Running on 'Butay'

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


WHEN I first heard about the Una Cebu Car, the first image that popped into my mind was a jeep made out of twigs and somehow held together by thin abaca ropes. Never had I imagined it would look remotely close to this.

It has a smooth exterior made from the coconut flower’s stalk (butay) and rattan strips (uway), a dashboard made from a blend of two-toned shells, and a steering wheel and shift knob made from Shagreen (pagi). Clearly, my mind is not imaginative as that of its creator Clayton Tugonon.

“I design my own stuff,” he told me. Clayton is a furniture designer and manufacturer by profession. “What I did is use two things I love—cars and furniture,” he said, “I wanted to show to people that with our furniture we can do other things. So I thought why not cars?”

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It was only in January of this year that he started doing the inlay, and the entire product was finished roughly three weeks ago.

This is not Clayton’s first attempt of making things from recycled materials though.

“If you go to my factory, my sink is also made of this,” he shared, referring to the car’s exterior. He has also done chairs out of sling shots, décor out of used bottles, table lamps out of termite houses, mosaic out of waste stone, and many more.

“Many people have called me crazy,” he divulged, though he didn’t sound bothered at the slightest. In fact, he seemed happy that his “craziness” helped him conjure these brilliant ideas. “I want people to think out of the box,” he reasoned out. “Kaya man nato bisan unsa (We can do anything)” he reiterated, “just think out of the box.”

“Why look far?” he asked. “There are so many things we can use here in the Philippines. Some people order timber from Myanmar, or veneer from Italy,” he cited.

To him, it’s all about creativity and making the most of the resources that our country has. “We have so many nice things around.”

Clayton shared that through the Una Cebu Car he wants people to see the importance of nature and recycling. We can design far more than cars with the raw materials that we have and so we should take care of it. “We need to bring back what we have abandoned,” he firmly said.

At present, the Una Cebu Car is in Manila representing Cebu at the Fame exhibit. “I want it to be known as a Cebu Car,” Clayton said. “It’s a showcase of what Cebu can do.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2011.

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