National Artist Fidel Go

National Artist, Fidel Antiporda Go

Looking into my handy street map and a list of places to go, we trodded along the streets of Vigan to see more of the place. Well upper north of Vigan we stumbled upon Pinagburnayan. And what perfect timing as National Folk Artist, Fidel Antiporda Go, was about to give a demonstration on making a Burnay Jar. Interesting seeing the process, from taking a clay, molding it first, a dash of sand before putting it on a potter’s wheel where it is manually operated by a foot. Shaping it depends on your hands and fingers. After these clay jars are shaped, they are put on fire in a kiln. Though there are many jars being oven-ized, not all are well made. If there are like 100 jars in a dragon shaped kiln only about 10 would be well made.

Burnay Jars

A sea of jars

Ilocos is the home of these burnay jars which preseded spanish times. The Chinese introduced these jars in the pre-colonial times as an all weather storage for their products during which they shipped around other countries. For Ilocanos, they use these jars to ferment fish sauce, vinigar and “Basi”, their local wine. They bury these jars underground to seal out air for perfect fermentation.

Designed clays

Unique, designer ash tray from clays

During the late 80’s, Burnay Jar making was a dying industry due to the introduction of other storage devices like tupperwares. Fidel Go, relized these and made an innovative and creative move. How will he be able to sell all these jars if they all look the same? How will he be able to compete in these modern times? He then thought of making different designs for his jars, making it more of an art form than a regular storage. He was the person known to revive the Burnay Industry, and thus was awarded, National Artist in 1990 for his craft.

Designer jars

Art of jar making