As a teenager, i was always fascinated with century-old buildings in my home town in Sariaya, Quezon as well as the old churches in its nearby towns of Tayabas and Mauban.
During my high school days, Mrs. Lucita Raga and Ms. Agnes Da Silva used to accompany me to conferences in different regions in the Philippines as my advisers/mentors. Their influence is still evidenced by my fascination with culture and history. When my wife Eve told me about Escuela Taller in Maribojoc, Bohol, i wasted no time in getting information about the school that trains youth in preserving and restoring century-old churches and heritage sites.
Mr. Santiago Descallar aka Junior with Mr. Cristino Tatoy
In Maribojoc, I met Mr. Cristino Tatoy, the maker of the miniature replica of old churches in Bohol as well as Mr. Santiago Descallar or Junior, Joe Vincent Catadman and Ada Abastas. They are four of the eight instructors in Escuela Taller Bohol who supervise and train the students.
Escuela Taller Bohol is the second training center in the Philippines under the supervision and management of Escuela Taller De Filipinas Foundation, Inc. (ETFFI) a non-profit organization established in December 2013. Its goal is to ensure the sustainability of the Escuela Taller Intramuros Program, which started in 2009 as a collaborative project of the government of Spain represented by the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and the government of the Philippines represented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Other partners involved in this project include the Intramuros Administration (IA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The training’s goal is to equip the youth with knowledge and specialized skills to help them uplift their economic status while focusing on the preservation of heritage structures in Bohol.
Actual Training and Students Participation
Escuela Taller De Filipinas Foundation, Inc. chose Bohol as the second center after the destruction of some of the country’s heritage sites and old churches brought about by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last Oct 15, 2013. The center currently has 60 students aged 16-25 as first batch, enrolled in stone, brick and wood carving, construction painting and masonry with 1 year training that started last Oct, 2016.
The center provides students’ training with the necessary skills in classical carpentry and traditional construction that had been used to build the old churches and structures through the “learning by doing” concept. It involves actual student participation in building structures, wood and stone carving and painting that will be used to restore old churches.
Stone and Wood Carvings made by Escuela Taller Bohol Students
Escuela Taller’s mandate are: To empower unemployed Filipino youth and improve their access to the labor market, to raise heritage awareness among Filipinos and to promote the conservation of the tangible heritage in the Philippines following internationally accepted standards.
With Escuela Taller’s help together with the different government and private companies and citizens support, we can be sure that there’s still hope after what happened in Bohol and that there will come a time wherein we will still be able to restore and preserve our heritage, not only the structures but our heritage as Filipinos as well.
On behalf of all Filipino people, we want to give our thanks to Escuela Taller, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum, Embajada de Espana En Filipinas, TESDA and all the sponsors of this project. May your tribe multiplied a thousand fold.