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Cebu: The Home of World-class Guitars


Aris Mape
Aris Mape | Jul 11, 2016


Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan, Cebu is known for its flourishing guitar industry. There are several accounts how guitar-making started in this region and passed on to generations. Legend has it that the Spanish friars trained villagers, so they no longer have to send their guitars to Mexico when they needed repair. The music-loving townspeople took the livelihood to heart until over the years, it has grown into a thriving industry. Now, there are a number of guitar manufacturers in Cebu, making it the Guitar Capital of the Philippines. The popular ones are Alegre Guitars, Inday Celia’s Guitars, Susing’s Guitars, and Ferangeli, known for their world-class guitars, ukuleles, banjos, bandurrias, and mandolins.

On my first visit to Cebu in 2003, I bought a cute ukulele for a few hundreds of pesos. It looked neat in varnish, it had nylon strings—the same stuff used for fishing lines—and it was about one foot long. I told myself, never mind if it’s off-tune, this is a sentimental piece from Cebu.

Handmade guitars (Photo taken with Huawei Mate S)

Guitars and ukuleles are one of the many unique pasalubong you can take home from Cebu. Of course, there’s dried mangoes, danggit, chorizo, rosquillos, otap, chicharon, and lechon. But to the music lover, nothing compares to the joy of taking home a musical instrument, especially when it’s the fruit of your labor. In fact, you can make one on your own right at the guitar shops where these stringed instruments are made.

With Anne and Anil from Backstreet Academy, I took a van from SM City on that warm Saturday. The destination: Ferangeli Guitars at Barangay Pajac in Lapu-Lapu. The family business started by Fernando (Andoy) Dagoc, traces its roots to two generations who started Cebu's finest guitar industry. Now, it's one of the main players in the guitar market in Cebu and an active exporter of guitars to Hawaii, California, Spain, Australia, Mexico, and other parts of the world.

Photo Credit: Ferangeli Guitars

Andoy Dagoc, founder of Ferangeli Guitars 

We were greeted by the happy workers, all of whom were busy in their workstations. Two women were busy with their paint brushes as they color the ukuleles pink and bright orange. Inside the shop, the guys were tied up with woodwork, all the sandpapering and chiseling and sawing.

Hand-painting the ukuleles (Photo taken with Huawei Mate S)

A small guy handed us some of pieces of plywood and introduced himself as John. He’s been making guitars for about five years. For that long, he said he’s mastered the techniques in making the best guitars, and he was determined to teach me how to make my own. I got excited.

With John
John teaching me the steps (Photo Credit: Backstreet Academy)

He started by naming the tools, some of which rang a bell from my Shop subject in college. He made a demo first and then I took over. It was fun. I had to trace some dots on the plywood, the soundboard which they already shaped the day before, and then glue some small pieces of wood called bridge and brace.

Back to Shops! (Photo Credit: Backstreet Academy)

After a few minutes... Woah! I made it!


Great experience! (Photo Credit: Backstreet Academy)

Check the rest of the story and learn how to make your own ukulele in my blog, D'yan langMy blog advocates mobile photography and was the People's Choice for Travel and Places Category in the 2015 Bloggys Philippine Blogging Awards. It was also the 2015 Best Cebu Travel Blog and Best Cebu Photo Blog, recognized by the Cebu Bloggers Society.

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