Thursday, July 26, 2012

232. LETTER ART: Victoriano Caballero

While scrounging around for some worthy finds at the antique row of NLEX's Sta. Rita Exit, I came upon an old religious print of the "Virgen de la Paloma"--tattered beyond repair--framed in a crumbling gesso'd picture frame. It was a pity that the print could no longer be salvaged, it had large missing parts--but the dealer pointed out to some possible paper treasures found at the back of the picture. Indeed, 3 pieces of paper were found sandwiched between the frame and the print, acting as backboards.

I was immediately drawn to a 22 x18 sheet of browning paper--a watercolor letter art bearing the name "Victorino Caballero". Letter art was a popular Filipino past-time, and the best examples were the water color 'letras y figuras' creations in the 19th century. "Letras y Figuras" refer to an art form involving the painting of the letters of the alphabet by ingeniously forming their contour out of the shape of human figures, animals, plants, and other objects. The foremost proponent of these charming folk art pieces was Jose Honorato Lozano. 

Simpler letter art involved embellishing individual letters with design elements like floral motifs, just like this example, thus creating a new font style that is at once pleasing and beautiful. This, actually, is a memorial piece--bearing the name of the dear departed. Underneath Victorino's name are pencilled inscriptions--indicating that this was unfinished: "Namatay ng icadalauampo ng Octubre ng taong isang libo ualong daan at ualong po at lima" (Died on the 20th of October in the year 1885). This work certainly was done after 1885, maybe a few months or so after the departure of Victorino from this mortal world.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

231. God Wave The Queen: SOLAR QUEEN LIZ

2012 marked Queen Elizabeth of England’s Diamond Jubilee Year and as a tribute, this limited edition ‘Solar Queen’was created by Kikkerland Design of USA and Canada—made in good ol’China, of course.

My sis, who vaguely appreciates my bizarre hobby, sent this animated doll to me from her New Zealand home base. How does it work?

Well, just place the Solar Queen in the sunlight and watch Her Majesty wave with a subtle twist of the wrist. This gesture, cultivated over the centuries, is the true mark of royalty. The solar panel on her handbag is her power supply, so she never needs batteries—which means she may just wave forever!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I was scavenging for old reading materials at a thrift shop at the famous Cubao Expo when this book with a familiar green cover caught my eye. Yes! It’s the same textbook we used in Grade 4, if I remember right—entitled “Your Country and Mine”.

 It was authored by Catalina Velasquez-Ty, Tomas Garcia and Antonio A. Maceda, published in 1954 by Ginn and Company, a well-known American publishing firm that had offices in Boston, new York and—Manila!

Once I leafed through the pages, I was transported back to my grade school days, when I used to admire the beautiful full color artworks that appeared in the book.

Little did I know that the illustrations were done by Cesar C. Amorsolo (b.1903/d. 1998) – Fernando Amorsolo’s nephew. His father, Atty. Alejandro Amorsolo also painted. Orphaned at the age of 6, Cesar went on to live with his uncle Fernando, whom he would serve as his assistant for 30 years.

Coming into his own, he painted in Manila, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, where he stayed for 7 years. Gifted with a fine hand, his paintings of rural scenes carry the same unmistakable Amorsolo lighting. Ginn and Co. often commissioned him to do artworks for their books printed in Manila, doing illustrations in oil, pastel and occasionally, watercolor. Cesar Amorsolo belongs to the so-called Mabini artist group who painted in the folk genre for the tourist trade.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Now this battery-powered tin chicken toy caught my fancy in a roadside shop--only because of its  unsually funny complex features--it pushes a pram containing her bobbling-head chicks, walks with a loud squalk while moving its wings and then stops to lay 2 plastic eggs! Now that's a weird playtime pleaser! I've seen a couple of YouTube videos of similar egg-laying chicken toys--but not like this pram-pushing variety. The condition of this toy is perfect--maybe it's missing 1 egg, but other than that, I see no major mechanical defects. Which leads me to believe that this is a newer toy model, possibly from the 70s? Or even later. I originally thought this was made in Japan, but a reader corrected me--it's made in China (thanks RodC). What a fine feathered find!