The Antiques section of the local ebay Philippines is a misnomer, because 90 percent of the items listed there are not really antiques; in fact, a lot are reproductions purporting to be old and valuable. Most items featured are horrid house décor and trashy second-hand discards—books, bottles, paper documents, old records. The remaining 10 percent are real antiques alright, but the quality is often suspect—you have defective santos, broken house parts and collectibles in poor condition.
So it was a pleasant surprise that I saw this tabletop bastidor santo of the Buenviaje Virgin (complete title: Nstra. Snra. de la Paz y Buenviaje, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo) for sale by an ebay dealer based in Parañaque. You can see from the quality of the carving that it is a fairly good piece, despite the loss of a base.
Although a bit scruffy in some parts, the two-foot santo bears its original paint as well as its silver-plated metal accessories: crown, halo, scepter. The bidding hours came to an end and this santo went unsold. I lost no time in contacting the dealer who agreed to let go of the santo to me at a discounted price.
After securing a photo of a similar image posted on a friend’s online album, I hied off to my restorer to begin work on my Buenviaje. The only major re-work was the addition of a base, the design of which was worked on by Raffy’s carver, using the photo as a reference.
The face of the morena Virgin was easily retouched, but the bastidor body was left, as is, as it was still in good condition. After a wig of long, dark, wavy hair was placed on the image’s head, the Virgin was ready to be redressed.
When it comes to vestment designs, I really leave everything to the experts. Raffy showed me the design inspiration for the embroidery, from an antique cape.
The pattern showed interlocking gothic designs that were then filled with leaves and flowers. The Virgin’s tunic was to be in light pink while the cape, in blue.
A few weeks after, it was time to bring the Virgin home. And here is the beautiful result of that journey that began with the discovery of our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage on ebay and ended with Her enthronement in our home altar.