By Regine Viel Manderico* 

“Nang, maayong aga, pwede kami ka pamangkot dyutik lang?” (Ma’am, good morning, can we ask a few questions?). It was 7 am in the morning. Residents of Brgy. Hibao-an, Mandurriao were starting to go about their typical Sunday activities when I interfered in order to know about this unusual stove for my Hum class.
Hibao-an is a pottery haven located at the outskirts of Iloilo City, at the boundary of Pavia and Mandurriao. Different potters display functional and decorative pots, jars and more Ionggos to buy.

My focus is on a special kind of clay stove. This stove I am talking about is really different from the rest, I mean, from the other traditional ones.
The potter behind this interesting work is Mr. Rainier Roa or as I call him Nong Rainier. He is a typical potter whose source of livelihood is his craft but his stove is nonetheless a not-so-typical one.

His special stove and other works are periodically on exhibit-sale at Robinson’s Mall and SM City. This stove or locally the kalan, Mr. Roa uniquely calls the “Mabaga Stove”. It is not made to aesthetically stand out from other locally made stoves but to economically stand out. But its contrasting (and quite unusual) parts make it aesthetically pleasing too. So let me point out these parts to you by comparing it to the traditional one.
Basically, they look the same. The traditional stove that costs Php 50.00 is entirely made of clay and has a steel grate. The pot holder of the traditional kalan is usually far from the body. (It’s not the pot holder one uses when the pot is too hot for the skin, it’s the part of the stove where you place the frying pan or the casserole). Since this pot holder is set some distance from the inner edges of the traditional kalan, the flames from the firewood or charcoal sometimes comes out at the sides of your pot, naga-awas. Thus, one ends up with a pan or a pot with soot-blackened sides.

So what’s so different about the MABAGA stove? First, the pot holder or the top most part of the “kalan” is unusually tight. This is for the heat and the fire to be enclosed and concentrated on the food being cooked. Next is the internal body which as you can see in the picture is covered in concrete. But mind you, if you chip off the concrete the next layer is ash in order to further insulate the heat. My favorite part is the grate which as I visualize is like a beehive (because there are a lot of holes) made of clay or dagâ.  The grate is where one places the fuel which in this case would either be wood or charcoal.

The Mabaga grate is made up of small holes so that only the debris of your fuel would fall down the holes. With a steel grate, however, large chunks of unburnt charcoal can fall down the opening, thereby losing the chance to provide the heat.

So what’s the point of all these unusual characteristics of Nong Rainier’s stove? This stove is able to cut off almost 50% of the usual fuel used in the traditional stove because there is less heat lost to the surroundings while cooking. Nong Rainier actually learned this craft when he attended a month-long seminar in Cambodia last December 2004 that tackled about energy efficient stoves.
There are actually 2 versions of this stove: one costs Php 80.00 – a stove for charcoal fire. The other model costs Php 450 — it’s for both charcoal and wood (only 2 pieces of 2×2 wood are needed to produce cooking heat.)  Model 2 is extra energy efficient than the other because the entire body is insulated by ash and a pail-like structure with a handle.

You can avail of these Mabaga stoves at these prices if you get them direct at his humble shop–the Iloilo Pottery Crafts stand at Brgy. Hibao-an, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
Mr. Rainier Roa is not only an entrepreneur, but is an artist that has not only made a visually pleasing work of art but a major scientific and most of all economic breakthrough for Filipinos, specifically Ilonggos.
Nong Rainier, you have made Ilonggos proud… I salute you.