Traditional Pottery Making near Sibalom River
by UTROS in Philippines
October 31, 2019
BARI SIBALOM, ANTIQUE 31 OCT 2019 – Traditional pottery making in Barangay Bari in Sibalom, Antique is a very famous town when it comes to quality pot making. Someone who makes pottery is usually called a “potter” locally termed as Manugdihon. One of the primary sources of income in this barangay is pottery making aside from farming and fishery. They use the traditional method of collecting clay found near the Sibalom River and use wooden paddles to manually mold the clay.
A palayok is a clay pot used as the traditional food preparation container in the Philippines. Palayok is a Tagalog word; in other parts of the country, especially in the Visayas, it is called a kulon; smaller-sized pots are referred to as anglit. The palayok is made of earthenware, a porous ceramic material. This allows steam from cooking to evaporate out of the pores in the earthenware. Earthenware is made of clay produced in a swampy area and a clay field, or in open fields near riverbanks. The materials used in manufacturing these clay products are clay, fine sand and the proper proportion of water.
We interviewed Mrs. Vergie Aldemeta, a 49 year old a local and potter from the Bari. We also got the chance to meet the awesome people of the Association of Manugdihon in Bari Sibalom.
Pottery making in Bari is very traditional. Clay is sourced from the fields near Sibalom River. It was perfect timing when we visited Brgy. Bari because potters are collecting clay during that time. We walked through a small trail going down to Sibalom River. We’re amazed to saw women dug huge and separating soil to transfer from sack to sack. Another worker will bring the sack of clay to a balai where it will temporarily stored. The clay collected must not be exposed to sunlight as it can harden the clay easily. The clay will be knead barefoot or paglinas to remove air bubbles and then it is mixed manually to remove small pieces of rock. Ate Vergie tearfully shared how she started pot making at a very young age of 12. Most of the potters including Ate Vergie weren’t able to enter school due to financial problem and she needs to help her parents to put food on the table therefore she must do the work to provide enough food for the family to live.
Paghurma or molding process – the clay is now placed in a wooden paddle or known as ‘Potter’s wheel’ with two handles both sides to maneuver the desired shape, the potters cautiously paddles using a piece of cloth which is called ‘diririt’ and a special stone called “tulya” from bato bantiling is used to polish to the outer part of the ware to achieve the final texture of Kuron or clay pot. The finish product will sit for at least 5 days to dry. During the rainy seasons, the production is also interrupted as the pot requires to dry before proceeding to firing. They usually doubled all the pot supplies to bring it to the market during the summer.
Pagpagba or firing is the last process of pot making. Once a piece has been completed and dried, it is ready to fire. Firing is a crucial part of the process, firing which takes only about one hour or two to cook the pots. They use dagami (dried rice hay), ramay (dried banana leaves), tuod (bamboo trunks) and dried woods. The changes of color occur in the firing turning the color into red. Firing completes the process of the pot making.
We do not let any opportunity pass, we used the visit as an opportunity to do something we have not done. Ate Vergie indulged us in trying the process of making one for ourselves. We knew that it’s not gonna be any easier in our part as pot making required practice, control, and focus.
Philippine pottery was discovered during the period when the use of metals flourished, about 2000 years. Perseverance is an essential element in pottery industry, a willingness to learn and practice are some important effort required.
Bari Pottery Products are Kalan, Banga, Vase (any size), Koron/Palayok, Hanging pots and Figurins. *They also accept personalized on a pre-ordered basis.
For those interested to order and help their livelihood
You may reach Ate Vergie
Visit them at Brgy. Bari Sibalom, Antique or every Tuesday on Sibalom Market Day.