In this day and age when buzzwords like “artisanal” and “handcrafted” are all the rage, the furniture makers of the Focolare Carpentry Training Center work quietly to create pieces that are not just beautiful and useful, but also meaningful beyond words.
The center started 50 years ago, when Italian focolarino Carlo Degasperi decided to give two young craftsmen a new hope through building furniture. Through this act of love, the Focolare Carpentry Training Center and St. Joseph the Carpenter Manufacturing Inc. (formerly Focolare Carpentry) were born.
A Social Project
The Focolare Carpentry Training Center (FCTC) is a social project of Work of Mary or Focolare Movement for Men, Inc. The aim of the organization is to open up wider opportunities for out-of-school-youth through their training programs in furniture carpentry. Floro Flores, manager of FCTC, expounds on this by saying, “Talented out-of-school youth have so much potentional, and we envision skills training as a means to improve lives and provide knowledge that can be used to make a living.”
Combining Cultural Values with Christian Values
The unique thing about FCTC’s training program is that it combines basic cultural values with Christian values. “Our trainees undergo both theoretical and practical training. They learn furniture carpentry through observation and actual application of carpentry skills. They work together with the teachers and learn to read and execute the working drawings,” says Flores. To also help prepare the young men for future livelihood projects, FCTC also teaches product costing. With this process, according Flores, they get to “develop young men into becoming productive members of society.”
More Than Just Wood Art
FCTC makes all kinds of furniture, religious items, and home décor out of wood. But Flores says that their products are more than just a piece of wood and work of art, “Our finished products are also the fruit of a harmonious, respectful, and inspiring collaboration between the trainees, shop workers, and teachers. Our clients range from churches and chapels to individual who want high quality, well-made furniture for their home.”
The trainees of FCTC come from all over the Philippines. Most of them are introduced to the center through an endorsement made by different civic and religious organizations, schools and other institutions. Their first-ever graduate, now retired from teaching at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Laguna, is managing his own furniture shop.