Capiz shells, ocean gems from Capiz in Roxas City, goes to the buzzing districts of Angeles City and transformed into exquisitely elegant home ornaments.
Chilonia Fabrica owner Catlen Faith Esnaldo toured the OTOP Angeles team inside their 300sq.m. factory in Anunas, Angeles City.
She showed how capiz-made home decors are conscientiously lined with brass, soldered with nikolite and assembled into alluring photo frames, jewelry boxes, parols, candle holders, tissue holders, sun catchers, lightings, chandelier, plant pots and other interior embellishments.
Chilonia derived from the word Chelonia, is a word referring to a turtle or tortoise, of which her late partner Terence Cleak is fond of.
“Si Mr. Cleak talaga ang nag-umpisa nito noong 2013. Sa kanya rin nanggaling ang idea ng Chilonia,” she added.
A piece of her story took us back to the glory days of Chilona Fabrica with Cleak: the abundance of order requests from overseas, the excitement of joining trade fairs, and having the English lad beside her.
She shared that these laborious craft of Angeleño artisans are known for export quality. The shells which are most abundant in the Western part of Visayas, are transported to Pampanga with complete documents signed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Manned by 13 talented heads, they’re all hands to meet unceasing orders from the United States, Germany, Guam and Fiji. In the Philippines,they supply to hotels in Manila and Cebu; souvenir shops at Ocean Adventure, Intramuros and Tesoros Handicrafts; and to all Kultura sections of 40 SM Malls.
Not until Cleak’s death in 2018.
“Wala talagang naiwan sa amin,” she said. Esnaldo is left with the only option to ‘start all over again’.
Moved the shop from Friendship to Anunas. Reconnected with clients. She’s ready to bounce back from the loss of a loved one. Then pandemic enters the scene.
Production broke off. No sales, no salaries for her workers.
Then she received a call from Executive Assistant IV Reina Manuel and ACEDIPO OIC Irish Bonus-Llego.
Mayor Carmelo Lazatin’s project, the OTOP Angeles Store, is opening its doors to all Angeleño small business owners to be their selling platform for free.
“Hanggang ngayon iniisip ko paano ko nalampasan lahat ng iyon. Sa tulong na rin ng mga kasamahan ko dito, hindi nila ako naiwan, nakakasurvive kami kahit papaano. Malaking tulong talaga itong project ni Mayor. Kay Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr., nagpapasalamat ako dahil tinanggap nila kami sa OTOP. Kay Mam Reina Manuel na laging supportive sa aming mga galing sa ACAMASE at kay Mam Irish Llego na walang sawang nagri-reach out sa amin. Sana ay mas marami pa pong projects ang ibigay sa amin,” she shared with gratitude.
Esnaldo disclosed her biggest payout from OTOP Angeles Store was in December 2020 amounting to P12,000.
“Nag-ECQ, nalagpasan namin. Ano pa kaya ang hindi namin kayang lagpasan?,” Esnaldo said with great enthusiasm.