Wednesday, September 30, 2009

57. TV Dog Hero: LASSIE

Wel, well, well, do you know that Lassie--the canine hero of the hit TV series that ran from 1954-1973--was actually a boy dog? Joining the pooch as human companions was eleven-year-old Jeff Miller (Tommy Rettig), his mother, and his grandfather until seven-year-old Timmy Martin (played by Jon Provost) and his adoptive parents took over in later seasons.

"Lassie"was such a hit that many merchandise were produced during the show's run, including inclbooks, costumes, clothing, ring, wallet, gameboards, luncboxes and toys--such as this fluffy stuffed Lassie. The silver collar identifies the heroic dog, who was actually played by a collie originally named Pal and several of his male descendants. Still in good condition, this Lassie toy serves to remind me of those early days of TV when shows were still watchable and wholesome. Now it seems, a lot of TV shows are going to the dogs.


First time to see a Magnolia milk amber bottle! This is a quart bottle with the familair oval logo. The back side has the same oval with the words "Mutlivitamis Added" inscribed. A listing of the nutritional content is added. Perhaps this was some form of a therapeutic milk product. This Magnolia bottle mystery still stumps me.


Meet Jamie Sommers (played by Lindsay Wagner), the Bionic Woman--but do be careful--this former tennis player re-engineered by Oscar Goldman has superhuman legs, amplified hearing and a bionic arm that packs a mean wallop. Jamie first appeared in a 2-part episode on "The Six Million Dollar Man", earning such high ratings that a separate series was spun-off by ABC and later NBC, running from 1976-78. This mint-in-the-box action figure of Jamie Sommers made by Kenner was a purchase from Hake's Americana and Collectibles, a mail auction that was hugely popular before the advent of ebay. A quick ebay check showed a similar piece with a $99 starting bid, but I got this for just 20$. In 2007, an attempt was made to revive the TV series but failed to flex its bionic muscles.

Monday, September 28, 2009

54. 6 MILLION DOLLAR MAN Action Figure

The hit TV series Six Million Dollar Man ran from 1974-78 and was based on the novel Cyborg. Headlining this series about a man working for the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) was Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors), whose various body parts (legs, left eye, right arm) were replaced by "bionic" implants. This enhanced his strength, speed and vision far above human norms: he can run at over 100 km/hour, and his eye has a 20:1 zoom lens with infrared powers. Steve Austin became such an icon that an action figure had to be made, replicating his bionic capabilities. This plastic figure shows Steve with his bionic eye (which is simply a magnifying lens) and a springing bionic arm. Also on Steve is an original membership button for "The 6 Million Dollar Man Club". In 1975, Steve was given a love interest with the launch of "Bionic Woman".

Nowadays, at the rate plastic surgery is being done in the Philippines, more and more men and women are becoming bionic, rendering the feats of Steve ordinary and commonplace.


"Nothing To Wear" proclaims this 1950s ceramic bank in the shape of a model mannekin. So if you fill up this coin bank to overflowing, would you have enough funds to wear a Dior? I doubt it. I don't think you'll have enough even for a Divisoria duster!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

52. PLAZA LUNCH Advertising Pocket Mirror

Celluloid pocket mirrors were favorite advertising giveaways of establishments like Plaza Lunch, a Manila restaurant established in 1914, touted as "The Only Place In The Orient"--whatever that means. Though popular in its time, I have not uncovered much information about Plaza Lunch, but a lot can be told about its manager-founder, American Fred M. Harden. Harden married Filipina Esperanza Perez in 1917, and together they started several successful businesses, acquiring prime real estate and valubale property. In 1938, they stopped living together. In connivcance with another Filipino, Fred spirited away cash and assets from his wife, thus committing fraud in the administration of their conjugal ownership of properties. Sued by his wife in a case that reached the Supreme Court, Harden was subsequently jailed at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa.

"Mirror, mirror in my pocket, whose criminal case is in the docket?.."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"At the wheel of the Nation", is my guy, Pres. Ramon Magsaysay (1907-1957), immortalized as a wind-up mantle clock, posed literally steering the country to progress. But as we all know, time ran out prematurely for Magsaysay when an airplane crash took his life in 1957. Made of cast metal, figural clocks of politicos like these are more common in the U.S. (I have seen a Franklin D. Roosevelt version of this). I found this Magsaysay clock in a Bulacan junk shop and have seen non-working examples go for as much as 3 Thousand Pesos in antique shops. Rarer is the Manuel L. Quezon clock that looks not much different than this. The clock face and mechanism of this timepiece have been lost a long time ago, but the glass is surprisingly intact. A new coat of paint and a replacement clock are all this needs to make my guy go tick-tockin' again!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I saw the movie version of this 1974 TV cult classic, and was sorely disappointed at the film re-make. Cha-ka looked so downright dumb, the acting was way over the top and the special effects failed to excite. Well, I guess their new creators never knew the Pakunis that much. Anyway, the original Land of the Lost recounts the adventures of the Marshall family who were trapped in an alternate universe inhabited by dinos and denizens like the humanoid lizards called Sleestak and stone age Pakunis. Created by the prolific Sid and Marty Krofft (they also gave us H.R. Pufnstuf, Bugaloos, Wonderbug and Sigmund and the Sea Monster, to name a few). The episode storylines focus on the family's efforts to survive and find a way back to their own world. Before they could retrace their way home, lunchbox manufacturer Larami freezed a Marshall family moment in this metal box, dated 1975. A neat way to eat your dino meatburger, you like Cha-ka?


In the 60s, "Coca Cola Body" was used to describe a lady with a sexy, hourglass figure, in reference to the familiar shape of the Coke bottle. But early 1900s Coca Cola bottles actually had straight sides, as this ca. 1908 American example shows, bought from a Cebu collector. The color, too, is aqua, and the brand font seems cruder than the more flowing typeface used today. But whether sexy or straight-sided, vintage Coke bottles are one of the hottest collectibles in the market today--the pasue that continues to refresh!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

48. Movie Poster: TAGUMPAY

A small handbill features the pairing of the Golden Boy of Philippine Cinema Rogelio dela Rosa with Arsenia Francisco in one of the first post-war movie offerings of LVN Studios, entitled "Tagumpay" (Victory), with obvious patriotic stirrings in its theme. Rogelio eventually became a senator and a diplomat while Arsenia became the wife of Jose Padilla Sr. This piece of showbiz ephemera came from a dealer in Bulacan whose family owned the printing press that printed these cheap newsprint promotional handbills.


"Palikero" is the Filipino term for a "dandy", an apt brand name for a local pomade product manufactured in the late 1930s. This small paper label, featuring a photo of an unidentified Hollywood star with slickbacked hair, was once glued on the front panel of a bottle with a tin cap, just like the way popular brands of the day like Tarzan, Verbena and Three Flowers were packaged. Hair pomades left hair greasy and gleaming with oily luster--just what the girls go for in their men!

Monday, September 14, 2009


This small Filipina doll, made in the 1930s for the tourist trade, was an ebay find. Philippine curios were quite in demand during the American occupation, either bought by visiting tourists or Americans based in the Philippines, for sneding to friends and relatives back home. This doll is typical of those cheap souvenirs peddled by outlets (such as San Juan Store, as the box label shows) all over Manila.

Made of composition and dressed in a native baro't saya, the features of this jointed doll are hand-painted. It is wigged and outfitted with non-blinking glass eyes. The molded head has cracked and the body shows signs of peeling paint. Despite the flaws, this doll has quite a history, as documented by the ebay seller.

Indicated on the box are the pencilled notations: "To the secretary of Gov. Frank Murphy". It turns out that this particular souvenir doll was given as a gift to the secretary of a fomer Governor-General of the Philippines at the time of the Commonwealth. William Frank Murphy (1890-1949) was appointed as a Governor General of the Philippines from 1933-1935--the last American to serve. He also served as the first High Commissioner of the Philippines and after his Philippine assignment, went on to become a Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan and the Attorney General of the U.S. His contributions to his leadership of the Philippines were recognized by way of Fifty Centavo and One Peso Coins minted in 1936 with his likeness.

As for his secretary, the recipient of this pretty souvenir, no records of her remain.


Radio rules the airwaves in the '50s as Pinoy audiences cocked their ears to listen to their favorite rock-around-the-clock music programs, Tita Betty's Children's Hour, radio drama serials such as Dr. Ramon Selga, Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang, Edong Mapangarap, Kwentong Kutsero, the fiery commentaries of Rafael Yabut and the pieces of advice from Tiya Dely Magpayo and Kuya Cesar. Plastic radio consoles such as this German-made example were staple in every Filipino living room, a Pinoy lifeline to news, information and entertainment. I was ecstatic when I purchased this working model in Chatuchak collectible shop, lugging it all the way home in my suitcase. Occasionally, I would plug it to listen to my favorite programs. Listening to the voice of Kanye West, Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake coming out from an old-fashioned radio just feels...weird.


Tripod lamps--alongside stiletto-legged tables, Sputnik lights and molecule clocks--were all the rage in the '50s. The sleek and streamlined look of the atomic age inspired the manufacture of countless furnishings and accessories for the modern mid-century home. A relic from this era is this wonderfully preserved tripod lamp--a Php 200 Bangkal find. The narrow circular shade caps a cone supported by 3 tubular sticks, a minimalist, but a functional creation perfect for a den or a study.


Found these '50s figurines representing three African maidens a-dancing--complete with grass skirts-- in a local thrift shop. Ethnic types that included Indians, Asians and Africans, were favorite models for cheap figural decoratives from the 1940s-60s. This trio must have been kept in a glass cabinet; they are perfectly preserved after all these years. Could they have been the inspiration for The Supremes?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Back in the 1960s, these little books with their golden spine and wonderful cover were every child's dream birthday or Christmas presents, but they were so hard to find in the Philippines, I had to rely on used editions generously given by the kids of our American tenants. Thank God, these Little Golden Books were very hardy and durable so I still have these today. Launched in 1942 by Western Publishing in Racine, Wisconsin, LGBs were affordably priced at just 25 cents each, available to almost all children, not just a privileged few.

Since then, billions of LGBs have been read by children the world over, mirroring popular culture over the years. My favorites include Lassie,Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Captain Kangaroo, Bozo the Clown, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, Smokey Bear. Later stories were based on characters coming from Hanna Barbera, Sesame Street, Barbie and even Pokemon. Today, LGBs, published by Random House, are little no more: they're big collectibles and were even exhibited at the Smithsonian!

41. SHIRLEY TEMPLE, Child Superstar!

The most well-known child actress of the 1930s was born in 23 April 1928, rising to fame at age 6 for the movie "Bright Eyes". During the Depression years, the films of this bedimpled moppet made her filmdom's top grossing star. She acted, sang and tap-danced her way in movies such as: Stand Up and Cheer, The Little Colonel, Rebecca of the Sunnybrook Farm and won acclaim for singing "On the Good Ship Lollipop" and "Animal Crackers in my Soups" which became her trademark songs. In 1935, Shirley Temple received a special miniature Academy Award Oscar "in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934." After her film achievements she began a notable career as a diplomat with assignments in Ghana and Czechoslovakia and retired from public life, occasionally coming out to receive the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2006.

Before long, the adorable Shirley became the darling of Hollywood's merchandising machine. Capitalizing on her popularity, millions of Shirley Temple materials flooded the market--from dolls to coloring books, kitchen ware to children's clothes, calendars, music sheets, baby carriages and all sorts of toys. Shirley temple dolls are the most desirable, especially the early composition ones produced by Ideal Novelty, commaning hundreds, and even thousands of dollars when found in pristine condition.

This precious 10 in. Shirley Temple doll, was found while rummaging at Makati Cinema Square over 10 years ago. Somebody saw me looking over a box of old action figures and dolls, and she approached me if I'd be interested ina doll her late grandmother owned who told her that "the doll was a Hollywood actress doll named Shirley", and that she had owned it for many, many years. The next day, we promised to meet, and in a plastic bag, she had this doll, her limbs loose and her clothes scruffy, but nevertheless complete. And yes, it was an early composition Shirley Temple Doll--identifiable through the name of the maker incised at her nape.

I paid for the doll for 250 pesos, took her home, give her a good cleaning and replaced the elastic that held her arms and legs. Later, I got a genuine vintage Shirley Temple button from an international toy auction, which she now produly wears. My Shirley Temple is ready once more to stand up and cheer!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

40. Boxed: THE BEE GEES

"When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall...." there were the Brothers Gibbs--the Bee Gees--Maurice, Robin and Barry. The Bee Gees were an alternative to the Beatles as their early 60s songs were more mellow with neat harmonies--Spicks and Specks, Holiday, New York Mining Disaster, Cherry Red. But the Beatles juggernaut was in full force then and so the Bee Gees had to play second fiddle to the Fab Four--that is, until the Disco Craze came along. The soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever" catapulted the group to mega-stardom, earning a horde of new found fans.The massive global impact of both the film and the soundtrack was seismic, bringing the disco sound into the mainstream. Soon, everyone was dancing to the beat of "Stayin' Alive", "Night Fever", "More Than a Woman" and other hits. Lunch box companies took note of the resurgent fame of the Bee Gees, which was parlayed into a metal lunchbox you now see here.

Maurice would die in 2003 (younger brother Andy died much earlier, in 1988, of a heart problem) and the Bee Gess were never the same again. But whatever, their memory is still "stayin' alive..stayin' alive...ha-ha-ha-ha-stayin' aliiiii--iiii---iivve!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

39. TEKS: Philippine Collectible Cards

Back in the '60s and '50s, Filipino kids spent their precious centavos collecting "teks" cards, the local equivalent of American trading cards. These "teks", available at the corner sari-sari store, showed hand-drawn Filipino or American superheroes (Superman, Mandrake the Magician, Batman, etc.). Others featured running story series (such as the one shown here, "Master Kung Fu") that looked like panels of a comic book when put in a correct sequence.

These cheap cards, printed on cardboard, were numbered so that a whole collection could be assembled--to be traded, swapped or kept as childhood treasures in shoeboxes. One could also accumulate "teks" by playing a toss-up games with friends, derived from the traditional "cara y cruz" rules. "Teks" have all but disappeared in the growing-up years of Pinoy kids, being replaced with fancier and more expensive Pokemon Cards, NBA basketball cards and gaming character cards that kids now stash away in binders, to be seen and not played. So unlike our own "teks" that you can hold, shuffle, flip, toss in the air--and still love afterwards. Kids collect cards--not thinking about return of investment, but just plain fun.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


"Konting bato,
konting semento:

Heroes' busts such as this, used to be so common in public schools, often decorating libraries, the principal's office and even social halls of elementray schools. Now, it seems, they've all gone to monumento heaven. I found this well-casted cement bust of Andres Bonifacio (Katipunan founder, if you recall your 3rd grade history) in a house demolition shop, and immediately snapped it. I haven't figured out what to do with it, but the cement-faced Great Plebeian makes a good book-end at the moment.


Before Bruce Lee popularized those high-flying kung fu kicks, he actually did something similar years before--in the TV crimebusting series, "The Green Hornet". He played "Kato", the Green Hornet's (played by Van Williams) martial artist-sidekick. "The Green Hornet" was based on a radio serial created in the 1930s revolving around the explouts of a masked crusader and his Japanese aide "Kato". When World War II broke out, "Kato"'s nationality was changed to Filipino. As the world knows, Bruce Lee became even more popular than Van Williams. This coloring book is a remembrance of the short-lived TV series that paved the way for Lee's stardom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

36. Now Appearing: DONNY & MARIE Teenage TV Celebrities!

"She's a little bit country, he's a little bit rock 'n roll..".
So goes the song that made these two toothy siblings world-famous. It was their signature song for their "Donny & Marie" TV variety show series, which aired from 1976-79 on ABC. The show elevated Donny and Marie to teen heartthrob status and generated TV merchandising collectibles such as these dolls made in their likeness. Other fun stuff inspired by the show included a TV play set and a wireless song microphone. Eventually, the show lost its appeal when Donny got hitched to wife Debbie Glenn and was reformatted. The show bit the dust in 1979 but the singin' siblings reappeared as talk show hosts in 1998. Their "Donny and Marie" talk show lasted till 2000.

Last time we saw Marie was as an injured contestant in "Dancing with the Stars", while brother Donny lost a celebrity boxing match against Danny Bonaduce of Partridge Family. Oh well, as their parting song went.."may their tomorrow be a perfect day, and may they find love and laughter along the way...may God keep them in his loving care..till we meet them together again..Good night, every one!"