Lapu-Lapu City is referred to as the guitar capital of the Philippines. The city, once known to many as Opon, has several stores, both large and small, specializing in customized string instruments.
Celebrities and musical artists make sure to drop by a guitar factory in the Historic Resort City whenever they’re in Cebu to see Oponganons craft these world-class products, as the renowned cottage industry continues to flourish into the 21st century.
The neighborhood of Maribago is known for having some of the oldest guitar stores in town, with one specializing in a particular string instrument.
Susing’s Guitars has been a fixture in the guitar-making industry since the 1950s, dazzling musicians with their world-class guitars, bandurrias, and, most importantly, ukuleles.
HISTORY OF THE SUSING’S GUITAR FACTORY
Susing’s started as a small cottage industry on the island of Mactan in 1949. Its creator, Juanito Valiente Sr., crafted several handmade instruments and sold them in his wife Susana’s merchandise store.
Known as Susing by friends, family, and neighbors, Susana became the inspiration for the name that the store carries to this day.
As the demand for guitars increased by 1960, so too did the success of this small guitar factory. Juanito soon trained townsmen to be skilled luthiers to help produce more instruments.
Juanito’s 11 children learned the craft at an early age, eventually becoming integral pieces for guitar production, sales, and marketing.
Five years later, Susing’s gained even more popularity as their reputation reached the American military personnel stationed at the Mactan Air Base.
The officers fell in love with the products, so they requested customized versions. Eventually, the guitar factory received orders from different parts of the US, paving the way for Susing’s to cater to international clients.
As Cebu was declared the guitar capital of the Philippines, celebrities from all around the country visited the store to take a look at the world-class products.
In 1975, one of Juanito’s sons, Lucrecio Valiente, took over the business after deciding to forgo a career in the Philippine military. He proceeded to create New Susing’s Guitar, which improved the business brand drastically.
The store became more modernized as Lucrecio’s children started to get involved. They ran the business, borrowing from their experience working for international companies.
Finally, in 2016, New Susing’s Guitar rebranded the guitar factory to focus on ukuleles, as the Hawaiian instrument swept the Philippines. These handcrafted solid-tone wood instruments became the company’s main export product.
The original guitar factory, also referred to as Valiente Guitars, has around 40 craftsmen working every weekday. Guitars typically take six weeks to finish and are most sought after during the end of the year leading up to Christmas.
Crafting these guitars requires a lot of dexterity, meticulousness, and patience. With its robust quality and intricate designs, international brands even tap Susing’s to have their guitars made for them.
It has become such a cultural phenomenon in Mactan that foreigners can tour the factory and learn how to build a guitar themselves with the help of the factory’s very own luthiers.
The factory is located behind a cafe called Ukehub, which subsequently also has ukuleles for sale. This cafe offers workshops for beginners wanting to learn the instrument.
Susing’s can deliver their guitars outside of Cebu, even putting their products up on online shopping apps like Shopee.
You can see their products on their Facebook page. You can also see several photos and videos of local artists using their ukuleles for covers and live performances.
If you are an avid fan of folk music or are looking for a musical souvenir to bring home from the guitar capital of the Philippines, then Susing’s is your best bet.
This guitar factory has been a symbol of the city’s instrument-making industry, providing Filipino musicians with quality products for over half a century.
Their ukuleles have been bought and exported to hundreds and thousands of loyal customers who applaud the sound and build quality. It’s the gold standard for a well-made four-stringed guitar made in Lapu-Lapu City.
HOW TO GET THERE
Maribago Road, Lapu-Lapu City
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Closed on Sundays
If you wish to commute to the guitar factory, you can ride a jeepney going to Maribago at the Mactan Newtown. You can get off at the 7/11 convenience store and hail a habal-habal or tricycle. Tell the driver you will be going to Susing’s.