Thursday, May 15, 2014
195. Heads Up: SAN MIGUEL ARCANGEL
One of the very first santo heads that I got when I started my santo collection was this medium-sized head of San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael Archangel). The head itself is about 10 inches tall, and seems to have been meant for a fully carved (tallado) body. San Miguel is always depicted in full battle gear as he fights the Devil, so he wears a helmet topped with a flower carved in relief.
Outfiitted with glass eyes and carved hair that sports a knot at the back, this San Miguel head has very patrician features, as evident from his straight, aquiline nose and a stern, almost emotion-less expression. I had to do a double take when I saw this head up for sale in a Baguio antique shop in the late 80s. I thought it first to be so unattractive; the thought of buying a santo fragment was rather unappealing to me back then.
I am glad though I got ut (for the princely sum of Php 350)!). San Miguels of this size are hard to come by; if complete, this would have been suitable for display in a church or for a procession. It would certainly have cut quite a fine figure, especially with its battle stance--holding down the Devil with one foot while in the act of thrusting a spear (or brandishing a sword) into his nemesis.
While a popular and an important angel saint, only a scarce number of devotional santos of San Miguel in private homes. People are familiar with his imagery through the Ginebra San Miguel gin label, which has attained an iconic status in Philippine pop culture. The original "Markang Demonyo" label was drawn for La Tondena Company, by no less than National Artist, Fernando Amorsolo, when he was but a fine arts student.
"Ang inumin ng tunay na lalake" was Ginebra's slogan. It could also very well apply to San Miguel Arcangel, the protector , the equalizer, the warrior angel--who always fought his very best in the battle of good versus evil--like a "tunay na lalake".