WATCH: The Story Behind the Century-Old Machuca Tile

Meet the people behind the oldest handmade tile company in the Philippines.

how machuca tiles are made
PHOTO BY JB Del Rosario, Machuca Tile Website

(SPOT.ph) If you’ve ever been to popular Metro Manila restaurants like Mary Grace, Wildflour, or Nikkei, you’ve no doubt encountered Machuca Tile—you probably just haven't realized it yet. You can also find them in churches, private residences, and even historical sites like former President Jose P. Laurel's ancestral home in Paco, Manila. Now, there's a common misconception that all patterned tiles can be considered Machuca-made tiles, but the authentic kind are actually created by just the one manufacturer and they're the oldest handmade tile company in the Philippines.

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Machuca tiles have been in the country for over a century with roots that go as far back as 1903 when, according to the company's Vice President Jaime Machuca, his great grandfather Jose Machuca Y Romeo first brought the Spanish- and Mediterannean-inspired tile designs—as well as the technology of making handmade tiles—to the Philippines. The family name Machuca actually comes from the Spanish word "machar," which means to grind or hammer.

How Machuca Tiles Are Made

Machuca tiles are made through a careful and laborious process that can take days to finish. The procedure has remained largely the same (with just a few manufacturing improvements) since the 1900s. Using pattern tile molds along with a mixture of color pigment, cement, and dry sand, the tiles are handmade one piece at a time by expert craftsmen. As Machuca points out, each order supports local artistans and helps preserve both the art form and the rich history behind the tiles.

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But while just describing the process already makes it sound like a complex and artful undertaking, nothing can compare to seeing it done up close. To give you a a better idea of how each tile is made and help you learn more about the history of the art form, we visited the company's factory, got an up-close-and-personal look at the process, and spoke to Machuca himself. You can check all that out in the video below:

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