Welcome to Paete, Laguna, Philippines
Paete is known to be the “Carving Capital of the Philippines.” The tradition of pag-ukit dates back since time immemorial. Even the national hero, Jose Rizal, mentioned its works in one of his novels. The exquisite talent of the Paeteños have reached overseas with some of their works reportedly displayed and used in some countries such as the Vatican and United States.
Paete is a 4th class municipality in the province of Laguna, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 24,696 people in 5,101 households.
The town, pronounced Pī-té, long i, short guttural ê, is located at the northeastern part of Laguna, along the shores of picturesque Laguna de Bay. It was founded in 1580 by Spanish friars Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa of the Franciscan Order. It is believed that the earliest inhabitants were of Malay lineage, coming all the way from Borneo in their swift and sturdy boats called "Balangay". The town is made famous by craftsmen highly skilled in woodcarving and its embellishment.
The official town hero is not a statesman nor a soldier but a woodcarver, the master artisan Mariano Madriñan, whose obra maestra, the life-like Mater Dolorosa, was honored by the King of Spain with a prestigious award in Amsterdam in 1882. The town was proclaimed "the Carving Capital of the Philippines" on March 15, 2005 by Philippine President Arroyo. It is also believed that the modern yo-yo, which originated in the Philippines, was invented in Paete.
Many descendants of these skillful artisans have found a niche in the culinary world. Ice sculptures and fruit and vegetable carvings done by dexterous hands of Paeteños abound on buffet tables of cruise ships and world-class hotels and restaurants. Today the town thrives mainly on the sale and export of woodcarvings and taka, tourism, poultry industry, farming and fishing.
How Paete got its name
Before the Spaniards came, Paete was said to be a peaceful barangay under Gat Lacampauid. The Spanish friars had a tradition of naming towns they built in honor of saints. Paete was an exception. Legend has it that there was once a young Franciscan priest who was tasked by his superior to visit their newly-founded settlements alongside Laguna de Bay. The priest knew little about the terrain so he asked a native the name of the place. The latter misinterpreted the young friar, thinking that the former wanted to know the name of the tool he was using. He answered, Paét (chisel) --thus, the name Paete.