Want To Be Another Kind of Apprentice?

I found out about this programme from Fidel, a friend who is the PAPA Programme Coordinator. I’ve known her for a while now and she and her husband are very supportive of heritage arts and events of Penang. Her two children are active in Anak-anak Kota, a brilliant programme for Penang school children. In fact I know quite a few outgoing youth who used to work with Janet Pillai on her highly commendable Anak-anak Kota Programme (which also netted Janet the DIGI Award).
This is Fidel, the programme coordinator
Anyway, I had been meaning to write about this PAPA or Penang Apprenticeship Programme for Artisans for some time now. It’s a great initiative under Penang Heritage Trust to ensure that dying trades have some form on continuity. History and culture are after all intertwined. Especially in Penang.
penang apprenticeship program for artisans
To take part in this PAPA Programme, you have to dedicate a good deal of time (4 hours a day I believe) as you will be taught by the the masters themselves. Their target group is essentially people who will learn the crafts and use these newfound skills to help themselves earn a good living. It is certainly not for people like me who want to learn it as a hobby! That’s a no-no because it defeats the original purpose of the apprenticeship.
rattan baskets made by the apprentices
As some of these teachers are aging, it is a sad fact that when they pass on, their skills pass on with them too. Their skills are another kind of assets which matter a lot to our history and heritage. While I am wistful about this fact, it is heartening that PHT is taking the first step to ensure these amazing arts are not lost.
know your rattan 101 - different rattan for weaving baskets
For instance, Fidel tells me that a professional took a sabbatical from her stressful career to focus on learning how to weave baskets from rattan.
chinese carving programme is also available
You can also be an apprentice to a master carver for Chinese signboards. I am interested but I am not eligible for this programme for various reasons. As it is, I don’t read Chinese. It will be hard on me even if I am qualified to take this programme.
interested in making manik or nyonya beaded slippers?
Nyonya beading, a patient and intricate art, is also available. I’m hopeless at such delicate art and craft so this is definitely not my kind of apprenticeship.
If you are interested or know of friend who would be keen on this PAPA PHT Programme, get details, get the form and get cracking. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Or call Fidel at 012 456 5867 for details.
UPDATE (15 Oct 2009): PAPA is now housed in the quaint row of pre-war shophouses along Lebuh Acheh (look for No. 66) where the mosque is. It’s open on week days so you can pop in to buy their products or learn more about the dying arts and crafts of Penang. We bought a rattan lamp for RM40 recently as decor for our new apartment. They can also make bespoke rattan items if you wish. I’m ordering a cat basket for Margaret soon and a laundry basket for myself.

11 thoughts on “Want To Be Another Kind of Apprentice?”

  1. Hi, I am interested in learning the dying art of nyonya beaded shoe. Can you recommend any one who I can learn from? I am residing and working in KL.

    • Hi Glenda, I am not too sure where you can get those. Perhaps the readers here can help? If in Penang, could you try the shops along Carnavon Street?

  2. I am Bachelor of Communication (Hons) Broadcasting Year 3 Trimester 1 students from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Petaling Jaya campus. Our team now finding information for our FYP’s Documentary.
    May I know are you a participant in this apprentices programme or you attend this event only? And have any idea for us to contact your friend, who is the PAPA coordinator? and also at the same time contact you to ask about your experience in this apprentices programme.

    • Hi Sook Ling: Please call Fidel at 012 456 5867 (her number is in the post above actually). I am not a participant of the PAPA programme but I find that it is a good way to preserve cultural heritage especially age-old crafts.


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