14 Jan2009


Lately, it has been the simplest things that have fascinated me the most. The clay tile roof at the block house of the church in Boljoon is something that I would definitely like to replicate, if only above a little lechonan, or a dining lanai… So I was stunned that just a few minutes drive from the church, we came across this roadside shop that was selling locally made floor and roof tiles, stoves, bricks, etc. We stopped, of course…


The terracota or clay ceramics are made from a mixture of two kinds of clay gathered from the nearby hillsides. First, this lumpy clay seen in a carrying sack…


…which is mixed with this more cement like consistency finer clay and some water and shaped, passed through a little electric powered “presser” and formed into flat floor tiles that are dried and I presume baked in a kiln or makeshift kiln of sorts before being sold to tourists or passersby like me…


I bought some 100 pieces of bricks (just PHP9 each, considering all the work that went into each hand-made brick!) to line our barbecue beside the lechonan back in the city (they work superbly), and I am now toying with the idea of attempting to build my own wood-fired brick oven out of these native bricks…


Funny how I love my six burner high btu stove, but I also want an open pit lechonan, a brick lined barbecue and a wood-burning brick oven… Hmmm, maybe these guys have constructed a brick oven before…



  1. Rose5 says:

    just curios, if clay products from boljoon are much better in terms of quality kaysa diha sa Lilo-an … i want to buy one of those stoves above but kalayoa pud atong Boljo-on oi…Naa ba kaha sila product diri sa ciudad gi display labi na ron nga Sinulog na…

    Jan 14, 2009 | 11:38 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    My dream house is made out of bricks in its entirety with a wood burning oven made out of bricks too and cathedral/vaulted ceiling. Bricks are cool in the summer and generate heat in cold season. Paint is not necessary!

    Jan 14, 2009 | 11:58 am

  4. Mikey says:

    It’s really a good thing that they tried to revive the making of these old spanish style tisa instead of using the more readily available Tegula concrete tiles. The old method of laying these, face up and face down, creates a more undulating silhouette than the modern ones with pre-made locking grooves. It also uses up more pieces hence the need for a stronger framework. According to an old urban legend these were molded on young ladies’ thighs. You didn’t see any of them working in the tile factory by any chance did you?

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:19 pm

  5. Mila says:

    Pizzas! Bread! Just imagine what experiments you can try with an oven like that.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:47 pm

  6. Lizzy says:

    Wow, I just had to de-lurk after this post.

    First off, let me just say that I’m an avid reader and enjoy your blog immensely. I’m still catching up, reading and enjoying archived posts.

    Call it the collective subconscious or something, lol, but this week I’ve been thinking of building an outdoor pizza/bread oven and in my research came across some nice Tuscan-style pre-assembled wood-fired ovens that you can order for several thousand dollars from Forno Bravo. I figured I could probably build it myself (with the help of a handyman :p) and save big bucks. I was actually thinking of using an Igloo dog house as a “form” for the bricks since it’s got the right shape.

    Looking forward to seeing how your project turns out. :)

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:59 pm

  7. PanchoA says:

    MM, learn something that I picked up a long time ago.

    What is used in coal fired brick ovens is what they call “fire brick” – and the source here is the bricks from boilers of old manufacturing plants that are being taken apart.

    The fire brick is the key ingredient in keeping the heat INSIDE the oven, rather than letting it move out. There’s a kind of insulating ingredient that keeps the heat from moving outward. I understand that the nearest source from Cebu is somewhere in China. Otherwise you have to keep looking for factories that are being taken apart, and bid for the fire bricks that are being taken from the boilers.

    I also nurtured the thought of assembling a coal fired brick oven for baking, once. There are plans readily available on the internet. But without this key ingredient, the heat is lost.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 2:05 pm

  8. Blaise says:

    I agree with Maria Clara… plus bricks add a vibrant, natural color and Classic touch.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 5:06 pm

  9. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Am looking forward to how your project will come out. So interesting.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 6:22 pm

  10. kakusina says:

    my “clay” project was much more modest but just as satisfying. Bought two large black clay pots and cooked dinuguan in one and sinaing na tulingan in the other. tasted really, really good. ubos.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 6:31 pm

  11. roland says:

    MM – I too have been coveting a wood burning oven… here are a couple of link you can DIY or hire someone… http://www.renatos.com/brick.htm and this too http://www.fornobravo.com/residential_pizza_oven/toscana-pizza-ovens.html — will be remodelling home soon – so I am definitely salivating at one…

    Jan 15, 2009 | 1:18 am

  12. betty q. says:

    In this day and age when most of us long for the taste of things cooked or baked the way it should be, some pople like my hubby in particular see the practical side of things. While we were looking for a house – just that right house for us-I was more looking on where I can have things built like the backyard…have room for this wood fired oven, my vegetable garden, etc. My hubby said…OK, we have that built someday and then what? Are we staying here in our old age 20 years from now…firing my oven, making my pizza dough for just the two of us? Should we decide to move, am I going to have that wood burning oven transferred as wqell? Will it be on wheelsÉ….my hubby has a weird sense of humour!!!!

    Jan 15, 2009 | 1:59 am

  13. Marketman says:

    Rose5, I have no idea if the products from Boljoon are noticeably better than the ones from Liloan… with respect to a stove, I don’t think it will make too much of a difference. MC, that sounds very cool indeed. Mikey, they would have to be very young ladies… I can just imagine if those tiles were molded on my thighs, they would need half as many tiles to complete a roof! Mila, pizzas, roasts, bread… yum. lizzy, I have been toying with this brick oven for a few months… but haven’t gotten up enough nerve to do it yet. I could just get the local expert in Cebu to do it, but I hear he charges almost as much as a CAR (albeit second hand) to make one… so I am thinking homemade instead. PanchoA, yes, fire bricks definitely, but if I can’t source that, the clay bricks will work with less effective heat absorption… I think I will visit a big hardware in Cebu the next time I am there. kakusina, I find almost anything cooked in clay tastes better… roland, thanks for those links, I have been returning to fornobravo for a few months now. betty q, can you imagine using an outdoor brick oven during the winter?! Cool!

    Jan 15, 2009 | 7:44 am

  14. PanchoA says:

    MM, if you have some more money to spare, I also recall my engineer friend telling me that you could use the regular clay bricks, but add some insulation ( he even suggested aluminum foil with the reflecting side inward ) to reflect the heat back inside where it will count.

    I didn’t proceed as I thought that it was just too expensive a project for a toy that I wouldn’t be using as much. Besides, fragrant wood for kindling is kinda hard to come by in these parts. Good luck anyway!

    Jan 15, 2009 | 8:14 am

  15. Dew says:


    Best not to use clay brick since in all probablity it will spall and crack due to thermal cycling. In a oven/dome type design, I would suggest you use low duty firebrick for the floor and dome. These will withstand temperatures of 900F. You can also use a medium duty firebrick which will withstand a higher temperature.

    The firebrick used in furnaces is probably high duty firebrick which is used in applications where the temperature reaches 1,500F or more. You don’t want to use this type.

    Be sure to use an appropriate motar.


    Jan 15, 2009 | 9:32 am

  16. betty q. says:

    MM…COOL indeed! But I think plunking my boots in close to 24 inches of snow would just make me turn around and bake the pizza in the oven!…..different story though if we had power outage! I will really plunk my boots in that pile of snow!!!! But then again, I have been known to be crazy barbecuing outside in minus something degrees when the barbecuing bug hits me just like 2 weeks ago!!!!

    Jan 15, 2009 | 11:34 am

  17. Maria Clara says:

    What do you call this Bettyq? Dedication, impulse or madness? I would say love of barbecue. Nothing can stop you even freezing weather. You are amazing in keeping the spirit of barbecuing in below zero winter months! The barbecue must be diabolically finger licking tender and juicy compare to the summertime barbecue. Just ensure you have socks though to keep your feet warm. Way to go Bettyq with boots or no boots!

    Jan 15, 2009 | 12:24 pm

  18. Fred B. says:

    I am planning to use “The Bread Builders” as a guide for building a large brick oven on my beach in the Philippines.
    ALready gardening organically and 1000 sq ft open air kitchen, will be fitted with countertops, refrigeration, storage,and stucco etc. We will use the resto/bar to raise money for he kids involved in Olympic boxing and other sports. I am going to use same bricks as used in sugar milling industry I am told they make them in Bacolod in Negros Occidental. I am in the south of the island in Negros Oriental.
    Any comments apprecaited.

    Apr 18, 2009 | 9:58 pm

  19. Ericeric, Philippines says:

    We bake all our bread weekly in our gas range. I’ve been enamored with the idea of a wood burning oven for a while. I’ve done a bit of work, not necessarily successfully. I’ve heard there are couple of suppliers who can do it for you here: 1) the amici/don bosco guys said they could, i don’t know now that amici has been sold. Cost is P250k 2) the malatumbaga guy said he could for about P200k. Well i didn’t want to spend anything like that.

    So, i’ve been researching earth ovens. It’s supposed to be cheap and effective. In fact, if you watch the river cottage series, they build an earth oven and cook pizza all in one day. I ordered the book by Kiko Denzer, which is supposed to be the definitive resource. Based on that, well, we built one in Tali, Batangas during the Christmas break. We didn’t get to use it for pizza though. I thought i had inhaled enough smoke trying to dry it. I also located the door on the windward side so it wouldn’t fire properly. So instead, we made pizza on a weber grill with a grill pizza stone. That definitely works. The crust is better than anything in a normal stove. But the top doesn’t brown enough. So, I am now trying to figure out how to modify the weber lid so it will force hot air on to the top of the pizza. Supposedly you should attach another stone to the lid, but maybe just putting an aluminum pan will work just as well. Anyhow, that’s my weekend project on our next beach trip. That and trying to get the earth oven again.

    Regards. I think your blog is great btw.

    Jan 20, 2010 | 12:19 pm

  20. Ericeric says:

    Just an update. Went to the beach last weekend and modified the weber lid by attaching small stainless wok with a hole in the bottom. Hot air will be forced down onto the pizza by the shape of the wok and from there rise up towards the chimney hole. This will brown the top of the pizza, to match the excellent crust achieved with the grill stone. At least that’s the theory.

    But, I got distracted and wasn’t able to test this weber hack.

    An hour before dinner, I tried building a small fire in the earth oven. What a surprise, the fire caught easily and was soon blazing. It helps that the wood is dry. Too make a long story short, we did an impromptu pizza dinner by the pugon. We managed to get a light puffed crust, crispy on the outside and soft in the center and nicely browned tops. The favorites were the plain margherita (tomato, parmiggiano, mozza and fresh basil) and margherita with anchovies. Cooking time was 4 minutes per pizza.

    Anyway I want to make it a bit hotter next time, to get cooking time to 2-3 minutes. I’m also planning to build an insulation layer (clay and grass) and a door so we can make bread in it.

    I was just so shocked it actually worked

    Jan 24, 2010 | 9:28 pm

  21. JR Philippines says:

    I’m a DIY guy and I wanted to build a “Pugon” (native oven). I’ve read that clay bricks are the best materials for it but I can’t find any place in Manila to buy one.

    Apr 14, 2010 | 3:28 am

  22. ADLEY says:

    you can convert a large clay pot bought locally into a pizza oven with successful results. I too am looking for proper refractory “fire” bricks in the Philippines. Also i have done alot of research on tandoori clay ovens but they are very expensive to buy and import.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 11:42 am

  23. eileen fernandez says:

    I \’ here in US. One day I was watching the TFC and there was a presentation of the afire brick stove. I wish the Philippines will take this matter seriously. It will be good for the environement and it is very economical. Totoong TIPID PINOY…..di ba?

    Nov 26, 2010 | 12:55 am

  24. eileen fernandez says:

    Hi everybody!!!!Happy thanksgiving…. Anyone enterested in the clay pot… go to Tabaco City, Albay in Bicol . This is the only place that manufacture this product .. All hand made. Even the huge TAPAYAN” or water earthen jug is available. These are very healthy to use than plastic containers.Cooking also on these pots is very healthy just like using a high grade stainless steel cookwares that are very expensive. Can you imagine . no chemicals are involve in these earthen wares, so it means your food will not be contamenated, so walang mga colon cancer , breast cancer, stomach cancer atbp that we have to deal with in our counrty. You remember during those days that all food and fresh produce were wrapped in “payaw leaves” (like Hearth shaped Lily leaves) and banana leaves….No cancers issues..now compare it todays way of life?? Fast foods . Foods heated in styrofoam container and stick on microwaves …grabe!!!!! i have more to say pero tired na ako sa typing…let’s talk email me…God Bless to everyone….

    Nov 26, 2010 | 1:10 am

  25. RT says:

    Liberty Ave cor EDSA, just one road further north towards Cubao from Santolan cor EDSA (on the Araneta side of Edsa). They sell fire bricks, P4 for a 1″ thick brick, more for the 2″ thick. You can just line the chamber and use regular bricks on the outside. Be aware that clay ovens need 1-2 hours of dry wood (don’t use plywood or treated lumber due to harmful glues and chemicals) fire to heat up, then the fire is tamped down and swept off to the side. It’s the heat that’s absorbed by the bricks that provides the heat. To make it worth the effort, it’s usual to bake pizza first (in as fast as 90 seconds), then bread, then grilled food, etc as the temp gets cooler. I’ve bought a bunch of the bricks and will be making my own oven, so no personal experience yet on the thermal efficiency of the bricks. I was referred to the source by a Pinoy blogger who has made his own oven out of the bricks and he wrote that it has worked well.

    Jan 2, 2011 | 11:54 am

  26. Marketman says:

    RT, thank you so much for that. Will definitely keep that in mind and attempt an oven sometime this year… Thanks! :)

    Jan 2, 2011 | 1:59 pm

  27. RT says:

    Welcome! There are also simpler methods for making earthen ovens. I’ll be experimenting with clay (I’m in Baguio), sand and rice hulls (great insulative properties) for a temporary setup before making a permanent oven. Also there are tandoori type ovens that can be made with large clay pots. BTW why am I in China?

    Jan 3, 2011 | 3:26 pm

  28. RT says:

    Jan 3, 2011 | 3:36 pm

  29. RT says:

    Caveat on the fire brick source cited. I came back to get more bricks and apparently it’s not specifically made for ovens ie it’s also used for house walls. So it’s probably the usual clay brick. They are dense though and have been used successfully by an acquaintance for a pizza oven. Pan de manila supposedly uses the same type of bricks, according to the vendor. Real fire bricks are made from clay with a higher percentage of silica and alumina.

    Jan 3, 2011 | 4:42 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    RT, you are in “China” because the server you are using is physically located in HK or China, even if you are in the Philippines. Yes, the best firebricks are used ones that come from sugar factories that have been disassembled. I have found them in Negros and in parts of southern Luzon, but at PHP60 each they are incredibly pricey. You would probably need a good thousand bricks for a large oven so its serious money…

    Jan 3, 2011 | 5:12 pm


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