25 Aug2006

bowl1

My grandmother was an avid collector of Chinese and Indochinese ceramics and antique furniture as well as just about any odd curio that individuals brought her way in the 1950’s to 60’s. She had old telephones, religious paintings, Santos, Chinese ceramics, as well as Japanese samurais, Buddha heads, Muslim brass vessels, ancient teeth(!) embedded with precious metal and lots of meteorites…bowl2she also had lots of colored glass from the 1940’s onwards. It was not a collection destined for a museum, but an incredibly varied and personal selection of items that caught her fancy. It was her hobby and it kept her busy and brought her much pleasure. She never treated the stuff like it was untouchable, quite the contrary in fact. As kids, my siblings and I played games using old coins, napped on graceful old hardwood furniture with solihia (woven cane), slept in huge creaky four poster beds swathed in mosquito netting while telling ghost stories, and took baths out of huge glazed ceramic bathtubs that were probably over 200 years old and whose water sometimes harbored bug larvae. The house had dozens of chandeliers and oil lamps hung a few feet apart…not to mention a grandfather clock that eerily tolled on the hour and and in 15 minute intervals… and if the clock didn’t spook you while you snuck to the kitchen for a glass of cold water, the resident tuckos (ghekos) or the shadows of the large swaying langka or tambis trees in the garden outside probably would do the trick. Lola’s house was one of a kind, truly memorable, to say the least. Every nook and cranny of the house was filled with knick-knacks, the only common characteristic being they were probably old, dug-up out of graves or purchased from folks who faked antiquity…

Over the past 6 months I have been spearheading an effort to clear out ancestral homes and after sorting through tons and tons of stuff, I have come to the conclusion bowl3that I will definitely die with cleaner closets. Leaving the clean-up to your descendants is a bit cruel. But sifting through all of this (sometimes with several of my siblings) does have its benefits. I have picked a few items from my mother’s pantry that were given to her by my grandmother that I now actively use rather than leave in display cabinets. They are special because they evoke memories or meals with my parents and grandparents, not because they have a high monetary value. Up top is a 1940’s or thereabouts pressed glass fruit bowl. Lola had them in green, red, dark blue, and this terrific light blue glass. There are similar items on ebay at about USD5-20, so it isn’t precious, but it was my Lola’s before mom’s and that’s what makes it doubly special to me. The glass is actually quite thick and you can see where the seams of the molds were, so this is definitely not fine crystal…

There are also several cake stands that could also be used for fruit and I have a dark green bowl4one, a blue one and a clear glass one as well. I recall exactly where in Lola’s dining room shelves these were stored along with tons of other stuff for the table. I now use them for fruit, sweets such as pastillas, and you have probably noticed some of these items in photographs I have taken in the past few months…I also have a couple of dark green pressed glass bowls that are in the last photograph, here. What is interesting about some of these older pieces is how simple yet now modern again their lines have become. In many cases, people store these items behind glass cases and rarely use them, worried about breaking them. But I think my grandmother and mother would be thrilled to see that they are back on the table being used and appreciated…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. edee says:

    i think we also have a similar dark green bowl at home, i’ll check when i come home……this post reminds me of my lola ….she had some interesting stuff as well,mostly antique sto.ninos and other santos if my childhood memories serve me right…..i’m really missing my lola now, sadly she passed away and my coming home this christmas will be tinge with sadness……thanks for this post, for making me remember my own childhood with my lola …..

    Aug 25, 2006 | 10:56 pm

     
  2. bugsybee says:

    I had the pleasure of making an inventory of my lola’s pantry about a year ago and I found glass bowls similar to the ones you have in the photos here. There were a lot of other things – not really fine glassware – that I found fascinating but sadly, none of us are interested in them since we’re not much of a party people. I sometimes wonder what’ll happen to them when we’re gone. … I’m curious about your lola’s ancient teeth collection. How about some photos?

    Aug 26, 2006 | 1:21 am

     
  3. victoria says:

    hey, MM….I have exactly one that looks like bowl#3 (blue one)!! We found it when we were tearing down the ancestral house of my mom’s family to build a new one. A lot of other stuff too – plates and bowls my mom tell us she thought were won from those games at the ‘perya’ or makeshift fairs and carnivals that came with the annual city fiestas. Also part of my fascinating collection were ancient ‘kikkoman’ bottles and pomade cans. Nostalgic…

    Aug 26, 2006 | 1:52 am

     
  4. oggi says:

    Japanese samurais, ancient teeth and meteorites! Your Lola sure was fascinating MM.

    Aug 26, 2006 | 3:30 am

     
  5. lars says:

    My lola have several of those colored glassware too and I have appointed myself guardian. My lola said they were acquired when she was just starting her family, so it was prolly in the 50’s. I use them when my grandparents come over, I’d like my lola to see that her things are still appreciated and taken care of.

    Aug 26, 2006 | 5:49 am

     
  6. millet says:

    i love blue glass, love the blue footed cake/fruit stand. that was made for six ponkans, or a superb leche flan, or a small, tall chiffon cake with white frosting..ganda!

    Aug 26, 2006 | 8:28 am

     
  7. kulasa says:

    Cleaning house may be such an ordeal but the treasures and memories that come along with each piece you see are priceless.

    I have most of the stuff from my lola since my siblings thought I should have them. Most of the glasswares are shades of blue, green, or just clear. My aunts say some are from the 30’s and 40’s pa. Half are still in boxes but this post made me think that it’s time to start bringing them out and using them. Thanks MM.

    Aug 26, 2006 | 10:27 am

     
  8. mita says:

    Carnival glass..my grandmother seemed to have a preference for the pink ones…but she had the blue, the colorless and green ones too…or maybe that was from the other lola.

    Speaking of inherited china…my mother was showing off her china to my very young nieces years ago and said it would go to them when she passed. After a brief silence, the youngest asks, “Lola, when are you going to die?”

    Aug 26, 2006 | 10:42 am

     
  9. corrrine says:

    I agree with Kulasa…more than the price in terms of pesos are the memories that go with these glass and china wares. Frustrated by the quality of baking pan and measuring glass in a Makati department store, I went to Laguna and rummaged through my mother’s cabinets. Lo and behold, I found her yellow and red mixing bowls and aluminum baking pan for upside-down cake. My brother beat me to the glass measuring cup. I marvel that the quality has not changed through the years. Simple stuff but they sure are treasures to me! My mom and I used them since I was 10 years old!

    Aug 26, 2006 | 12:43 pm

     
  10. Patricia says:

    The way you described your lola’s house is a lot like going through my lola’s house in Cebu, complete with the ghekos. As a kid, I didn’t like going to the living room at night by myself because she had a huge collection of masks from all over, one even had something like teeth for a necklace. But she also had a lot of those cyrstals too, like your blue fruit bowl (which went to my mom). I saw similar ones in Greenhills last year and it cost something like P3K.

    Aug 28, 2006 | 11:51 am

     
  11. Mary-Ann says:

    MM, sometimes while reading through your posts, i felt you’re the brother we never had. Your memories about kulambo, ghost-stories, spooky ‘tuko’ sounds, swaying langka and tambis trees were so similar with ours. Except our grandma’s house made of cement with pawid roofs. It was a special place! I’ll always remember Bicol… Your story made me laugh! Thanks!

    Nov 3, 2006 | 4:51 am

     
  12. greasemonkey says:

    =) we may be generations apart (okay, 1 or 2?), MM, but we have so many things in common. this strikes a particularly melancholy chord in me that i would never have thought someone i’ve never met would be able to pluck. i grew up in my lola’s house in Marikina in the late 70s – early 80s so i totally get the whole living in an adams family-esque setting (at least, on stormy nights with the electricity down). i hope i can have the old house restored in the next couple of years…

    Dec 6, 2008 | 6:29 pm

     
 

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