One Saturday afternoon, my good friend and I visited Tita Luisa “Baby” Gala-de Villa and her daughter Amparo “Ampy” Gala de Villa [ ex Lopez-Puckett ] at their house in Makati. Ampy was in town from San Francisco and it was always fun to spend an afternoon with her.
It was the usual “de buena familia” house littered with all the affluence of the past and present generations of the de Villas and the Galas of Sariaya, Quezon. It was a feast for the eyes of antiques fanciers like my good friend and I because there were many beautiful, and important, things all around the house.
In the living room, there was a beautiful 1830s carabao bone and “kamagong” wood [ Philippine ebony ] inlaid “tindalo” / “balayong” wood [ rosewood ] Batangas “mesa altar” with guilloche flanges [ called “Olympic” by antique dealers and collectors ] as well as an ornately carved 1880s “narra” Laguna commode. Tita Baby had also brought home the entire, elegant French Provincial style living room suite by the renowned Sisenando Baluyut from 1958 of Lola Nena Gala from the family’s fabled Paranaque mansion.
In the dining room, there was another Batangas “mesa altar.” There were also some nice silver “objets,” most notable of which was a curious [ Anglo-Indian? ] compote held up by elephant heads. There was also a 1920s Art Deco centerpiece of a compote with a vase from which hung three baskets.
The family room had a somewhat hybridized “Batangas I” type “mesa altar” on which stood the beautifully-articulated maquette of the 1958 Gala Mansion in Paranaque. There was a generous Batangas divan with an unusual mother-of-pearl starburst inlay. There was also an 1870s crested “mariposa” settee with its four matching armchairs.
The library/office/mahjong room had an array of 19th century ivory “santos” in “virinas” — “Santo Nino,” “San Pedro,” et. al. — perhaps to increase Tita Baby’s chances of winning her mahjong games.
The de Villa-Gala had beautiful, beautiful things…
And so we proceeded up the stairs to see more family heirlooms…
Lo and behold!!!
At the top of the stairs, We stopped in our tracks as we saw this improbable 1960s life-size, turquoise-colored porcelain poodle sitting up at us. Every single one of his loopy curls was carefully articulated. It was incredibly kitschy, but nonetheless very chic…
“Hooooooow Chiiiiiiic!!!” we swooned and drooled simultaneously.
Tita Baby and Ampy were completely baffled. What were these two eccentrics swooning about???
“Ano iyon, ano ah iyon??? Ano’ng ‘Cheek’??? Ano raw ah eh tinutukoy nila, Ampe, ano??? Ano iyon, ano ah iyon???” [ “What’s that, what’s that??? What’s Chic??? What are they talking about Ampy??? What’s that, what’s that???” ] Tita Baby asked in her authentic Quezon Tagalog accent, very surprised.
“Mommy, it’s… that dog, that poodle!!! But that’s not an antique!!!” a mystified Ampy answered with amusement and derision.
“Who said it had to be antique??? Of course it’s not!!! But it’s sooooooo…” we continued drooling.
“Ay iyong Aso??? Ay iyon??? Aba, ay eh galing iyon sa “Aguinaldo’s’ noong 1966!!!” [ “That dog??? That one??? Oh, that came from ‘Aguinaldo’s’ about 1966!!!” ] Tita Baby claimed.
“Why do you like that??? It’s sooooo ‘baduy’ [ outmoded ] already!!!” Ampy wondered.
“But it’s sooooooo chiiiiiiic!!!” we continued swooning. “Beauty parlor chic” actually, so “camp” actually, but what fun!!!
We christened him “Fifi de la Falaise” because the name “de la Falaise” [ as in “Loulou” ] automatically denotes French chic!!!
“Ay, ‘Pipii de la Palez’ daw!!! Sino nga ba eh ay si ‘Pipii de la Palez’??? Ay siya ba ay eh nagma-mahjong???!!!” [ “Oh, ‘Fifi de la Falaise’!!! And just who is ‘Fifi de la Falaise’??? Does She play ‘mahjong’???!!!” ] Tita Baby asked. *lolsz!*
“Ay Ampe, ay ‘Pipii de la Palez’ daw!!! Ay ‘Pipii de la Palez’…!!! Ay, eh ano nga ba ay iyong ‘Pipii de la Palez’???” [ “Oh Ampy, they say it’s ‘Fifi de la Falaise’!!! ‘Fifi de la Falaise’!!! Oh, but who on earth is ‘Fifi de la Falaise’???” ] Tita Baby was amused and bemused.
“Fifi de la Falaise.” So utterly ridiculous He’s High Style!!!
I dream of the day when I will get my own “Fifi de la Falaise” at the Marche aux Puces…