Sunday, February 7, 2016

357. Igorot Art: MAN ON A CARABAO

There was a time that it was fashionable for every home to have a woodcarved souvenir from the northern highlands. Baguio in the 1930s had many homegrown shops that sold carved figures of wood, created by skilled, yet self-taught Igorot natives.
The best-sellers were the ubiquitous giant spoon and fork that hanged on dining room walls. Then, there were also the ethnic tribal busts, always carved in pair--an Igorot and an Igorota--hewn from medium and heavy wood. The spear-wielding full body carving of an Igorot headhunter holding the head of his dismembered victim, was also a favorite piece.This 1950s figure, showing a man astride a carabao,  is less commonly seen. It almost looks like a lowland Filipiniana piece, until one sees the rider dressed in loin-cloth, clearly a mountain man from Igorotlandia.
It is a meticulously crafted piece--from the facial detailing of the man with his saucer-bowl haircut, to the carabao's furry hide, accomplished  by scratching the body with thousands of shallow knife marks. Mid-century decorative pieces such as this have started appearing in antique stores, as more traditional ethnic carvings such become scarcer. They are still plentiful and cheap--but look for the ones made of heavy wood and with characteristic minute detailing. Commercial figural vintage Igorot carvings are the new "bulols"!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

356. Let's Do the Horsey-Horsey! MOBO HORSE

Giddyap!! Here is a pressed-metal horse I got online--it's called a Mobo Horse, which sought to replace the more popular wooden rocking horses. These ride-on horses were inexpensively produced by a factory in Kent, England, from the 1940s through the '60s. The bestseller was a Mobo Bronco made by D. Sebel & Co., which began as a metalworking firm in the 1920s,
As the child astride the horse pushed down and then released the flat metal "stirrup" pedals, the horse bounced up and down, and wheels hidden under the hooves propelled it forward. In the 1950s, a steering mechanism was added, and by pushing down on just one pedal, the horse could be turned in that direction. This Mobo is the steerable version, and measures 30 inches tall.This example has been repainted but has all its parts almost intact (missing harness).

So, put on your riding boots...and join me on the first part of the journesy--in my horse with a name--MOBO!

Monday, January 25, 2016


Now here's an interesting tin calendar I got in Bangkok, while I was working there. It is actually a relatively recent calendar from the 1995, but with a vintage feel--courtesy of the period picture of the lady who, I believe was Miss Thailand of 1954--Khun Sucheela Sinsomboon, (thanks, my dear Thai friend, K. Oraya Imchuen for the ID!). 
A quick online search yielded an actual photo of the beautifu; Sucheela. Does she know she is being used to endorse a modern shop? Or maybe she is the shopowner's relative. We will never know.
Likewise, the shop from where this calendar came from has been also identified--Seng Sieang Li--a gold jewellery store. Twenty one years after I got this, I wonder if the shop is still around. Or if MissSucheela is still around after all these years. That's for another friend in Bangkok to find outfor me!

Monday, January 18, 2016

354. MISS UNIVERSE BEAUTIES IN MANILA: A Souvenir Program--with Autographs!

Eat your heart out, beauty pageant aficionados!
Look what I got? A 1964 souvenir program of the Miss Universe Beauties on Parade show at the Araneta Coliseum! With many photos of teh world beauties...autographed! Yes, 1963 was the year that Miss Philippines reached the finals of Miss Universe--with Lalaine Bennett finishing 4th after Argentinian winner, Norma Nolan. Part of their world tour included a stop in the Philippines, where Miss Universe and her retinue were presented in a lavish spectacle of beauty,music and dance.
The lovely Norma Nolan is the first and only Argentinian beauty to be crowned Miss Universe, and she is featured prominently in the first pages of the magazine. A photo page has her written dedication to a fan, with her autographed name.
Miss Philippines Lalaine Bennett , 3rd Runner Up, also has a page dedicated to her, along with Miss Korea, who placed 5th in the 1963 Miss Universe Pageant. Both have dedications inscribed with their signatures.
Other world beauties include Miss Germany and Miss Denmark--who was also a runner-up in Nolan's court. American state beauties also came over to participate in a rare gathering of feminine pulchritude from the world over. Collecting pageant memorablia has become a big thing in pageant-crazy Philippines, more so with the latest victory of Pia Wurztbach as 2016 Miss Universe,so maybe it's wise to stash those newspapers and magazines proclaiming the news of her victory, as they will be collectibles of the future. As our country's 2nd Miss Universe said--"Being Miss Universe is transitory, but being a Filipina is permanent!".  So hold on to those ephemera, before they fade away!

Friday, January 1, 2016


Now here's a poster to drum up the accomplishments of Pres. Elpidio Quirino--the country's father from 1948-1953, beating Roxas in the elections. His battlecry was 'HAPPY PHILIPPINES" and features major accomplishments as the construction of Ambuklao Dam and the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Power Plant.I got this poster years ago from the old Plaridel Printing Press in Malolos, Bulacan which is hitoric in itslef as it published many patriotic and nationalistic materials. Quirino's legacy is being hailed as the new Philippine ideology at this crucial time when the country is fighting the elimination of corrupt politicians and the practice of political patronage.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

352. Antique Prints: FEMME et HOMME DES ILES MANILLA

Once upon a time, I entertained the idea of collecting antique prints--and the very first ones I got were this pair of Philippine costume prints of a man and woman from Manila. The hand-colored plates were torn from an antique French travel book about the Philippines. It dates from, perhaps, late 1790s to the early 1800s. The "india' in swathed in a dark cape, and she is draped in a sarong,
The male "indio"  version is just as interesting--he wears a loose pair of shorts that fall down to his knees and his head is covered with some scarf to protect him from the harsh sun. He holds a rather large, embroidered handkerchief. How's that, for macho effect?

I am posting the rest of the pages of the book that came with the prints--in the French language,  I chanced upon these nice Filipiniana pieces being sold by a local dealer on ebay some 2 decades ago--and who has since passed away. I just wished I got more information about these prints--which remain in storage to this day. C'est la vie!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


 Those "Japan Surplus" stores burgeoning around many towns and cities are becoming popular haunts for collectibles. This vintage wedding topper,for example, was found in a nearby shop, just a few steps away from my place!  In fact, I just walked right in, did some quick rummaging and came up with this nice topper, not too old, but with lots of vintage appeal.
This must probably be a surplus piece--it came in a box without a cover. The topper is unusued; the husband and wife plastic figurine stands on a latticework base decorated with feathers and fabric flowers. A hundred bucks and it was mine! Now, all I need is a fancy wedding cake!!!