Wednesday, November 28, 2012

245. Feeding the Kitty : CLAY CAT COIN BANK

Saw this very folksy clay cat perched on a shelf at the famed Grand Thrift Shop in Cubao, and I just couldn't resist it! It reminded me of those cheap Staffordshire cat figurines from the U.K.--but this local version packs a lot more charm with its expression and color! It is actually a clay bank, made in some local kiln, peddled and sold in the 50s or even 60s. Clay figurines such as these where very popular cheap gifts, and were available at any local market. A lot were also sold by ambulant cattle-riding vendors. There were clay pigs, clay fruits, clay vases, clay ovens, clay everything! -- all hand-painted with hardware paint.

This pussy cat with a sour grin looks like an ordinary, tail-less alley cat, speckled with yellow and black paint to simulate a kitty's tortoiseshell coloring. It stands rigidly on its base, ready to receive coins from a school kid (there's a coin slot on his back), but is unused, hence it's very good, almost purr-fect condition! It's getting harder to find these folk art clay figurines--too laborious to make perhaps, in this age of resin and plastic. Thanks for the meow-mories!

Monday, November 19, 2012


The celebrated miraculous bread, known as “panecillos de San Nicolas”, is known simply in Pampanga as “saniculas’. There used to be a ritual blessing of the cookies before they are distributed, although this tradition is now rarely practiced, saved for some Recollect parishes like San Sebastian where saniculas are still blessed during Masses.The cookie itself is made using age-old techniques and ingredients like arrowroot flour (uraro), eggs, lard, dalayap (lemon rind) and coconut milk.

The “saniculas” wooden moulds which are used to impress the dough with the distinctive imprint are interesting kitchen artifacts themselves. They are often commissioned from Betis and Bacolor carvers, and although the designs vary, the moulds always have the abstracted figure of the saint in the center, surrounded by floral, vegetal and curlicue patterns.

Kapampangan cooks treasure these uniquely-designed wooden molds, which commonly came as single blocks. Some have back-to-back designs, but most are often carved with the owner’s initials. As fine examples of folk art, “saniculas” moulds have also found their way in antique shops.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Time was when every 50s and 60s home had "works of art" such as this--a 3-D painting of some generic rural scene, often bought at furniture shops and downtown bazaars. Cheaply produced, the paintings featured subjects such as nipa huts that were cleverly raised in relief from the canvass using sticks, paper mache and cardboards. Elements such as the roof, the walls and the fences were then gesso'ed and painted, in the hope of achieving a more realistic, three-dimensional look. Think of it as "extreme impasto".

Nevertheless, despite this technique, paintings still looked kitschy and naive. But nowadays, period kitsch have been elevated to the status of folk art, Filipiniana style, and this example--sold at a swap shop--carried quite a price tag, many time its original price.Not even the fancy frame can hide the hideous execution of its theme--from the waterfall that cascades down to become a multi-tiered stream, the cockroach-looking carabao and the bahay kubo that looks like a cross between a log cabin and an Ifugao ulog hut. But as they say, one man's awful painting is another man's precious "outsider art".