ANGELS OF GOD, MY GUARDIANS DEAR. Two santo angels found in an out-of-the-way antique shop, transformed into San Rafael and San Gabriel, respectively. Personal Collection.
It has happened countless of times: an antique dealer would call to say that that he has unique items just arrived, so if I could rush right over to look at some of them. More often than not, I would be shown commonplace trifles and vintage junk, and I would come away disappointed.
In one such visit to an Apalit dealer, I was once again shown some supposedly “heirloom” antiques—but all I found was an assortment of costume jewelry, new ivory santo heads, damages silver and rosaries with missing beads. Oh yes, there was also a Dolorosa santo that I had seen beforeand some ‘bagong luma’ salakots (native hats).
I thought I would again go home again empty-handed until the dealer brought out two small wooden angels that she had almost forgotten. Small in size, wingless and armless, they were, nonetheless, real antique pieces. They were neatly carved from soft wood, and they had all the classic attributes of a typical angel—right down to their helmetted heads, boots, knee-revealing slit tunics and the cloud bases that served as their peañas.
Examining the two angels made featureless by age, I could only surmise what use they had before. Could they have once graced an old carroza? Or could they have been part of a set of 7 Archangels? Whatever, I thought the two were charming pieces worth collecting—I rarely see such kinds for sale in Manila shops.
For a reasonable amount, I acquired these two angels with a view to have them restored in the future. But impatient that I was, I hurriedly took them to santo restorer, Dr. Raffy Lopez, two weeks after I purchased them. I had two spare gilded bases, so I brought those as well, intending them to be used for their restoration. I had no other instructions except that I requested for plated metal wings for the two.
I pretty much forgot all about the two angels in the next 6 weeks; after all, my mind was on my impending vacation in Australia. But I was kept updated with mms photos sent through my phone. When the call came for me to pick up my two angel santos, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I was wowed, to say the least!
One had been transformed into a San Gabriel, bearer of divine messages--represented by a scroll in one hand and a flower in the other.
Another had become San Rafael, holding a staff from which a silver fish dangled. Both have been repainted and outfitted with silver wings.
Once I brought them home, I placed them on a special shelf in my shoebox house.
So there they stand guard, flanking an old metal crucifix I found in a yard sale, these two angels of God, once nearly ignored and forgotten, now fully restored succesfully--with flying colors!