The last time I was in Bangkal, Makati was around 2012. Years before, the barangay had established a reputation as the thrift shop center of Makati, where one could find one-of-a-kind vintage items, and even antiques buried in the jumbled assortment of second-hand "pre-loved" items, garage sale consignments, not to mention the debris and detritus of demolished old houses.
But by 2012, the place had been discovered by antique dealers, and the thrill of the hunt had diminished as the price tags became more expensive and old item became more scarce. The mishmash of articles have also been organized, i.e. Italian decors, Orientalia, etc., stripping the place of its randomness, which was part of the exciting picking experience.
So, I went there, expecting nothing, and saw nothing—until I went to the Bangkal depot—that big compound near the end of Evangelista St., where they drop off all the found items from here and abroad for processing.
There were also stalls there, where objects are laid out on tables and consoles, in disarray. This was more to my liking, my idea of a picker’s paradise—the organized chaos was a sign of many possibilities!! True enough, a table in a back stall caught my eye. For there, behind some kitschy woodcarvings, I espied an antique folk santo, a San Pedro, badly out-of-place amidst crystal ashtrays, resin figurines and decors !!
It’s not a remarkable San Pedro its carving shallow and unrefined, as all folksy santos are. But its condition is impeccable—its height alone is 16 inches, inclusive of the half-inch base. Made of medium wood, the rather hefty santo owes much its charm to its color, still brilliant all these years. Save for the missing key—San Pedro’s square base, paint, hand, base—are all intact.
The image has been painted with house paint—latex—using just 3 colors—black (San Pedro’s hair), yellow (tunic), and brown (cape). The tulip-like strokes that decorate the garments are painted in silver paint, perhaps to mimic metallic embroidery. These floral flourishes, I have seen in many Visayan santos. The provenance was later confirmed by the Seller.
I had to keep the good saint in my hands, as by then, the place was swarming with pickers, Mentally, I estimated the price of the santo, all things considered. When I approached the Seller to ask for the santo’s price tag, I was stunned (but happy) that it was way below my estimate. I made an offer, which she gladly accepted, and San Pedro de Bangkal, the keeper of the gate—was mine to keep.