Sunday, August 21, 2011


Like any other collector I am always in the lookout for things to buy for my collection.  I would go to thrift shops and antique stores in Cubao hoping to find a treasure that some may consider as junk.  I noticed that good collectibles are hard to come by these days.  A good source of these collectibles are found in local auctions like the Bayahihan Collectors Club, which conducts auction quarterly. I regularly attend these exhibits and get some good items from dealers and sometimes I bid on auctions.

While i was looking at my newspaper clippings I found this article about COLLECTING by Ambeth Ocampo in the Philippine Daily Inquirer 12/05/2008.  Ambeth narrated his experience when he attended the Bayanihan Collectors Club auction.

Visit their site at 

Ambeth wrote: 

Last Sunday, Nov. 30, while the auction of Southeast Asian art was ongoing in Christie’s Hong Kong, I found myself in the Quezon City Sports Club for the quarterly auction of the Bayanihan Collector’s Club.

Scenes from the auction
I have never joined an auction, and the few times I was tempted to try my luck, I backed out, suspicious that the owner of the item would bid against me, bringing the price up and leaving me with the bag. I must be missing out on something here, but what bring me to these quarterly auctions are the bourse tables where many other things are on sale. It is during these pre-auction activities that you meet with other collectors, compare notes or exchange the latest gossip.

I was surprised to find one of my former students browsing through the table of the veteran collector, lawyer Jorge de los Santos, and asked the latter to give the young man a good discount to start him early. De los Santos is now semi-retired from collecting, but he infected his son Edward with the bug, and it is from the son that I purchase postcards of pre-war Philippines as well as interesting photographs.

My loot was meager. I got a photograph of Sergio Osmeña visiting a certain Mr. Rodriguez in the hospital. The man in bed looked ill, but he sat up for Osmeña, resulting in another photograph showing the same man dead. These were known as “recuerdos de patay” and if it were not bad feng shui to collect them, I would have an enviable collection by now.

The first “recuerdo de patay” I saw was in the prewar El Renacimiento that ironically was named after “rebirth” but specialized in photographs of the dead and dying. They were the original “ambulance chasers” and their reportage can be distressing.

For example, in 1911 they ran a whole issue on Teodora Alonso, Jose Rizal’s mother, showing her from sickbed to coffin. Another issue had Emilio Jacinto on a bier carrying his rifle, while a row of sad faces mourned in the background.

My great bargain last Sunday was a paperweight made by the French silver company Christofle depicting a palm with the various lines read by “manghuhula” [fortunetellers]. Jeweler Ramon Villegas looked over my shoulder as I haggled and argued that this hand was not sterling silver, but silver-plated. He then sneered, “Iregalo mo ’yan kay Madam Auring!” [“Give it as a gift to the fortuneteller Madam Auring!”]

But why would I do such a thing? I don’t even know her. The palm now rests on my table—yet another distraction during deadlines.

Searching on the Internet that evening, I found out that the hand was unique and was never reproduced by Christofle. It was not even for sale; rather it was given as a present in 1973 to their best and loyal customers. So what was this Christofle hand doing in Manila? Who would have bought enough silverware to be gifted with such a useless but beautiful thing?

The De los Santoses asked me to stay for lunch and while there gamely answered questions like: What was the name of Admiral Montojo’s flagship during the May 1898 Battle of Manila Bay? (Answer: Reina Cristina) What is the most impressive copy of the first edition “Noli me tangere” you have seen or handled? (Answer: The one inscribed to Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo by Rizal himself. It used to be in the collection of Alfonso T. Ongpin but was acquired and later presented to Ferdinand Marcos as a birthday present. It now rests in a glass case in the Malacañang Museum.) How much do you think this 19th-century book by Montero y Vidal should cost? (Answer: Not as much as the reserve price at the auction.) I felt like reminding people that I am not the replacement for the late Ernie Baron, yet it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning.

I asked Attorney De los Santos what he first collected as a child. He said they were shiny coins from his mother’s purse, sea shells on a trip to the beach, etc.

I tried to think when I became a collector. Like most children, I started with coins and postage stamps. I remember that long before Pepsi had a problem with 3-4-9 bottle caps, there was a promotion that required collecting all of Snow White’s seven dwarves on the inside of used bottle caps and this was to be exchanged for a round-trip, all-expense-paid trip to Disneyland in California. I remember parents opening more Pepsi bottles than they could drink just to find “Sneezy.” That probably made a collector of me and everyone else of my generation.

Now that I sit and try to remember, it was the late E. Aguilar Cruz who infected me with the collecting virus. Books he gave away. Other trinkets he also gave away. But I remember that he sold me my first painting, a rather impressionistic-looking still life of peeled pomelos by the late Ibarra de la Rosa. I don’t even know why I picked that out of his library floor, when there were other things to be had like pre-war landscapes, a 17th-century image of Michael the Archangel, a bust of Rizal by Guillermo Tolentino, etc.

At that time well over 25 years ago, collecting art or antiques was truly a hobby. It was affordable and there was a lot to choose from. Those were the days, best described by Belinda Olivares-Cunanan and Gilda Cordero when they maintained antique shops supplied from “walkers” and “runners” in Manila’s Ermita district.

Today, collecting is a high-end game of one-upmanship: I have a bigger thing than yours. Sexual in a way, but then all the fun is gone.



  1. gandang araw po..may gusto po sana akong ibenta n plake ng beatle which is about 40 years old po "the beatles 1962-1966" po ang album title..

  2. sir good eve, meron po ako dito isang el oro si emillio aguinaldo, magkano ho ba ninyo yun mabibili? thanks

  3. Anonymous 1 - Meron na akong Beatles 1962-1966 LP. Mas mabuti i-post mo sa "Buy and Sell", marami ang buyers ng Beatles LP

    Anonymous 1 - Estimate ko sa Emilio Aguinaldo medal ni El Oro is 1000 - 2500 pesos.

    For more questions email me at

  4. Kelan po ang next AUCTION?

    1. Visit Bayanihan Collectors Club' Facebook account to know their auction schedules.

  5. Hello!!!

    I have been so touched upon seeing an image of a cigarette wrapper (Islas Filipinas Malolos 1898 logo on the left and El Pacificador Tampoy logo on the right).

    I suspect that this was my great-grandfathers factory in Tampoy, Malolos, Bulacan.

    I would like to email you please on your email address for privacy.

  6. sir hello po ask ko lang if you're interested sa "filipiniana" old books by rizal

  7. like el filibusterismo/noli me tangere 1961 (spanish)facsimile of the original manuscript

  8. 1963 "The First Filipino" by Leon Ma. Guerrero .1963 Memoir's of Gen.Artemio Ricarte .,an so forth.......

  9. sir nais ko po sanang ipagbili lumang gamit ko ung pantabos ng tubo at mga old coins

  10. magadang araw po sir. baguhan lang po ako at hindi pa marunong. nais ko po sana bumili at mag kolekta ng filipiniana. (ephemera at postcards) pre war or older. hingi po sana ako sa inyo ng tip. pano at kung saan ako makakakita. madalas po kasi ung presyohan ang ibig kong malaman. ang inyong tip at payo ay aking pong ikagagalak ng sobra. salamat po.

    1. Visit Bayanihan Collectors Club' Facebook account to know their auction schedules. You can ask some of their members who collect Filipiniana items.

  11. madami po akong coins na luma paano ko po kaya to mabebenta sa inyo ?? meron po mga liberty na error thailand baht 10 rare atbp

  12. Please send me photos of your coins at Thanks