Friday, September 18, 2015


A rarely-seen tableau showing the archangel with Tobias,
  whom he helped in catching a fish. Once home, the angel
prepared a salve from parts of the fish that was
then used to heal Tobias' blind father. This 17 in.
primitive piece was found in a Manila online shop.

Indeed, antique santos can come from the most unexpected places. The advent of the internet has changed the way we shop--antiques, included. Where before, sneaking out to the antique enclave of Manila from my Makati office meant braving jeepney rides and lunch-hour traffic just to check out  new santo arrivals, now, santos are available on demand--thanks to good old ebay, rubylane, or etsy.

A century-old santa of heavy wood, with characteristic
bell-shaped skirt, typical of Bohol santos. The image,
with very sparse carving, except for the very detailed hair,
is polychromed. It was found on the Philippine selling site,, which has since become,

Suddenly, these online shops and auction sites provided a convenient and alternative way to acquiring santos. With just a click, you can be an armchair shopper and check on the antique through pictures provided by the dealer, and read through the descriptions, price points and shipping preferences. Sure there are risks involved in sourcing santos in this manner-- especially with international transactions--but by and large, my online buying experience has generally been pleasant.

This 13 inch santo was found on a Facebook Group that sold
antiques and collectibles. When I first saw it, it was encrusted
with thick grime, but the octagonal base was interesting.
Deep cleaning revealed painted details like stars on the santo's
habit and colors on the base.

Eventually, local selling sites like, started adding "antiques" as part of their product categories, and if one were patient enough to check the items regularly, one could spot a great santo find.

A large and hefty San Pedro, 28 inches high, found on It went unsold after several re-posts, so I
eventually bought it at a discounted price. The santo is
carvedin one piece, saved for the head and hands. 

But what really made santo collecting more exciting was when social media sites became immensely popular. Facebook, for instance, attracted like-minded people who formed groups to share common interests. The sharing eventually progressed into buying and selling, and today, there are perhaps, more than a dozen facebook groups involved in the lively trade.

This looks like an angel fragment from a large San Isidro
de Labrador tableaux, based on the hand position of the
figure who appears like he is manning a plow. The base is a
replacement. It was obtained from a facebook group, and was
shipped all the way from the Visayas to Pampanga!

The santos featured here were all purchased online, from different sites. The deal is based on mutual trust, and I would like to think that the groups of which I am a member are strict in the enforcement of house rules, that mandates inclusion of a description and a price, plus a lot of caveats!

I was drawn to the vibrant color of this very common
preacher saint, a vintage piece that is at once simple,
yet powerfully attractive with its bright hues and tones.
Most of all, it was very affordable! At just 11 inches tall,
it was also cute! It was found being  sold in a facebook group. 

Negotiations and deals are sealed through private messaging and phone calls. Meet-ups and delivery by a courier are the most popular modes of transferring ownership of the item.You would agree that the santos that I have acquired online are a charming lot, with prices no different from antique shops, and in most cases, even cheaper. It takes a discerning eye and an inquisitive mind to spot a santo that's right for you and your budget, and a fast finger to click on the button to type in your final decision--MINE!

One of my favorite online purchase, this heavy folk santo was
emailed to me for consideration, before it was listed online.
It is a beautifully carved piece and has on its original paint.
It stands over 16 inches tall including the base of turned wood.

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