Reviving the Taka: Tesoros showcases Pinoy papier-mâché art

Remember those colorful papier-mâché pieces of horses, angels, and dolls that we would see during town fiestas and local celebrations?


These fanciful figures originated in Paete, Laguna and are called Taka – a Filipino art form that makes papier-mâché figures forms using hand-carved wooden molds.

During the 1970s and 1980s Taka entered the international market. There was a demand in Europe and North America for such angels and cherubs and even newer images of pop culture icons and even politicians.

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Since that time, with changes in trends and designs, this once popular local decoration has fallen into disuse, with a once-booming industry reduced to few workshops run by ageing craftsmen.

Mary Velmonte
Mary Velmonte

Enter Mary Velmonte, a rising talent in the Philippine advertising industry with a great passion for locally grown creations. In her own words, “My interest in Taka began with a trip to Paete. It was so sad to see that the art was dying. I felt like I just had to do something to help save the craft.” Together with friends and fellow creatives Missy Galang and Claude Rodrigo Canete, Mary founded Takatak Project, a Manila-based initiative established to breathe new life into the traditional way of making Taka.

Ronli, Ms. Mary and Me
Ronli, Ms. Mary and Me

Takatak Project’s line-up gives an interesting and modern take on a beloved art form. The group’s horses, owls, giraffe, antlers, bikes, and bird cages are molded and brightly painted with angles and geometric inputs inspired by Filipino indigenous culture. Mary and her team ensure that amazing attention to detail is given to each Taka. “There is a story in every Taka, and we show it through the most creative patterns and designs,” Mary shares.

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Velmonte’s Taka pieces will be showcased as part of the TESOROS event series “Disenyo at Talento,” which aims to promote local talents who define Filipino-ness through new and revitalized forms of art. The first artisan featured by TESOROS through “Disenyo at Talento” was another Laguna based creator: corporate publishing executive An Mercado-Alcantara, who has become renowned for her Casa San Pablo Clay Storytellers.

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“It is exciting to see so many new ideas in the Philippine craft and art scene,” says TESOROS Group CE, Maria Isabel “Beng” Tesoro. “We at TESOROS are eager to empower local artisans like Mary Velmonte and An Mercado-Alcantara, whose ideas bring fresh interpretations of our Filipino traditional arts, and in doing so provide livelihood to many.”

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Mary and An are set to give a talk-around to guests invited from a variety of arts and cultural groups on their inspirations, and ideas, on how to innovate on traditional Filipino iconography. Takatak Project’s stable of Taka animal figures and Casa San Pablo Clay Storytellers will be available at all TESOROS branches starting August 2015.

TESOROS, the provider of quality Philippine cultural treasures and handicrafts, aims to feature more creative talent through the ”Disenyo At Talento” Artisanal Talks. To learn more about and become involved with this initiative, or to gain more information about other inventive handicrafts and artwork specially curated by TESOROS, email or, visit, or like the official Facebook page of TESOROS:

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