At the sidewalk along Araneta Street in Downtown Bacolod, you’ll probably find the most number of engravers in the city in one place. With their wooden tables and chairs, they patiently wait for customers to buy their ready made stamps or have one made. I’ve passed this alley many times since I was a kid and nothing much seemed to have changed over the years. I wonder how long have they held on to the very spot they have now. Together with those selling almost anything and everything, from newspapers to plastic wares… watch repairmen… those who buy coins and whatever metal that appears to be of some value… as well as colorful food stalls… they all have seemed to have claimed a piece of this pavement. There were many attempts, under different mayors, to rid the sidewalks of vendors. Yet, these politicians have come and gone… but the vendors and those made a living in the sidewalks of the city have remained and have increased in number.
Every year, I have stamps made for my notary… and I purposely head to the sidewalk fronting Lopue’s Araneta. I asked the first stall I found and charge me Php 150.00. I immediately agreed, since my suki engraver have been charging me at least Php 200.00 or more for the same number of lines in a single stamp… and this one I could get after one hour. My mom was giving me a disappointing look, waiting for me to haggle for a lower price but I saw how difficult it was to carve out each very small letter and numbers on a rubber plate. He must have carved out hundreds of stamps through the years that despite age and deteriorating eyesight, he skillfully engraved the letter set.
After about an hour, I head home with my newly made stamp… and ready to go back work.