One of the many things Cebu is known for are the handmade guitars and there is one king of the hill and that is the Alegre guitar Factory.
For those not familiar with the area, Mactan Island is just off the mainland where the city of Cebu sits and is connected by a couple of bridges.
In the neighborhood of Abuno in Lapu Lapu City, Mactan you will find many guitar factories and stores. Most if not all of the owners are related somehow and go back several generations in the guitar making business.
The most well known and probably the most expensive is the Alegre Guitar factory. The factory is currently owned and operated by Fernando Alegre who is himself a professional musician.
Arriving at the factory after a bumpy motorized tricycle ride on a combination dirt and concrete road you are greeted by a paved parking area and the factory.
Once you walk in to the factory a salesman will approach but as I learned later these are no ordinary used car salesmen.
The factory, where the guitars are made is outside. Now this may just be for the tourists and a room full of little workers could be hidden away somewhere.
The salesman will explain how the guitars are all made by hand using wood from all over the world. All the guitars are made using glue to hold them together and vises and twine to hold the guitar parts in place while drying.
Once you have checked out the making you enter the showroom where the walls are lined with guitars made by this guitar making family.
There are guitars of every type and a section for left handed guitars as well.
Not just guitars but a Philippine version of the Mandolin; the Bandurria; Bass Fiddles and even Cocolele’s.
What is a Cocolele? It is the Philipine version of the Hawaiian Ukelele only using Coconuts for the body. In case you think it is a child’s toy wait to you hear the salesman demonstrate the sound.
Our salesman, a fellow named Jun, has been working at the factory for 18 years and can play any instrument in the place. He plays pretty damned good too.
Besides the imported woods used to make the guitars they also make use of the indigenous woods and shells with Philippine Mahogany being one of the favorites.
Jun tells me the factory used to export to Canada and other countries but quit awhile back because the factory could not keep up with demand. He says they get a lot of orders and people from all over come to buy the guitars made here. When I was there a Japanese female was on her second trip to buy 3 guitars having purchased 5 on an earlier visit.
The guitars range in price from around 2000 pesos (46 USD) to over 35,000 pesos (814 USD).