14 Aug2007


All of my ancestors are history. Literally. The Kid has had no living grandparents for a while, which is an unusual situation for someone with relatively young parents. For the past year and a half, I have been tasked with clearing out the belongings of several generations in my family that have piled up over the years. I can tell you it hasn’t been a pleasant task, and if there is one piece of advice I can give you all, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR JUNK for your kids to clear out. It is just cruel in a way. And it is all the more a challenge since every single one of my recent ancestors were collectors and worse, pack rats, collecting ancient ceramics and burial doodads to other more mundane and everyday items. We have (with siblings) collectively taken or purged over 90% of the stuff, but the task continues whenever I return to Cebu. Last week, with two brothers on hand, we made another trip into a basement that would have brought chills up most folks spines when it was at its zenith…packed to the rafters literally with millions of years worth of aggregated history, much of it excavated from people’s graves from the surrounding islands. When i was a kid, this basement had skulls, teeth, bones, ceramics, samurais, santos, buddhas, etc. This was the last call; find something you want, need or like and take it. Whatever churches, museums and schools can’t use, the next stop is the city dump.


As we were culling through some of the remaining items, I spied this rather nice ceramic bowl. It was clearly new, and certainly nothing excavated. With a rough finish in light brown on the outer side of the bowl, it had a smooth green glaze inside. I really liked it. So I set it aside and made a mental note to wash it and see if it was okay under a thick layer of soot and dust. My mom was an active member of the Oriental Ceramics Society of the Philippines, and although she did that mostly because of an interest in old Chinese ceramics, it seems they also took tours to the finest local modern potters… and when I turned this bowl over, it seems it is an early piece by John Pettijohn, one of the well-thought off potters here in the Philippines over the past 25 years… It isn’t very valuable, but it is unique. And somehow, I am convinced my mom came back, if only for a split second, to make sure I saved it from a trip to the dump…



  1. edel says:

    my ancestors were pack rats and collectors of sorts also. one uncle had a collection of wood carving/machine/tools.. not to mention skulls of wild deers and boars.. an aunt had a rock/stone, ceramic collection. my parents were like that also.. included in their collection were my first fingernail clippings, my navel, strands of hair from my first haircut, etc.. then there’s the numerous false teeth of my dead ancestors! eeeewwwwwww!!!! there’s also old watches, old remington typewriters (still working!), old phonographs, etc.. but the best part in the cave of wonders was when i found more than a few thousands of peso hidden in my dad’s bag, belt bag and old envelopes, notebooks.. he just passed away that year (february) and it took me 10 months to sort out his stuff in the province (december).. so like you, i know he came back that time to give us his christmas present =D

    Aug 14, 2007 | 3:53 pm


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  3. millet says:

    love the “efficascent oil” glaze!

    Aug 14, 2007 | 5:46 pm

  4. lee says:

    “efficascent oil” glaze. perfect description millet…

    Aug 14, 2007 | 6:20 pm

  5. Mangaranon says:

    I have been to your grandmother’s home in front of xxxxxxxxx in Cebu. She had quite a collection!

    Aug 14, 2007 | 6:46 pm

  6. thebee says:

    That’s a lovely bowl. Is that the antique shop with the strange-looking creature jaws/mandibles on display?

    Aug 14, 2007 | 7:01 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    thebee, no, it is not. My grandmother was a collector of antiques dating from the 15th century and onwards. She kept them in her home and allowed folks to visit and view them, and in some cases, purchase or trade them. She was one of Cebu’s earliest collectors, though it was merely a hobby of hers, she was a physician by profession… yipes, obviously Mangaranon knows exactly who she was… :) But then again, if you were in Cebu in the 1950’s to 70’s, you would too… She passed away over 15 years ago… Mangaranon, sorry, I had to edit your comment so as not to give too much away…

    Aug 14, 2007 | 8:02 pm

  8. bernadette says:

    wow! an early John Pettyjohn! I tend to also be a forager of “antique shops” in Los Banos when I was residing for a while there. These owners usually are small-time collectors themselves and turn a garage sale into the title of “antique shop.” Your ancestors seem to be pack-rats with a lot of taste ;-). If I had my way, all our things here would be of antiquity…except my pc, of course :-).

    Aug 14, 2007 | 9:14 pm

  9. Apicio says:

    Came accross somewhere that a porcelain connoisseur only experiences true rapture when contemplating a perfect piece of celadon. The glass cases lining the walls of the grand stair well in the Metropolitan display perfect examples of celadon, one of them a small insignificant bowl with two fishes staggard a la yin and yang molded on the bottom. Same shape as your modern sample.

    Aug 14, 2007 | 11:00 pm

  10. Maria Clara says:

    Like the color combination much.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 1:21 am

  11. hchie says:

    You are not alone. My mom is a pack rat as well, she NEVER throws anything away. Getting rid of things has to be done without her knowing or else whatever you put out will just come right back in.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 7:53 am

  12. Mangaranon says:

    I was in your grandmother’s house in the early 1970s.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 5:34 pm

  13. Silly Lolo says:

    Normally I consider blogs to be no more than diarrhea of the keyboard! A lot of “high” opinion that smells!

    But you, Marketman, “you da man”! Your blog has had me lurking around for a month now and today, I started doing the archives! I kept asking myself, Self? What’s with this blog? Why is it giving me so much joy, cpmfort, peace and love? And then I submit a comment. I type hunt-and-peck, my eyes are just about gone, the iMac is in full zoom feature and yet, here I am. What the hey!!??

    Then it dawned on me. Your blog reminds me of family long ago in Canlubang, Laguna.

    Picture this: Lolo stands up from the dinner table and goes after his big cigar. Lola says, “You ate too much bistek, you’ll be constipated for days”. Tita Pilar tells her husband to stop with the lechon kawali already, he’s getting too fat. There’s my Dad moaning about the 4 foot putt he missed that morning.

    Marketman, your blog and your many fans and commenters(?) is/are my family! You are my peoples! All “poodies” (pinoy foodies)! Please don’t stop. And I hope your website keeps growing to where they have go give you your own zip code.

    Many thanks for keeping this silly old man happy all the way out here by the Golden Gate.

    Aug 17, 2007 | 1:12 am

  14. marlon says:

    it’s nice to know that we had a new things that can consider as an “ART”…

    Aug 29, 2007 | 1:56 pm

  15. Debbi says:

    I own a complete set of dinnerware and serving pieces. I had them made in the late 80’s after a visit to PettiJohn’s studio in Manila. They continue to be a treasure to my family.

    Aug 31, 2007 | 12:44 am


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