Text and photos by: Dax Simbol
Some twenty years ago the village of Nambalan, Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac, north of Manila, where Nanay Erlinda was born and raised, was bustling with traders from all over Luzon. People from as far as Batangas in the south and Pangasinan in the north would flock to the small village to buy the handmade earthenware. “Hindi na rin namin alam kung saan pa umaabot ‘yung mga binibili sa amin, kasi naikukuwento ng mga bumibili na pagdating sa Batangas sinasakay pa ng barko ‘yung iba,” says Nanay Erlinda, her hands glistening against bits of soil.
In the afternoons, she gracefully spins a mound of clay, which slowly takes shape of a pot. Each batch is sundried and polished with smooth stones. She is joined by her daughter-in-law, baking the polished clay pots with hay and rice hull. The workers are enveloped in a thick white smoke. The pots and covers turn from a grainy gray into shiny black as they are taken out of the embers.