Friday, October 25, 2013


Cafiaspirina wa the pain relief medicine brand that rivalled bestselling Cortal in the 1950s. It was produced by the pharmaceutical giant, Bayer, which gave the world, Aspirin. The name Cafiaspirina was derived from Caffeine and Aspirin, two ingredients of the tablets, and grew to become a popular pain medication brand in Latin American countries.

Cafiaspirina made headway in the Philippines through effective trade marketing supports given to local boticas/ farmacias or drugstores. The company gave away large enamel signs bearing the names of the drugstores as well as advertising messages of the brand.

"Stop Pain! Feel Fine Again!", the nurse mascot proclaims, advising consumers to experience the triple-action benefit of New Formula Cafiaspirina--"2 marvelous pain fighters in every wonder tablet!". 

The weather-worn enamel sign has some paint losses and dents which have been professionally touched up by my local painter.  Moulded enamel metal signs such as this are no longer made as they were expensive to produce. These days, stores favor cheaper, more waterproofed signages made from tarpaulin and plastic. Hopefully, I will find a counterpart Cortal sign to match my Cafiaspirina soon!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

276. The Bangkal Picker: TIPOS DEL PAIS CARVINGS

One of my most recent exciting finds from Bangkal is this lovely pair of tipos del pais carvings, made from batikuling and standing about 18 inches high. The above photo shows them in restored condition; the farmer figure originally had a broken salakot, and a few missing teeth on his wooden harrow. The woman vendor, on the other hand, had a broken finger. I found these two, largely ignored by buyers, on a table together with newer Nativity figures.
As you can see, they are realistically carved with rich details, right down to the texture of the woman's saya and the fruits on her bilao. Both figures stand on a carved, framed base. I have no idea where these came from, or how old they are, but they seem to be from the 50s. These were definitely made for the tourist market, perhaps made in the tourist area of Mabini, or from caring centers in Pampanga and Paete. Originally priced at Php 2000, I managed to bring down the price to Php1,800.
A few days after their restoration, I chanced upon this picture from a Pampanga dealer, taken over 15 years ago. He kept tab of his sold items by taking photos of them. I was amazed at the similarity of these carved figures with mine; the woman represented a female vendor, while the man seem to be a fisherman carrying a net. Even the bases are identica--both are framed with a differnt wood molding. The dealer told me he sold these pre-war pieces for Php40,000, quite a sizeable amount 15 years ago. This validates that, indeed, I am now an owner of a pair of carved treasures--the only difference being the price at which I got them. That's why if you have the patience to scrounge and dig around the junk heaps of Bangkal, you are certain to find your own surprise treasure too--at a price you can afford!.