Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cebu Ethnic Jewellery Market

If you ever decide to go hippy, and start selling ethnic jewellery to tourist punters in some exotic holiday location, as I did, for five long years, then Cebu's little 'bead street' is the place.

It's a cul-de-sac, along JC Briones St, near the port, beside the San Miguel warehouse, the Bodega San Miguel. The twenty or so stalls are lined up along the left hand side. On the right, the traders assemble to play tongit, or dama, or just to drink and chat. Right at the end is a little carinderia, run by the delicious Daisy, with good food, and sometimes an enjoyable karaoke session.

And it's incredibly good value. Some items are remainders of production lines, others are rejects, some are special productions, and others are, frankly, stolen property.

My two favourite stalls are right at the end. Whenever I'm in town, I go and meet Ernesto, and have a couple of beers and a chat. He also sells the very best cheap beads, and good lines in dream-catchers and mother-of-pearl lockets.

Thalia, next door, has an amazing selection of wooden beads (and others, of all kinds of materials), and she's a lovely lady. (I'm jealous of her boyfriend, pictured here).

Beads Cebu PhilippinesElsewhere, you can find specialist stalls dealing with shell necklaces, coral (red and blue), pearls, boars' tusks, sharks' teeth, strange minerals, and so on. Halfway down, visit Martha and Miguel; they teamed up together a couple of years ago, and do very well indeed; a Filipina-Hispano (Catalan, actually) dream team.

You might take a bit of time to understand the trade jargon; measurements sometimes in millimetres, other times in inches (typical of the Philippines, with its mixed-up Americo-Spanish culture imposition), and a whole host of descriptions of woods, bead types and sizes, etc.

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