kuta Kinabalu in Malaysia.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) encouraged Suganob to pursue a bamboo craft industry as the raw materials are aplenty in the area. All types of bamboo are available all over the city and its neighboring towns.

Upon DTI’s prodding, Suganob began his new business, but his first month of operation only raked in P265. “My wife blamed me for venturing into this business which, to her, is not profitable,” he told this writer.

Trade fair

With DTI’s help, Alfonso Arts and Crafts participated in four national trade fairs held at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City and one international trade fair in Kota-Kinabalu, Malaysia.

In one of the national trade fairs he joined, he got excited when a certain customer placed his order worth P30 thousand. He immediately delivered the items but the payment did not come. Late did he know that he was swindled. He has been too careful in dealing with customers since then.

One good thing he learned from joining trade fairs was that he was able to compare his products with those from other participating exhibitors, giving him an idea on how to further improve his craft.

Ethnic-inspired designs

His products are not only well-polished and delicately made, but they bear ethnic streaks featuring Yakan, Bagobo, Mandaya and Subanen arts.

“Orders placed by most local government units (LGUs) in Zamboanga Peninsula are more of Subanen arts, as Subanens are the predominant cultural group in the region. They want something reflective of the peninsula,” he said.

He, however, revealed that most of his customers prefer the Yakan design because it is colorful and attractive.

DOST support

Alfonso Arts and Crafts had received an assistance worth P50 thousand from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for its equipment such as wood grinding machine, compressor and others. These sets of equipment are manned by his workers who were all trained by him.

When orders are high, he would take on 16 to 20 workers.

Functional items

Aside from customized plaques and trophies, the Alfonso Arts and Crafts is now also producing “functional items” such as housewares that can be used daily. It is accepting orders for mortar and pestle, serving tray, rice bowl and many others. Its products are sold at the Dipolog City Tourism Display Center situated near the Dipolog Airport, Rizal Park in Dapitan City, and an outlet in Dumaguete City.

Market

As the government is pushing for the inclusion of the country's products in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asian Growth Area), Malaysia is the target market outside the country of Alfonso Arts and Crafts, as it tries to match, if not surpass the quality of products produced by other exporting countries. (FPG/PIA9)


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