Engraving Identities on Rubber

Is How This Stamp

Maker Creates His Life


by Shara Mae Balce, March 05, 2019 11:27am

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila


Engraving Identities on Rubber Is How This Stamp Maker Creates His Life Goals

by Shara Mae Balce, March 05, 2019 11:27am
Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

Our first encounter with stamps was probably through our preschool teachers who inked us with stars on the back of our hands for a job well done—a literal stamp of approval. But before becoming popular to both in the art and communal world, the origin of the first-ever rubber stamp dates back to 1844. Commercial stamps were mainly used for enclosing paper documents or letters, dating, and numbering until it eventually evolved into decorative purposes.

In the Philippines, the industry of customized hand-carved rubber stamps is continually gearing up along with other local handicraft businesses. Despite the looming death of print and rise of digital imprints, the rubber stamp industry still continues to flourish. Among those striving to make a mark (literally) in rubber stamp-making is Lorenzo Hernando.

Starting Small

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

Lorenzo mounted a small wooden kiosk along Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City for his startup stamp-making business. Named after his son, Renzo, the dry seal and rubber stamp business is situated near the footbridge in front Makati Central Post Office, carving different logos and names on rubbers.

For 20 years, Lorenzo used to work and make stamps under a private employer. He got a vocational course certificate in Electronics Engineering in Cabanatuan. Never did he know he would be involved in stamp making until his brother-in-law taught him how to carve letters and symbols on rubber.

“Tinuruan lang ako ng bayaw ko. Siya talaga iyong may business na ganito, saka iyong tito niya. Tapos sinama lang niya ako,” Lorenzo shared in an exclusive interview with Inside Manila.

The 44-year-old stamp maker from Nueva Ecija started a business in Manila even if the consequences include him being away from his wife and children. Two of his five children are living with him—one is his daughter in first-year college and the other one is his son, Renzo who helps him in the business. Renzo has been helping him for almost two years.

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

Lorenzo eventually became passionate about stamp-making, it became his primary source of income. From settling bills to sending his children to school. He started his own business which he has always dreamt of. He is receiving works—custom-made stamps with signature, simple text, and logos—from people around Metro Manila who usually drops by his stall in Makati and people from provinces whom he connects with online.

“Mayroong nagpapagawa mga taga iba’t ibang lugar pero Metro Manila din. Sa online, mas marami (taga-) probinsya. Shipping naman sa kanila lahat. Sila na rin magbabayad ng shipping.”

Making the Mark

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

The rubber stamp making process starts with printing a copy of the desired image on paper and transferred onto the surface of the rubber (usually the one used for making shoe sole). The paper will be laid facing down the rubber and rub its back with a small piece of cloth soaked in a solvent to deposit a mirror copy of the image. In Lorenzo’s case, he and his son use a carving and cutting tools for a precise cut-out design from the carving block.

It takes steady and careful hands to carve out designs and letters (usually smaller than an inch), but Lorenzo and his son can create stamp-perfect copies in a matter of minutes.

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

Once the stamp is finished, they mount it on a small wooden handle and the finished material is ready to use.

Stamp of Approval

Lorenzo earns at least a thousand pesos per day depending on the number of orders he gets online and from walk-ins. The Internet helped this kind of business like Lorenzo’s a lot to reach more clients from different places. Even though he is also a subcontractor in servicing dry seal stamps, the main service his business offers is rubber stamp making.

Reflecting through his eyes the joy of living his life goals, Lorenzo said with a smile on his face: “Dito kasi, nagagawa ko na lahat ng pangarap ko. Sa kinikita pa lang dito, lahat ng gugustuhin mo mabibili mo na kasi kumikita dito nang malaki.”

While claiming that he got a better life here in Manila, Lorenzo said you still need to work hard here to make through every day. However, for him, it is not hard also to make a living in the metro as long as you are capable and willing to endure everything to get your hard work paid off.

Before it was just ambition for Lorenzo to have his own business, but now he is continuing to live and grow that dream.

The stamp maker believes that anybody can also make it in business. He started humbly and is still making it through. What it takes are skills and perseverance, according to Lorenzo, to thrive for the long haul in the business industry. It would be hard at first, but getting through the frustration and failures is always worth it.

Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila

It was not easy to make a living and success in any business. Lorenzo’s key is his strong drive—he won’t stop engraving his life goals. One who strives hard reaps wonderful endings, and we can’t wait to see this small business get bigger soon.


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