Thursday, June 28, 2012

72. DON FELIPE HIDALGO – Par Excellence Filipino Collector

Don Felipe Hidalgo contemplates a recent addition to 
treasure of rarities:  a solid silver boat money.

A Fortune Is Invested In Oddities

THE MASTER of the House of Art-of Hidalgo is a stubby little man who talks rapidly and gesticulates to better emphasize a point. He roams around the gloomy, convent-like mansion on Tanduay st. which contains priceless relics and art masterpieces of many nations. Attired in dark pants and pongee
pajama coat, a fat unlighted cigar between his teeth, the owner of one of the country s costliest private museums loves to spend the greater part of the day browsing among his painting, old coins, armors and countless other rarities.

The "odd" man who has a fortune in non-profit "investments" expecting nothing more than aesthetic joy in return is Don Felipe R. Hidalgo. One of the distinguished  surviving members of the opulent and artistic Hidalgo family  he holds sway in the realm of private collectors as owner of the most varied art treasure in the country. Conservative appraisal of his collection puts a value to it of a million pesos. 

Personally Art Czar Hidalgo insists no pecuniary offer could induce him to part with his possessions as most of them cannot be found anywhere at any price.

Pieces de resistance of the House of Art of Hidalgo are many original paintings by Don Felipe's internationally famous uncle, the late- Don Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo y Padilla, the Filipino painter who created such immortal canvases as '''Oedipus and Antigone", "Skiff of Acheron", "Christian Virgins Exposed To The Populace" and others that have found permanent niches in art salons of Europe.

But chief boast of Don Felipe's art hoard is its priceless variety. Besides paintings, woodcarvings, cabinets, vases and others of the usual stock which grace the collection of the average collector, that of Hidalgo includes images, medals. jewelry, stamps, smoking pipes, commemorative tea spoons, royal grants, medals and rare coins from all over the world. Valuables of the latter type are stored safely in bank vaults by prudent Don Felipe who believes that modern robbers will steal anything from babies to bath tubs. Friends who wish to see his jewelry, coins, etc. make appointment with him a day ahead thus giving Collector Hidalgo a chance to trundle over to the bank and transport home the objects

Few Manilans know the artistic glamor of the House of Art of Hidalgo. Outside its old walls the modern world in whirlwind fashion goes about its business. Thousands have passed the house, glanced at its uninviting exterior, moved on. But those that contrive to gain entrance to Art Czar Hidalgo's home-museum instantly are captivated with its solemn, palatial magnificence, its roomful of impressive objects that seem to exude life, retell adventures and tragedies of many countries, many races.

Rare and elaborate are the pieces of jewelry and religious antiques in the house of art of Hidalgo.

Bareness of a hospital corridor offers a striking contrast to the first story landing of the art house. Two original paintings of Felix R. Hidalgo , Samurai Armour, steel lions meet visitors

Up the narrow . elaborately carved stairs those seeking beauty and antiquity climb. And her we have a section of the main sala with more paintings, armor, Ming dynasty vases and Spanish cabinets

A religious family is the Hidalgo. Like most opulent Filipinos the Hidalgos dedicate one room of the famed mansion to prayers and mass. Most beautiful of images found in the private chapel is the one on the left. It is over 100 years old, wears glittering earring, pendant and jeweled crown

The family dines in this severely plain dining room. There are rare plates, paintings and historical cabinet. Furniture is Spanish, the table topped with one piece marble, largest in the country
Don Felipe Hidalgo gathers the little as well as the big

Starting from top-left to right.
Grand Cross of the Ecclesiastical Corp of the Navy.            
Grand Cross of Naval Merit-red-1t class pension.
Grand Cross of Naval Merit-white-1st class pension.        
Grand Cross of Naval' Merit-white-no pension.
Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit-white-no pension.
Grand Cross order of Alfonso XII.              
Grand Cross order of Military Merit-red-pensioned.
Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulcher.          
Plaque of Cambodje (Indo China).
Grand Cross of Mejide (Turkey).                
Grand Cross of the Spanish Red Cross.
Grand Cross, Order of Charles II.                
Grand Cross of the Magistracy (For Justice of Supreme Court).    
Grand laureled Cross of St. Ferdinand.
Grand Cross of the Sun and Lion of Persia.            
Grand Cross of St. Hermenegild.
Grand Cross of the Army Chaplaincy.       
Grand Cross of the Military Order of Maria Christina.
Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.              
Plaque of Knight of Isabella the Catholic.
Grand Cross of St. Gregory

Medal of the Royal Philippine Economic Society of Friends of the Country.
Medal of the Royal Academy of Noble Arts of St. Fer-dinand (Spain).
Medal of the University Extraordinary Cloister.
Medal of Public Instruction of Queen Isabella II.
Medal of the Judiciary.
City Hall Medal of the Noble and Loyal City of Manila.
Masonic Emblem.
Medal of the faculty of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. -
Medal of Magistracy.


This was published in the PHOTO NEWS Magazine on Nov. 30,1937


  1. My friend ACastro said: "Some of his collection I think passed on to relatives which later found their way in antique shops. There was even a shop called Hijos de Algo, which claim to sell items from his estate."

  2. A stamp shop in Boise,Idaho was selling a large collection of his stamps a few years ago.