By Joone Clooney
Born in barangay Malagonlong, Lipa City, Batangas, the 30-year old Handicraft artist, NOEL LLAVE, is also a 5th Dan Karatedo expert of Karatedo Brotherhood of the Philippines Society (KBPS)-JKS Phils. He traveled around the globe to compete in international tournaments and won several gold medals in his career.
As a craftsperson, Noel Llave says that the best thing about slogging with coconut shells is that he does not get in the way with anyone in the process. “Like the rain, my material comes from above,” says the artisan-martial arts expert, adding, “I use what the trees give.” The products he makes, be it a household item or accessory, crumble without leaving a mark of its existence on the planet.
The creativity to turn waste into lamps, bags, flower vases, baskets, household items, coin purses, and key chains is quite amazing. This marginal economy that we are trying to build can do so much more and it is great to see Noel developing his skills which he can use in the future.
Llave has been into coconut shell craft for ten years now and he wants to teach the craft to more people and popularize it. Little did he know that this product, made from coconut and very little else, will eventually become a major source of income for the family.
“I really believe that unusual livelihood creativities like these are necessary to ensure that we keep the coconut farming alive, while also helps our farmers with their harvest,” said Llave.
A coconut shell can be a delicate material to work with, despite it being durable. “I cannot predict how the shell I pick to work on will turn out to be. It might develop cracks mid-way as I carve; there are instances when a cup splits and breaks just as I give the finishing touches” said Llave. The many implements used in the craft, such as blades, often hurt his fingers.
“That is why a coconut shell product is a little expensive,” explains Llave. “The only way to make people understand this is by encouraging them to try and work with the material themselves.”
Llave continuously thinks of different designs and how to upgrade his products. Thus, he is proud to share that all of his designs are original!
“I hope to learn more sculpting skills in taking it to the next level.” Llave added.