Featured, Living

Halo Cruisers’ Angelo Alburo Carves His Way In Pursuit of True Craftsmanship

In the modern world, craftsmanship in its truest form struggles to find its way on the map. Locally, you hear the biggest Cebuano names like Kenneth Cobonpue and other up-and-coming Filipino designers who have raised the country’s flag to global heights. They continue to put the spotlight on our heritage by working with local craftsmen and artisans. But there’s nothing that can take you down to its roots, almost literally, on a journey from concept to finish the way local craftsman Angelo Alburo of Halo Cruisers can.

Carving memories at home

Growing up with a father who was a hobbyist and, therefore, designated all-around carpenter at home, Angelo’s core memories were filled with his Papa building cabinets, cupboards, beds, and tables. “I was always very interested whenever he built all these things. I would hang around and watch silently as he was building, and that triggered an interest,” he shares. 

Being raised in a community also helped ignite this creative spark. A Talisay City native, he recounts the many times he would hang around Tatay, a known carpenter in their area. “Every time there was any carpentry work in our neighborhood, I would always be around Tatay watching, observing, and “mag samok-samok” as he was doing his job. Because of those observations, I was able to absorb a few techniques and was unknowingly able to create my own version of nunchucks, swords, and trucks that we used to play with my friends,” he fondly recalls. Little did he know that this creative spark would turn into today’s innovative fires—what are now Halo Cruisers, Halo & Co., and Carv by Halo & Co.

The birth of a passion

“In 2012, I started making a board for my then-girlfriend (my wife now). I wanted to impress her, so I challenged myself to do it instead of buying her one. She was very impressed, so she encouraged me to post it online. Shockingly, a lot of people were interested, so it encouraged me to improve in this craft,” shared Angelo. 

In his unceasing pursuit of making and creating boards, and sustainably doing so using reclaimed wood at that, Halo Cruisers was officially born three years later. Today, his handmade wooden skateboards are seen cruising the roads of Manila, France, Singapore, USA, and Malaysia among other areas where his clients hail from.

But that’s not where this story ends. If you’ve ever heard of the saying ‘constraints make you creative’, then it’s worth saying that Angelo is that personified. “I wanted to create something different from Halo Cruisers, but at the same time something that would still resonate with the brand,” he shares. So in 2017, Halo & Co. came into being.

As if using reclaimed wood in handcrafting each of Halo’s boards wasn’t enough, he takes it a step further with Halo & Co. by using leftover scraps of wood to make mini wooden surfboard bottle openers, lamp shades, planters, and other objects of whimsy. These are on display in surf shops in La Union and California. And if you think that managing two brands should probably be enough for a one-man team, not for this guy. 

Photo courtesy of Halo Cruisers

As the world came to a brief halt because of COVID-19, Angelo’s passion for woodwork only revved up and evolved. At the time he married his then-girlfriend, who basically fanned the flames for all of this, Carv followed instinctively in 2022.

“Carv may be the simplest (brand), but at the same time, it’s the most intricate among all three,” he shares. Armed with just his trusty knife and a set of carving tools, Carv was the handy project he could work on sans the need for a workshop—his perfect way to pass time at the height of a global pandemic.  

Out of this new brand little pieces were painstakingly made by hand. Every detail of the tiny wooden creatures that may be good enough for a toy set, or a sea turtle, or even a representation of the Filipino folktale: The Monkey and the Turtle, reflects the common impression that “Filipinos are some of the most hard-working people in the world”. And Filipino values and culture run deep in Angelo’s modern take on woodwork where he puts hard work and dedication as a mark of true Filipino craftsmanship.

Each piece made by a pair of hands

With Halo Cruisers, Halo & Co., and Carv by Halo & Co. under his belt, it sounds like a lot of work and it is. “A literal one-man show, I do everything from research to sourcing materials, sketching, prototyping, testing, [and] refining, doing photoshoots, as well as managing all the accounts,” shares Angelo. He walks us through a seemingly straightforward creative process.

“I would always start off with research as well as sourcing materials, and then sketching, and proceed with prototyping to adjustments and testing, and then refining the pieces, and then comes the end result.” Yet it’s like describing the tip of the iceberg when one understands the preciseness and intricacies each piece of work requires and of such, he managed to put in with a pair of hands and a few tools. Indeed, blood and sweat have been shed at some point, and who knows a few tears in between.

Today, he keeps the tricky balance between work and play with trips up North or South to relax when the schedule permits. “My day-to-day looks like this: after working, I make sure to find time to skate, or if given the chance to surf, and then spend the rest of the day with my wife.”

Yet he continues to practice the same from his childhood up to now, never missing a beat when it comes to improving and evolving his craft. “I still do those things: going to a local panday. I always hang around and do small talk with these craftsmen. Always asking them for techniques and, of course, learning from them. But even just by watching silently, I am absorbing everything I see as this is still an ongoing learning process for me.”

True to his style, Angelo is relentless in taking things slow and steadily rising.


Photography Justin Muring | Location Nest Workspaces

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *