An esteemed Spanish mestizo friend showed us through their elegant family home furnished with priceless Filipino old masters and magnificent antique furniture.
It was an absolute delight because there was exceptional beauty wherever we turned… There was an exquisite 1925 “Fiesta” scene and a 1945 “Burning of Intramuros” by Fernando Amorsolo. There was an elegant, Sargent-ish portrait of our host’s great grandmother by Juan Luna. There was a painting by the Spaniard Joaquin Sorolla and two by the Spaniard Ignacio Zuloaga. There were several portraits of the family painted by Fernando Amorsolo in the early 1930s. A memorable 1923 Fabian de la Rosa country scene. A hallway filled with “bocetos” studies by Felix Resurreccion-Hidalgo, Juan Luna, Felix Martinez, Telesforo Sucgang, Fabian de la Rosa, and Fernando Amorsolo.
Here and there were some very beautiful examples of late 19th century Filipino colonial furniture, of the type collected by the gentry.
Because I was taking too long in viewing the lovely paintings, our esteemed Spanish mestizo friend and my good friend proceeded to the vast living room, distinguished by its several arrangements of en suite furniture by the legendary JAO, for a very elegant “merienda” afternoon tea. Laid out on a graceful tea table was an English Victorian sterling silver coffee service. Silver and crystal compotes held an assortment of small cakes, cookies, breads, and sandwiches. The beautiful porcelain was all old Royal Worcester. On a small table was a tray with four carafes of freshly-squeezed juices. From a side table filled with crystal decanters and other bottles came the ever present afternoon “jerez” sherry from Gonzalez Byass. The exquisite, starched linens were all of handmade Brussels-style lace. A well-groomed maid, in a noticeably well-cut uniform with good shoes, stood unobtrusively at one corner to attend to the master of the house as he hosted his guests. Just from the way she stood properly, it was obvious that she had been trained at the “Punlaan” school of the Opus Dei.
I made one wrong turn and found myself at the entrance of the masters’ bedroom. I cringed and walked in reverse quickly because it was never proper to peer into anyone’s bedroom unless one has specifically requested it from the host. As Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy said: “Gentlemen, even at the age of three, one’s bedroom is private.”
The venerable, 75 year old mother of our esteemed Spanish mestizo friend — a doyenne of Manila high society — was on the bed, wearing a “duster” with “Looney Tunes” characters [ a sheath, usually of printed material, worn at home by Filipinas ]. Her head was filled with pink curlers. Her pink feet were raised on four pillows and her legs and feet were covered with “Salonpas” [ Japanese medicated patches ]. She was chewing gum and she was reading — NOT “Town & Country,” “Paris-Match,” “Hola!”, nor even the local society rags — but a local “CHISMIS” [ “GOSSIP” ] magazine with some hot young starlet and stud on the cover. There was quite a pile of new local showbiz magazines beside her, surely purveyed by her many maids. And on the big TV: Boy Abunda and Cristy Fermin: “THE BUZZ”!!!
It was good that she did not see me, for she was fixated on Kris Aquino’s lachrymose revelations…
It certainly was different from all the Spanish mestizo elegance that I had fantasized all along!!! Bwahahahahah!!! 😛 😛 😛