Collection of Religious Chalkware in the Philippines

Chalkware is a molded figurine or statues from  plaster of paris or gypsum. These chalkware items were cheap, popular and mass produce in the country. There are still some local makers of chalkware in the country but confined to small items like figurines, souvenir items for baptism, wedding and zodiac sign statues sold in Divisoria or Chinatown during Chinese New Year celebration.

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year of the rat zodiac sign made from plaster of paris

Chalkware, Eskayola, Plaster of Paris, Carnival Chalkware

Chalkware started the rise in popularity in the later half of 19th century, in  Staffordshire, England, France, Spain, Italy and the United States.

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Photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

Chalkware is also called “Plaster of Paris” since large quantities of the material is found in Montmartre near Paris, France. Some would also refer the items made from these items as “Carnival Chalkware Figurines”. Small figurine items would be given as prizes in carnival and games during that era.

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Photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

It was late 19th century when local artists and craftsmen would use the medium and eventually became more common in the early part of the 20th century.  It is much cheaper compared to wood and can be mass produce in just within few days or weeks.

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photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

Locally referred to as”Eskayola“/ “Escayola”, The material has a centuries-long history in artist’s sculpture studios as well as interior architectural decoration, folk and religious art.

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Santo Niño de Prague made from eskayola ( photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan)

Among the more famous artisan includes Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Mr. Isabelo Tampingco, Mr. Guillermo Tolentino and Mr. Maximo Vicente who would the medium in a lot of their works. Most of their artistic works are exhibited in the National Arts Gallery and other prominent galleries in the world.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5we2yTnMkdChrJLc6

Sacred Heart of Jesus made from eskayola / chalkware probably in the 1970’s

The downside of eskayola/ escayola is that it is soft, breakable and heavy. According to a local artisan, who specializes on wedding figurines and small religious chalkware statues. During the height of their production in the late 1960’s to late 1990’s. They can make hundreds of figurine in just a couple of days ( small figurines 1 to 3 inches height).

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Blessed Virgin Mary made from eskayola / chalkware probably in the late 1970’s ( courtesy of Mr. Carlo Yap)

For small and medium sized religious figurines, It can take between 4 to 7 days. powdered gypsum is mixed with water, the gooey substance can be molded, shaped, or spread on surfaces. Molds are then removed and the surfaces are sanded or worked in various ways and with a range of tools, to smooth, refine, ornament and painting.

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Buddha figurines- the one at the left side was made from chalk ware

Among the popular countries to source these religious chalkware  were from Spain, Italy, France, United States, United Kingdom and Portugal. Some of the items were sold in pre-war Estrella del Norte in Escolta street. The items were an important conversational pieces in pre-war Manila. The collector would focus on the items which had brand name or those with signatures of famous makers or artisan.

Chalkware fragility, and art form is part of the overall appeal. In this regard, they seemed almost human, evoking the characteristic like frailties, hardship and mortality.

Local artisan would also craft wall decor, statues, coin banks,Buddha figurines and nativity scenes from plaster of paris materials.

My aunt told me that almost everyone would have these types of figurines during its heydays.

Catholic Trade in Tayuman, Santa Cruz would specializes in these types of religious chalkware until in mid-1980’s, while some local religious stall and peddlers would still have these types of chalkware until the early part of 2000.

Engineer Celso Buccat was among the first who started making fiber resin statues in the early 1980’s and the technology quickly spread among local artisan and prices of statues drop significantly. 

I can still remember that my mom was able to purchase a holy family statue in Evangelista street, Quiapo early part of 1994 for just few hundred of pesos.

Several superstitious belief from religious chalkware is that whenever one breaks the statue, one must bury or burn the broken statues within the property. One must not throw the religious images on the garbage bin. Another belief is that one must offer the broken image at the nearest chapel or church.

Now, A big portion of religious statues are made from fiber resin, plastic or imported from China or Taiwan.

It is a dying craft and only small items such as those sold for souvenir items are being made. Those who have these type of chalkware must try to cherish them.

Bibliographies and References:

Tara Hamling’s Decorating the “Godly” Household: Religious Art in Post-Reformation Britain (Yale University Press, 2010) explores the uses of large-scale religious figural and ornamental plaster moldings, mantels, wall panels, ceilings, and other interior architectural decoration in Protestant domestic spaces from 1560 to 1660.

Personal communications: Mr. Carlo Yap, Professor Dennis Maturan, Edgardo Gamo Jr., Diana Religious Supply Store, Maro Adriano, Salvacion de Vera and Mr. Peter Andres.

Exploring Quiapo During the Traslacion 2020

Quiapo is a historical district in Manila. our small group decided to explore some of the street while the statue of the black nazarene is still roving within the streets of the district during the annual traslacion.

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Quezon Avenue

 Traslacion 2020

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theme of traslacion 2020

Quiapo is the hispanized name for the word kiyapo/ kiapo/ apon which grew in abundance within the waterways, creeks of Quiapo.

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colored candles for sale

Along with some friends and some foreigner friends, We took a chance to explore the district.

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rosaries and amulets

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leis of sampaguita with camia flowers

We took the side streets and roam around the district and bought some items.

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throngs of devotees and tourists brave the hot afternoon sun and overcast skies

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different colors black nazarene handkerchiefs

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rows of ancestral houses turned into commercial spaces

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vendor of yema and pastillas

We bought some pastillas and yema on our way to Raon street aka Gonzalo Puyat street.

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black nazarene in front of an electronic store along Roan street / Gonazalo Puyat street

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Globe Lumpia with dozens of customer waiting in line to buy their fresh lumpia

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food stall – There were over a dozen food stalls selling a variety of street foods, kikiam, shawarma, fish balls, samalamig and meal viand.

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food stall within the ground of Isetan Recto Mall

The group walked towards T. Evangelista street which intersect Claro M. Recto street and LRT line 2 station towards LRT line 1 Doroteo Jose station.

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Traslacion 2020 crowd is fewer compared to the past few editions. We took the LRT line 1 going home since there were few jeepneys within the district.

American Regime Manila Thru Postcards (part 2)

The Americans who colonized the country in 1898 saw the opportunity to feature much of their newly colonized territories in the orient via postcards, photos and travel brochures.

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Fort Santiago with newly installed electric post

Fort Santiago is an important military outpost and frequently featured in postcards, stamp during the late Spanish occupation and American regime.

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Plaza Goiti

Plaza Goiti – Is located at the back of Santa Cruz church. This is now called as Plaza Lacson where a post modern statue of Mayor Arsenio Lacson can be found. There is also a tranvia station line where street trolley would ply the route. Plaza Goiti is located near two important streets Calle Escolta and Calle Carriedo. The plaza serves as a demarcation between two district Santa Cruz and Quiapo. One can also notice that in pre-war Manila, drivers use right hand side.

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Pasig River with custom house circa 1908 postcard

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Pasig River with cascos, small boats and El Hogar building circa 1910

Pasig River which is the main river which separates the northern district and southern district of Manila is often featured in postcards even up to the late 1980’s.

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Binondo Canal -This is vital to the trade and commerce in the northern part of the district. According to relatives who lived in Binondo before the war, Estero dela Reina would be vital for transportation and those who buy goods coming from the provinces. The Binondo landmark and estero is still there, but only few ancestral houses survive. The estero is now dirty and subject to periodic cleaning by the MMDA and city.

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Binondo Draw Bridge Lift

Binondo Draw Bridge Lift– This is another landmark in Binondo during the American era which is located near Muelle de Binondo street and Dasmariñas street. During the late Spanish colonial rule and American regime; most of the goods, furniture, vegetables, fruits, fowls, grains ply the canals or estero within the city. Due to heavy river traffic, a drawbridge is needed. These were raise to allow boats, cascos ( native boats) to pass through. Most of these boats would ply major markets in the city like Quinta, Divisoria, Arroceros, Paco and Binondo.

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Pasig river with native cascos ( native boats) circa 1910

Because of the large number of these boats which ply much of the city’s canal or esteros- Manila also earned the moniker “Venice of the East“.

The drawbridges survived the second world war, having in operations until the mid- 1960’s one in Binondo and Divisoria.

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Union landing and custom house wharf

The first collectors were American soldiers, tourists, teachers and personnel who were assigned to the newly founded territory.

Manila During the American Regime

Manila and her landmarks were the favorite topics on postcard issues. While parts of the city is modern, There were several parts which were rural with lots of vacant lots, houses made from nipa huts, trees and light materials.

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nipa hut with laundry

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embroidery

Early topics would also includes people washing clothes in Pasig river, trade, laundry, festivals and local customs.

Local and Foreign Outbound Rates

Postal rates were 2 centavos (US and Islands ) and 4 centavos ( Foreign countries not part of the United States ) for outbound mail. Since the Philippines was a US colony way back then, We can mail postcards to any parts of USA , Guam, Puerto Rico and Northern Marianas.

The early postcard senders have a peculiar way of affixing stamp. They would post the stamp in front view rather than the backside of the postcards.

Note: postcard were from the personal collector of the author and some of his friends, who would like to remain anonymous.

Sources and References:

Collins English Dictionary : Postal Card

Littrell, Robert, Ed; Postal Cards of Spanish Colonial Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, UPSS, 2010.

Personal interview from postcard collectors

Philippine Postcards page 130 to 137 Consuming Passions

Traslacion 2017 : Feast of the Black Nazarene

Traslacion 2017 had begun and millions of devotees of the Black Nazarene troop to Quirino grandstand , Manila Cityhall , Santa Cruz , Quiapo and nearby areas .

route of the procession

According to organizers, this year’s feast was centered specifically on the passage from Collosians 3:14, which reads “Pag-ibig ang buklod ng ganap na pagkakaisa.”

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

The Black Nazarene which left the grandstand at past 5:30am is slowly paraded around the streets of Manila.

Black Nazarene devotees

I was accompanied by my friend Darwin Arnuco and a Black Nazarene devotee since 2009 . He would normally visit Quiapo church and attend the mass before opening his store .

Black Nazarene statues

Aside from the devotion , ambulant vendors , merchants and street vendors are making a brisk business . Selling popular t-shirts , towels , statues , pins , key chains , mugs , calendars among other items.

Quezon Avenue around past 9:00am 

I manage to walk past Liwasang Bonifacio , Mehan Garden , Manila Cityhall and National Museum and back to Quiapo before going home.

 

 

A Visit to Iturralde Mansion in Quiapo

 

730 San Sebastian Street , Quiapo , Manila -Philippines

It was hot and sunny afternoon when we saw Mr. Paul Iturralde , one of the descendants of the clan cleaning the  Iturralde House.  I have featured this mansion way back 2014 when Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista Atbp. or simply called KKB conducted one of the heritage tours within Quiapo district.

 main facade with flag pole

This was possible due to the invitation of Mr. Nicky Legaspi, former art curator of National Museum who had a house beside this mansion. We saw him walking around C.M. Recto street during the fire incident at the University of the East ( S.H. Loyola). Since S.H.Loyola street is impassable the the tour group, We decided to pay them a visit.

A portion of the mansion will be use as  for the movie Gregoria de Jesus . He is quite busy cleaning and moving  furnitures elsewhere.

grand staircase made from hardwood

The compound is quite large with 2 other houses . The family is planning to restore the old mansion and will open the house as museum and center ( with library and resource center) . They are also planning to charge a minimal entrance fees to those who wish to see the family ancestral house and former Consulate of Monaco ( Monegasque ) used to be located.

 

Mr. Paul Iturralde showing vast collection of glassware set

We are among the first group of people to see the vast collection of turn of the century cabinets, sala set, old family photos , memorabilias , kitchen utensils , greeting cards , wooden santos and among many stuffs.

family photos

The family photos will soon be restored

 table with glassware set

Our group was given an exclusive tour of the mansion with large wooden staircase leading to the second floor and balcony area where there is an old flag pole which the flag of the Consulate of Monaco used to be hoisted.

art deco style furniture

We were led to several rooms with interesting furnitures and table sets. One table which is like a jigsaw puzzle and can be fitted into oval shape , round with corresponding chairs . When not in used , the table can easily be disassembled into a separate table .

wrought iron bed

The formal diplomatic relations between Monaco and the Philippines was only established about 10 years ago with the Philippines opening a consulate in Monaco.  But Monaco’s consulate general in Manila is the only Monegasque representation in the Philippines. The current Honorary Consul General is headed by  Mrs. Fortune Aleta-Ledesma.

  • Monegasque Honorary Consulate General in Manila, Philippines2178, Paraiso Street, Dasmarinas Village,Makati City,Manila,Philippines
  • (+63) 2 810-9729
    (+63) 2 812-1173
  • FAX
  • (+63) 2 844-3663
    (+63) 2 812-8895
  • EMAIL
  • fortuneledesma@yahoo.com
  • OFFICE HOURS
  • 09.00-17.00

 

bathroom tub

The bathroom tubs and fixtures were imported from Germany

Mr. Paul Iturralde holding the book

The author and Ms. Tina Paterno were given a complimentary copies of  “Treasured Home Recipes”  written and complied by Ms. Julia A. Iturralde in 2000 . Copies can still be bought at the Iturralde Mansion . The book contained several recipes from family members and acquaintances.  Some of the family heirloom recipes dates back to pre-war Manila .

It is a 72 page book with appetizers, snacks, cocktails,  merienda , drinks,salad,  soup varieties , main dishes and desserts. It was published by Fourway Printing Incorporated in 137 Aurora Boulevard , San Juan City .

For those who might be interested with this book,  contact me for details.