Estremera: Rough arts

THE vision of my other buddy, Jon Traya, the guy behind the infinity shelves of Ateneo de Davao University and other crazy school interior furnishings is to focus on what he calls the rough arts.

This is in protest to today's reality where creativity has been hostaged by those who have turfs to protect, it can hardly benefit the talented.

Thus, we recalled our separate but insightful visits to Bali. There, high school students spend time after school to carve those intricate stone and wood carvings Bali is known for. But nowhere can you see groups claiming to be artists hanging out and exuding the airs of local artists.

For them, it was a craft that just about every Balinese learns while growing up. It's no big deal. It’s craftmanship perfected through time by artisans and apprentices of masters. Art is so ingrained in their lives, they do not need labels to distinguish them. They are Balinese. That is label enough.

Now, back to rough arts. This is skills based, where what is trained are the carpentry and culinary and housekeeping skills to people a booming economy.

The recent real estate bust brought about by the earthquakes gives us time to assess our skills base, especially in rough arts.

Because there were no skilled hands for construction and interiors amid the boom, builders brought in workers, jacking up wages, including those of the unskilled. Now that construction industry was shaken to its very foundation, what we have left are highly-paid unskilled hands.

Where do we go from here?

This is not a new dilemma. There are already tried and tested solutions to this, the most practical being: train your own.

That is where we intend to step in, to raise the skills level and get rid of the audacious unskilled who do not have any qualms about getting paid rates beyond their skills sets. This is about capability-building and character-building, where a person's integrity is raised along with his skills sets.

How are we going about this? It's still a work in progress, yes, but the vision is very clear: Build up the skilled base with a lot of patience, tolerance, hard work, a touch of philanthropy, and character-building.

It is time for us to say, when we need skills, we get the skilled. Along the way, everyone grows in skills, knowledge, technology, and pay. No more of this trap we have fallen into where we had to make do with the unskilled and pay them industry rates because we are already scraping the bottom. By raising the skills level, we raise the standards not just of the workforce but also the standards of living. And then there will be time to perfect the finer arts. (saestremera@gmail.com)


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