Though pre-colonial Visayans had a variety of string instruments – including the buktot (“hunchback”) which used a coconut shell or gourd as resonator – the guitar is a Spanish introduction. Called gitara or kitara (from the Spanish guitarra), the guitar must have been manufactured in Cebu during the Spanish period. Yet, it developed as a local industry only in the present century, receiving a boost from the government’s promotion of cottage industries in the immediate postwar period. In Mactan, the craft of guitar-making is passed from generation to generation and the industry involves many families, the most prominent of whom is the Malingin family and the three sisters, Lilang, Susing, and Celia, whose names have become well-known “brand names” of Mactan guitars.
Nowadays, there is even a few Foreigners who produce their brand of guitars in Mactan using imported woods and their own beautiful designs. The choice of Mactan's craftsman is testament to the high opinion that these companies have in the expertise here.
Local guitars are typically made of various kinds of soft and hard woods, from nangka (jackfruit) to the more prized naga (narra) and kamagong (ebony). These may come attractively decorated or inlaid with shell.
In Cebuano, the parts of a guitar are called pala (arched top), liso (machine heads), sihas (nut), apuro or brazo (fingerboard), tratse (frets), kuldas (strings), abaga (shoulder), baba (sound hole), and bangil or puente (bridge).
Cebu-made guitars are not only souvenir items for tourists. They are favored by discriminating buyers in Japan, the United States, and Europe.
Parts Reprinted from the book: Cebu: More Than an Island
The Local World of Crafts
By: Raymund L. Fernandez