Objectives & Purpose
Charming Baldemor firmly believes in revival. While the word can take on a whole spectrum of meanings, she best sees revival as a form of healing. Her various pursuits that center on the craft of carving are ingrained in this particular philosophy, as seen in her various works spanning the traditional fine art, a twist on wearable art, and even functional pieces for the home.
CONTINUING PAETE’S LEGACY
The humble town of Paete in Laguna has engraved its name as the wood-carving capital of the country. Generation after generation has quietly yet significantly provided quality work throughout history: from religious objects, particularly in the 16th to 19th century, to the carving of the awe-inspiring six- feet tall murals of Botong Francisco’s Filipino Struggles Through History that were sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964. However, a multitude of factors that include the unprecedented rising rate of deforestation, the shift to the use of cheaper materials such as (MDF) medium- density fiber wood and resin, and changes in employment preferences, which have caused the carving industry in Paete to decline. Nevertheless, Charming is proof that while there is a considerable decrease in production, Paete is far from losing the title of carving capital of the country, and the forests it has left.
Promoting care for the environment using wood as a medium may seem paradoxical, but all these years, Charming Baldemor has remained faithful to upcycling wood and not using freshly cut lumber. Wooden posts for electricity that have been discarded to make way for ones that are made of cement, wooden cartwheels, and demolished houses are just some of the unconventional but rather sustainable sources that Charming acquires materials from. In light of the continuing balding of forests due to unsustainable and illegal logging, the quality of material available has been affected. While the logging practices of the past allowed for the maturation of wood that greatly contributed to its durability, the increased demand has prompted loggers to harvest young wood of fruit-bearing trees such as Santol and Mangga. While the softness of young timber is easy to work with as compared with harder wood like Narra, these contort over time, thus warping the original design. Consequently, the carvers find less reason to create detailed works. Because of the now-ephemeral nature of their works due to the quality of the wood, they are beginning to settle for subpar pieces that require little effort and planning. Charming believes that carvers should not compromise the integrity of the craft, but rather, protect it by improving their resourcefulness in acquiring material and honing their discipline while finding sustainable long-term solutions.
Though wood-carving is a seemingly male-dominated field of the arts, with hard work and an adept artistic vision, Charming has successfully made a name for herself not only in her hometown, but also beyond. The advocacy to empower women took on a deeper meaning through her work in the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs, an organization whose main aim is empowering women for service and advocacy. The club involves itself in numerous projects which includes support for the sexually-abused women in Marillac Hills through their psychological rehabilitation in this Zonta haven. Encounters with the different narratives that had been greatly affected by the events that had befallen them — particularly incidents of sexual and domestic abuse — allowed Charming to hear first-hand how these women now view life with a degree of hopelessness and uncertainty. One with the ladies of Zonta, Charming believes that not all hope is lost for them. Thus, she resolves to continue the support for the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs and its various projects to support and empower women.
Another notable project of the club is the Empowering Women Scholarship Program (EWSP). This initiative supports young female students who are pursuing fields that are normally dominated by men, such as in Engineering. The students who are a part of the program are enrolled in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and are taking up a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses toward a degree in Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science in Architecture, and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Through the scholarships, the young ladies of the project are given a chance to stand alongside their male peers in the numerous possibilities that await them in the various fields of the exact sciences. Moved by her own experience of struggling to gain recognition in a discipline where hardly any women are recognized, Charming fully supports the EWSP.
PROMOTING FILIPINO CRAFTSMANSHIP
The canon of Philippine art is witness to the sheer talent of our fellow Filipinos: from the graceful statues of the old masters seen in Guillermo Tolentino’s Oblation, to the more angular works of Eduardo Castrillo as exhibited by his notable Bonifacio Monument at Lawton. The clear evolution in style is a testament to the artistry of the Filipinos, which manages to incorporate various elements from the different cultures that belong to it into a unique and cohesive art piece.
Charming Baldemor believes in continuing the way that Filipino artists challenge the boundaries of art through her bags. Going beyond art that is simply admired, her collections of wearable art allow for function as well as form. Marrying the art styles of the old masters and post-war artists, Charming’s creations showcase the finesse and painstaking workmanship that are evident in the work of Filipino artists, then and now.
Zonta Club of Makati and Environs was formally chartered in 1971. Belonging to Zonta International, the Makati chapter is one of the avenues through which the mother organization realizes its mission of empowering women and helping them achieve their full potential. Most of Zonta Makati’s partner communities are the depressed areas in the central business district of Makati City. Some of the projects that they’ve had include livelihood projects to encourage financial independence, literacy programs, and breast cancer awareness campaigns. One of their notable projects is providing various means of support for those who have been victims of abuse – both domestic and sexual. Being a part of this particular project had the most impact on Charming because of the narratives of the women. Each incident of abuse with every passing day has implanted a seed of hopelessness in these women who also often were breadwinners and mothers and even children.
This hopelessness would commonly grow and alter their perspectives altogether, causing them to think that they no longer have a future. “If a piece of wood can be given [a chance at] new life,” Charming states, “what more in the case of these women? They’re human. They have so much potential.” Resolving to be of help to empower her fellow women to help them realize the latent strength they possess, she has committed to donate part of her bag collection’s profits to the programs of Zonta Makati and Environs. She believes that being broken does not define one’s identity and that with the proper support channels, every woman can be her best independent self— most especially those who had gone hardships such as the beneficiaries of Zonta. Any well-made designer bag can provide a woman with an additional air of confidence, but Charming Baldemor’s bags do that and more — each bag is a unique art piece that also provides support and empowerment to women who need it the most.
FilipinaZ is an event that aims to recognize and empower the women who are trailblazers in the fields of fashion, art, and jewelry-making. Hosted annually by the Zonta Club of Makati and Environs as a fund-raising event, FilipinaZ allows women to create connections with fellow artists and entrepreneurs and showcase their creations to a wider audience. Charming first joined the fair in 2014. While her exquisite pieces were warmly received by the patrons of the event, she realized that she needed creations that would convey her and the organization’s advocacies to a bigger audience more effectively. She conceptualized and created something entirely new for the fair with the support and encouragement of her fellow Zontians: a collection of wearable art in the form of bags. Since its first introduction in 2015, Charming has exclusively launched the new collections of her wearable art series during the annual FilipinaZ fair. Drawing patrons who are awed by her intricately carved pieces, her work with the organization continues as she unveils a new collection of bags during the FilipinaZ.