A former production designer of mainstream television programs and movies has accumulated countless props that his apartment could no longer accommodate.
Lino Dalay, 50, thought of opening a shop where he could display and still earn from his designs and works. But he realized that there was much more to know in starting up the business.
“My mother has inspired me to come up with something that could help me show others how rich Paete is in terms of artistry. It is also an opportunity to showcase our other businesses,” said Dalay, who comes from a family who has been producing “bakya” (wooden shoes) since the Japanese occupation.
In 1993, Dalay put up Ang Kulay at Hugis sa Paete along J. V. Quesada Street, a heritage shop which mainly displays the family’s wooden shoes and some old props. The outlet also offers wood and styrofor carvings, papier-mâché, shirts and other items that may interest clients.
As someone who had worked in the entertainment mainstream, Dalay has developed many contacts that helped him handle the business. Directors and producers, though, still give him projects occasionally.
Often, Dalay is commissioned to design and provide props for festivals, malls, mainstream and independent films.
He stopped working as a full-time designer when he felt that it was too tiring and he wanted to do something else. Also, the projects coming his way slowed down.
When he put in P10,000 for his new endeavor, Dalay said he was unsure how the shop would turn out but decided to give it a go, knowing that his passion would help him maintain it.
He first displayed masks, papier-mâché and styrofor carvings, and other props. Now, the store is packed with more items for the needs and wants of potential clients.
Since he has no budget for advertisement, Dalay depends on referrals from clients, directors and producers.
Keeping the shop afloat is a struggle, he emphasized. “This kind of business is a microcosm of the [economic] crisis, but my passion has kept me going for the past 16 years.”
He acknowledges that he does not expect much in terms of profit. “If I am just hungry for profit, then this shop should have been closed a few years after I have started it,” he said.
But Dalay considers priceless the appreciation of people visiting the shop.
It has been a favorite haunt for high school and college students who want to learn about Paete’s culture and arts.
“It is really rewarding to know that those students who came here would come back when they need something that we offer, even if they first came without buying something,” Dalay said.
Ang Kulay at Hugis sa Paete has kept the prices of its products for the past four years despite increasing costs of raw materials.
It has also helped groups that aim to hone the talents of young artists in acting, singing, dancing and the visual arts. The Philipintura and the Teatro Buwig have emerged from the shop’s marketing and promotional push.
“My friends and I were thinking of how we can invite people to come into my shop, and we thought of having some performances here from time to time. Eventually, we came up with two groups of artists,” Dalay said.
Dalay is also proud that many of his former craftsmen now have more stable jobs, while others have left abroad for greener pastures.
“My shop served as their training ground. Most of them learned and acquired their skills here,” he said.
He has been invited by the United Nations to give a talk about the cultural heritage of Paete.
“The time I quit my mainstream job, my close friends thought I would end up remorseful. But I have proven them wrong as I have remained unfazed in running my business for more than a decade,” Dalay said.