Comedy Relief: “Fifi de la Falaise”

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…



  1. December 21, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Hi Toto,

    He’s a photo and more in the album of Tita Baby last Sept. 7 at my dad’s 89th birthday party…

    Best regards,

  2. December 21, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Toto,

    I am still also very close to Tita Baby and Ampy..who I spent many summers with.

    I never saw your response until now. I hear you now write to a friend of mine in Spain, Andres Maduro!

    Happy Holidays!


  3. Ginger Tabora said,

    August 4, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    OMG! Totally small world Toto! We spent a lot of time with sila Tita Ampy and Tito Panch! My grandfather, Titos Tabora was super close to Lolo Broling! My dad was also close to Tito Panch, so I use to spend a lot of time with Reina and Audrey! I have really fond memories of sila Tita Ampy and her family.


  4. July 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm


    Great to finally see you here!!!

    That turquoise porcelain poodle — and that afternoon of discovery at your house — is one of the highlights of my life!!! *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  5. Ampy Gala de Villa Puckett said,

    July 15, 2007 at 4:50 am


    The blue ceramic dog was bought by Lola Amparing in New York around 1960. Now can I have my privacy back.

    Love Ya,

  6. June 21, 2007 at 12:42 pm


    Thank you for finding your way here.

    The Galas are so much fun… All of them!!! I have spent some of the best and most carefree times of my life with them.

    Now that Lola Nena Gala and Lola Amparing “Lola Boss” de Villa have long passed away, I am still great friends with Lola Nena’s surviving daughters Tita Baby Gala-de Villa, Tita Lilia Gala-Grino, and Tita Leonie Gala-Gonzalez, and their sisters-in-law Tita Ludichi de la Rama-Gonzalez-Gala and Tita Tess Reynoso-Gala. And I am still close to my “Gala cousins” [ my first cousins and their cousins ] Shoda Gonzalez-Pascual, Claud Gonzalez-Klein, Ampy de Villa-Lopez Puckett, Ave Gala-Blanco, Vina Alava-Pelaez, Maritess Alava-Yong, and Itchay Alava-Cuenca.

    I am so happy to know that I am not alone with my fun memories of the Gala and the de Villa families!!!

    That’s a nice picture of Lola Amparing “Lola Boss” and Lola Nena. So elegant!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  7. June 19, 2007 at 6:06 am

    I lived with Tita Baby, Lola Amparing Arguelles de Villa and Lola Nena Gala in the summers when I was about 8 till about 12. They are engraved in my memories and I adore their wonderful hospitality to me. They used to hover over me and make sure I was well fed and my cousin Ampy de Villa and I used to be inseparable. We used to sit around and read Classic comics and get totally spoiled by Tita Baby and Lola Amparing and Lola Nena collectively.

    Here’s a great photo of Lola Amparing, my grandma, Lola Feling’s sister, and Lola Nena Gala, Tita Baby’s mommy, with whom I also lived.

    Diana Arguelles Limjoco

  8. March 11, 2007 at 8:35 am


    Teeny tiny world, isn’t it???

    Yes, Tita Baby Gala-de Villa is still a beautiful lady even if she is already in her 80s. Actually, she looks as if she’s just in her 60s. I guess she’s also the reason why her granddaughters [ Ampy’s daughters with Panch Puckett ] Reina Puckett-Tan and Audrey Puckett-Chiu are also beautiful ladies. Actually, even Ampy was the “crush ng bayan” in her time, before she gained all those pounds!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  9. Natalie said,

    March 11, 2007 at 8:00 am

    This so funny… Ampy is my cousin ( Arguelles/Limjoco side of Batangas City). Her Lola Amparing (her dad’s mom) is my maternal lola’s sister. Isn’t Tita Baby just beautiful?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: