Capiz Shell Windows – Lampirong

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Capiz Shell Windows, Lucban, Quezon Province, Philippines

Capiz Shell Windows, Lucban, Quezon Province, Philippines

Capiz or Lampirong (alternative spelling: Lamperong) Windows. One of the most distinct and beautiful architectural details of old Philippine buildings are the windows made with shell rather than glass.  We’re not sure if this is because glass was not made in the Philippines or it was just too expensive, but whatever the reason, it has has given us a treasure in these beautiful windows.  We had imagined that Capiz was something of the distant past until the stands selling “Lampirong” oysters (Placuna placenta) sprang up along the National Highway between Oton and Tigbauan, Iloilo on Panay Island in May.  The vendor told us that these Lampirong were harvested right in the immediate area, not trucked in from Capiz Province.

One of dozens of roadside stands selling Lamperong near Oton

One of dozens of roadside stands selling Lamperong near Oton

The photo above shows Carol buying Lampirong oysters.  At first glance the Lampirong seem so thin that there could not be much meat.  This proved not to be the case.  The Lampirong were meatier than other local oysters and, according to my Filipino family, exceptionally fresh, sweet and delicious.  The cost was P35 per kilo.

Bucket of Lamperong oysters, Oton Iloilo

 

Lampirong Christmas Tree, Oton, Iloilo Philippines

The shells of lampirong are discarded and have no market value but they are sometimes used for decorations such as the Christmas tree shown above, by the roadside in Oton, Iloilo.

Getting back to historic Capiz windows, you can see why the windows are so beautiful.  They filter in a quiet light through the luminicent, mother-of-pearl shell.  The fact is that one the Lampirongs are eaten, the shells are discarded.  One firm is marketing newly-made Capiz products, including windows: http://www.lamperong.com/

Since we’re designing our new home, it’s a real temptation to incorporate these beautiful Capiz shells somehow, somewhere.

Comments (6) Write a comment

  1. i am also uncertain if glass was not made in the Philippines or it was just too expensive..but i personally think that capiz fits our climate better. it does not allow hot sun rays to enter homes and it does not create glare or temperature to rise unlike how glass does

    Reply

    • Charm,

      I agree, Capiz gives the most beautiful, filtered light. Lots of lampirong are eaten here and almost all of the shells just thrown away.

      Bob

      Reply

  2. Hello Bob and Carol
    In reading about the lamperong shells. I think a great place you have for them would be above your security doors where you have colored glass, and maybe a couple in the door itself. If they were known about before construction a framework could have been welded up to except them. Just a thought.

    Regards
    Carl

    Just got back from Philippines…had a great time and missed all the cold here in CO.

    Reply

  3. Bob and Carol,

    Thanks for your wonderfully informative site. I will be visiting the Iloilo area in late January 2010 (be there for the festival) with a lady friend who hails from same; she is gently urging me to consider retirement in or near Iloilo and your splendid work has given me invaluable insight into the city and its attractions. Hope to make it to Tigbauan, Oton, and many of the other places you have so beautifully delineated.

    Best wishes on your house project and, who knows, we might just run across each other come January!

    Cheers,

    Gene

    Reply

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