INDUSTRY (Vigan Jar)
The burnay is an earthenware jar crafted by a potters hands
with the aid of a potters wheel. It uses fine sand (anay)
as a tempering material and fired at a high temperature in a huge
brick-and-clay ground kiln that makes it is harder and more durable
than other terra cotta. The local bagoong (fish sauce), sugarcane
vinegar and basi wine would not taste as good if not fermented in
stoneware burnay jars.
Burnay technology was brought to Vigan by Chinese artisans, who,
according to Vigan folk historian Damaso King, came from Kwi-Sao,
Chun-chiu province in Mainland China. As such, it may have existed
in the area even before the coming of the Spaniards in 1572. These
Chinese artisans who set up this cottage industry depended on the
natives for their clay supply and labor.
Fidel Go, owner of the Ruby Pottery and descendant of the first
Chinese potter who came to Vigan, has his own account of the burnay
industrys history in Vigan.
According to him, burnay technology was introduced to Vigan around
1890 by Pedro Go, a Chinese settler from Chinkang, in Fukien, Mainland
China. He set up his camarin (jar factory) along what is now known
as Rivero Street in Brgy. VIII. Around 1916, Ongkai Go, son of Pedro
Gos brother, came to the Philippines and worked with him,
then went back to China to marry when he was 18 years old.
Ongkai came back to the Philippines around 1922, now with his
cousin Igan Go, to set up their own jar factory, which is now known
as Ruby Pottery. At such time, there were five (5) burnay factories
in Vigan that of Pedro Go, of Igan Go, and of relatives Ramon
Go (owner of RG Jar Factory), Buki Go, and Domingo Go. The separate
camarin of the last four (4) were all along what is now known as
Gomez Street in Brgy. VII.
Fidel Go is the son of the late Ongkai and inherited the Ruby
Pottery from Igan Go. He was awarded the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan
(National Folk Artist Award) of the National Commission on Culture
and the Arts in 1990 for continuing the craft he inherited and for
himself knowing all the rudiments of the craft. He claims that between
the two (2) surviving Chinese-owned jar factories, he is the only
one (now with one of his sons) who still does pottery himself.
Zosima Amistad, wife of Pedro Amistad, the proprietor-potter of
NP Jar Factory, supplies supplementary information to Fidel Gos
She remembers that there used to be seven (7) jar factories (presumably
at a time when Pedro Gos camarin already went out of operation).
Aside from the four (4) already mentioned, there were those of Filipinos
Jovencio Adora along the present Katipunan Street, Nicolas Amistad,
and Evaristo Amistad whose camarin were near the southern end of
Nicolas Amistad and Evaristo Amistad were the son and nephew of
Iban Amistad respectively. Iban Amistad learned the craft while
working as cook of one of the Chinese factory owners. According
to Zosima, Iban learned to mold jars in the potters wheel
while his Chinese master went away to gamble. He then taught his
son Nicolas who later set up the NP Jar Factory. Nicolas son,
Pedro Amistad, inherited the said jar factory and like Fidel Go,
himself molds jars, sometimes with the help of one son.
Todays Barangay VII is still more popularly known as Pagburnayan,
which literally means place where burnay is made. This
section was so aptly called because all the burnay camarin (cottage
factories) were located in this southwesternmost part of the poblacion.
But about 15 years ago, there were only four (4) burnay factories
left in Vigan. Three (3) belonged to Barangay VIIs jurisdiction,
and one (1) under Barangay VIII, but all were neighbors.
However, one of the burnay factories (that within Barangay VIII)
ceased its operations in the last decade. Presently, three (3) burnay
factories remain: RG Jar Factory, Ruby Pottery, and NP Jar Factory.
These burnay factories are the only ones found throughout the country.
At present, a variety of burnay products are made, mostly for
decorative functions. These are jars of different shapes, sizes
and designs, plant pots, ashtrays and others.
These are marketed within the country and abroad. The factory
owners business contacts, other local and foreign traders
order the jars with specifications or purchase these on the spot.
About four (4) traders from Bulacan and some others from Manila
frequent the jar factories in Vigan. It is said that the Bulacan
Garden in Manila is the strongest dealer of burnay. Other Filipino
and foreign exporters also patronize the Vigan burnay jars.
Volume purchases or orders are bought at discounts and are transported
to other places by hired freight service. In one instance, Ruby
Pottery delivered three freight loads of jars to an international
shipping line to satisfy the order of a foreigner businessman who
would take these to Belgium. While exportation is not yet regular,
demand continues to expand to other foreign countries (e.g. Great
Local and foreign tourists also buy jars directly from any of
these factories. Since Pagburnayan is a must-see section in Vigan
tours, jars, especially the miniatures, are easily sold. The miniatures
have a potential for expansion as they are bought and resold with
some value added, as in converting these into painted decorative
more Traditional Arts