The Cult of Grandeur

We live in The Casual Era.  Some people call it The Era of the Flip-Flop.  Most Everybody looks terrible.  I, for one, will certainly not bother to distinguish the expensive “Hermes” flip-flop from the popular “Havaianas” and the affordable “Beach Walks” worn by the mammoth crowds in the malls.  Rubber slippers are rubber slippers and I say the hell with it.

Girls are invariably dressed in half-yard, make it 1/4 yard, wonders.  That’s if they’re not wearing little more than Band-Aids.  They should just walk around nude and get an even tan.  Boys are invariably in made-for-anorexics T – shirts with Satanic designs and jeans that look as they were used for machinery wipes and target practice.

Why even dress up these days???

Even contemporary houses are casual.  Obsessively so.  The Current Linearity calls for One Great Room where “one can do everything.”  Perhaps have sex even.  Antecedents found in the “California Room” of the 1950s [ FYI, it’s now fashionably pronounced “Kollifohnia” because of The Governator ].  Contemporary furniture looks like one variant of the bean bag to another.  At least in the 1970s, Everything was Shamelessly Synthetic.  These days there are all these blasted pretenses to being “Organic.”  I don’t care if it cost ten million friggin’ bucks and is advertised in “Wallpaper” magazine, it looks like the furniture in my doctor’s waiting lounge.     

Why even put up house these days???

But a long time ago, there were really reasons to dress up and to put up house.  In those days, The Rich really looked rich, and Everyone Else looked, well, decent.  Houses were elegant, with well-defined areas for living.  One didn’t live in just one room; in fact, there were areas in a house one didn’t see everyday.  There were sensible numbers of staff, without which entertaining in high style was impossible.  The gentlemen worked and the ladies kept house.  Yet, despite all the business concerns, One was subjected to a rigamarole of luncheons, teas, cocktails, dinners, and dances.  Everybody was entertaining when they were not being entertained themselves.    Even traveling abroad was elegant, Everyone was well-dressed, well-mannered, and well-heeled.  It was a different time and certainly a better one.  There was Elegance, and yes, even Grandeur, in Daily Life.

     

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15 Comments

  1. June 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Hello G.I. – I posted your photo and some other photos of Mayor Juan Posadas in our website at http://www.cacnnews.org. The photos I posted contain descriptions if you are interested. – Ralph Posadas…

  2. JLB said,

    February 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

    nxgbdfgvzsrdfcsdf,

    u wrote:
    In Negros and Iloilo where many rich family hail—as well as any de alta sociedad family gathering would reflect—, the situation was a bit different. Boys wore Americanas and avoid the Barong Tagalog. To wear the suits meant to be associated to the highest tier of Philippine society which, at that time, was Spanish
    ———————————————————–

    thank you for your interesting insights…
    Most Negrenses wore suits during the 1890’s even though they didnt want to be associated with Spain. ….like General Aniceto Ledesma Lacson who drove out the Spanish forces. He always wore a suit , before and after the downfall of the Spanish regime, and never a barong tagalog ……..even during the american era, men in negros, always wore suits and never a barong tagalog………..negrenses are very clannish and would always adress relatives as either ‘primo’ or ‘prima’…..i noticed filipinos are very ‘regionalistic’…..im just confused if its only the Tagalogs of Luzon who wore the barong in the olden times………..i also saw some very old family pictures (from Central Luzon) in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the men also wore suits and never a barong tagalog………what gives?

  3. February 6, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Toto and JLB,

    I was told by some elder int he family a long time ago that the Barong Tagalog signified the Spanish-Filipino, the illustrado or noble Filipino men. With Filipino blood. And by the 1890s to wear a barong tagalog in the open meant to support nationalism (the Americans and Brits —called “Aleman”—and the Spaniards wore the suits). So as if you look at old pictures of Manila gatherings at the time of Rizal, the Filipinos wore Americana suits on top of their barongs, to avoid attention and chastisement.

    In Negros and Iloilo where many rich family hail—as well as any de alta sociedad family gathering would reflect—, the situation was a bit different. Boys wore Americanas and avoid the Barong Tagalog. To wear the suits meant to be associated to the highest tier of Philippine society which, at that time, was Spanish.

    “i’m curious.. from the very, very, very old family pictures on the side of my family from the southern province ( the sock-shape island ), i never saw the men in barong tagalog… always in a suit and jacket… i thought the “barong tagalog” was the national costume, then and now… i saw a family video made during the 1930’s… the kids wore suits and jackets with short pants… playing in the farm… outing on the beach… the lavish parties, the elegant ladies in the parties, the men in suits with hats on… there was this one part of the video which caught my attention, during a party of my grandaunt… i think it was her debut… the men and women in the room were separated… the men on one side while the women on the other side… you can see the women moved around with so much class and everything was refined… it was old world aristocracy……”

  4. Garganta Inflamada said,

    February 5, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    well, I’m glad somebody can see the photo I tried to post ( and sent Toto the alternate HTML link ) because I sure can’t see the bloody thing.

    ( ichiro, you are too kind. My paternal forebears aren’t all that aristocratic; they’re just old blood from Zambales — but really a minor constellation in the heady mix of cosmopolitan Manila. But one can dream, can’t one? *winks* )

    Hopefully, all technical glitches will soon be fixed.

    G.I.

  5. February 5, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Juancho:

    Thank you very much for the pix. I will have to find a way to post that in this blog!!!

    Thank you for the correction on “Dona Remedios Lizares de Panlilio.” Now, why hasn’t my friend Adjie Lizares corrected me on that one???!!!

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez 😀

  6. Juancho L. Baylon said,

    February 5, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Toto,

    i emailed you a picture of Enrica Lizares at the dining table of her house with Pres. Quezon and Vice Pres. Osmena and several others. i enumerated and identified the names of the persons around the table. Thanks.

    off-topic again: since you’re interested about Enrica Alunan Lizares… her youngest daughter , Remedios, was married to Leon Guinto. a cabinet secretary(?) of Pres. Quezon. former Mayor of Manila and former Governor of Tayabas province. They were childless. Remedios died in the old house in Talisay in 1988. i remember during Easter Sunday, we would go to Talisay to Enrica Lizares’ house. We would look for Easter eggs around the house. The eggs were plastered below furniture… afterwards, we, the kids, would line up while Remedios, or Lola Meding, would hand out fresh Php 10 bills, sitting in her chair…….

    Just a correction, you mentioned somewhere in this blog about “Encarnacion Panlilio-Lizares”… it should have been Encarnacion Lizares Panlilio instead. She was one of the daughters of Enrica Alunan-Lizares. She was married to Adriano Tizon Panlilio of Pampanga.

  7. Garganta Inflamada said,

    February 4, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Toto, please check your email. Thanks.

    G.I.

  8. zippo said,

    February 4, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    G.I.,

    Guess what? You’re related to my 1st ex-wife.

    Z 🙂

  9. Garganta Inflamada said,

    February 3, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Speaking of “grandeur,” or more realistically, old world elegance of pre-war Manila, may I present a rescued photo of my grandmother (and grandaunt) at a November 1929 Ball of the San Narciso Association of Zambales at the then-Club Filipino.

    [IMG]http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y182/templar3/Lilay_cps_edit.jpg[/IMG]

    My (paternal) grandmother is the 4th lady from the left; beside her to the right is her sister-in-law (therefore, my grandaunt), and behind her (so, gent #5 from left) is her husband and one-time mayor of Manila, Juan Posadas. (They were the in-laws of Stella Marfori-Posadas.)

    I had a grand time this afternoon using Photoshop on that picture because it was virtually crumbling — and a pity not to save it, since it’s a beautiful sepia record of old Manila — mainly cleaning up and clearing unwanted creases and many splotches. I can identify the first 3 couples & 4th gent if anyone is interested.

    (Ella es guapa, no?)

    G.I.

  10. February 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Juancho, wow. That’s really something! Somehow, she reminds me of the former Marquesa Koplowitz, the mother of Ester and Alicia of the Koplowitz Billions of Spain.

  11. Juancho L. Baylon said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:28 am

    esdcwedxwasx,

    Yes, the name of Enrica “Capitana Dicang “Alunan de Lizares still resonates up to now for she was an extraordinary woman. She was very thrifty and counted every cent, literally and figuratively… down to the nipponware… everything had to be accounted for… one granddaughter asked for a few cents to buy sandpaper for her school project ( this was in the 1930s ) but her Lola Dicang would have none of it… she gave her granddaughter, instead, a kind of leaf with a rough surface, as substitute for the sandpaper… Enrica Lizares was simple in a lavish way… but very strict and was deeply pious. Her house in Talisay is the oldest, best-preserved colonial mansion in Negros Occidental. It’s the only colonial mansion in Negros with original furnitures and fixtures intact, down to the table linens and curtains…

  12. esdcwedxwasx said,

    January 31, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Oh, I hear the name of that Enrica Lizares lady even up to now. In the last few years, I checked my investment portfolio at the Bank of the Philippine Islands and her name ( or is it her trust or estate??? ) appears together with the Aurelio Montinolas and the representatives of the Manila Archbishops! An enduring hallmark of wealth indeed…

  13. Juancho L. Baylon said,

    January 25, 2008 at 6:30 am

    toto,

    i’m curious.. from the very, very, very old family pictures on the side of my family from the southern province ( the sock-shape island ), i never saw the men in barong tagalog… always in a suit and jacket… i thought the “barong tagalog” was the national costume, then and now… i saw a family video made during the 1930’s… the kids wore suits and jackets with short pants… playing in the farm… outing on the beach… the lavish parties, the elegant ladies in the parties, the men in suits with hats on… there was this one part of the video which caught my attention, during a party of my grandaunt… i think it was her debut… the men and women in the room were separated… the men on one side while the women on the other side… you can see the women moved around with so much class and everything was refined… it was old world aristocracy……

  14. JLB said,

    January 25, 2008 at 5:50 am

    toto,

    i like this post..

    it reminds me of my grandparents. my grandmother told me before that they threw parties at their house — during the prewar years and the postwar years — since there was no television yet in the province, no nightclubs then… so they had to entertain themselves. from the old family pictures, i see a graceful and serene era where people dressed up according to the occasion. the ladies in elegant ternos or kimonas. the ladies always dressed up in skirts rather than pants. the gents in suits and white jackets… just curious though, how can these gents wear suits and jackets in a humid tropical country with no airconditioning back then???

    every action was based on the high moral standards of the roman catholic church… life was simpler and slow then… all the activities of the chruch were significant in every aspect of life of the people. My grandmother told me about the Holy week procession during the prewar years where the Holy Images in the carrozas would be donned with real jewelries from the founding families of the town. times were safe back then, in general. and food was much healthier and fresher during those times. even today, whenever i’m home in the province, nothing comes out of a can, except perhaps for tomato sauce, everything was fresh… it reminds me of my youth at my grandparents’ house… glorious food… the homemade “sans rival”… and every saturday, there would be crabs and fried “lumpiang upod” with the garlic and vinegar dip… i noticed in my grandparents’ household, most everything on our table came from the farm like the rice. the bangus from my grandmother’s fishpond. fruits like lanzones, santol, coconuts, rambutan from my grandfather’s orchard near the mountains. even the vinegar came from the farm which was tastier compared to the commercial ones… i also enjoyed the nightly rosary in front of the image of the Virgin Mary where my grandparents and my titas and tito and all the household help would gather in the living room. some would sit on the floor. the household help would recite the rosary in the dialect while my family in english… i noticed it’s really hard to say the “Hail Mary” in the dialect since i found the words too ‘deep’… one time while in the middle of the rosary, a mouse entered the skirt of the family cook who was sitting on the floor… it was really hilarious, we could not finish anymore since everyone was laughing… i wish i could turn back the clock…

    toto, this is off-topic but did you know that Enrica Alunan de Lizares was excommunicated by the Catholic Church when she committed the ultimate faux pas: by giving a banquet in honor of Gregorio Aglipay, founder of the philippine independent church. she was later reinstated, proof that she was indeed a powerful, even controversial, woman…

  15. zippo said,

    January 22, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Toto,

    I picked up my 15-year old son from his mom’s house last Saturday so we could go to (anticipated Sunday) mass. He was wearing ripped jeans and Havaiana flip flops. I got so angry. I told him that I didn’t care how much his pair of “chinelas” costs, he’s not wearing those to go to mass and to have dinner with his lola.

    Sometimes, I do blame myself since his mother and I broke up when he was only 7 and I haven’t been present on a daily basis to guide him about proper attire. He’s well behaved. He has excellent grades. He’s respectful towards his elders and other people. He has good table manners. He treats girls his age well. He says “excuse me” and “thank you”. He says “po” and “opo” when he’s being spoken to in Tagalog. He’s not afraid to show affection to his parents or to his grandparents. I just cannot get the way he dresses up!!!

    Z 😦


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