Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Philippine Free Press, 12 December 1936 p. 32
 By Sol H. Gwekoh

Hard at Work. Surrounded by saints, he always keeps good company.

Where physical defects have been a handicap in the pursuit of happiness and livelihood to a great many unfortunate individuals, to Jose Dakoykoy of Cebu City, they have been a blessing in disguise and an indispensable factor in the attainment of his chosen work.

The fourth son of a family of seven, he accidentally became deaf at an early age. He comes from a family known for its musical talent and artistic taste. His brothers are all musicians, having inherited the art from their father, Marcelo, who attended to the choir of the Augustinian order in the Santo Niño church in Cebu. They now furnish church music and religious music for the traditional and popular novenas in the southern islands.

 Although Jose is deaf, he has not given up his love for art. He embraced early the painting and sculpturing lines, in which, though no Michaelangelo, he does well. From his eldest brothers, he learned to master the brush and palette as well as the chisel.

As a result, for the last 30 years, he has been furnishing Cebu and the neighboring islands with his pastels or miniature images of the different religious characters connected with the life of Jesus Christ in different stages. The rich and the aristocrats as well as the poor go to him for their Belens, especially shortly before Christmas. 

He also does interior decorating and portrait ainting, and designs decorative fancy objects. He works fast and alone throughout the year in his own home which he constructed out of his earnings as a painter-sculptor. Quiet and reserved, Jose leads a peaceful and simple life. To him, cockfighting and gambling, and drinking are mere frivolities.

He is a determined bachelor. Simple and humble as he is, relatively few know of his real talent. Contented with His Art Unschooled in the art and technique of his profession, he is contented and at ease working with crude instruments, principally with a small, sharp knife for shaping objects, and the chelepads of crabs for carving delicate features of images.

From religious and illustrated calendars, he copies his models. From September to December, he is kept busy until late at night when orders for belens from different provinces have to be delievered before the Yuletide season. An ordinary belen of 30 figures sells at between P40 and P60, while the more elaborate, which have bigger characters, cost as much as P150; part of the amount he receives for his productions is distributed to his relatives on Christmas Day.

 Now 54, he still plays native songs—the popular and melodious balitaws—on the guitar, especially at night to comfort him in his solitary life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I took Friday off last week as I thought I needed a longer weekend to recover from the stress of writing, presenting, pre-producing and shooting a couple of commercials. I had not planned on going out on that day—until my Plaridel dealer texted me about some items in his shop “that may be of some interest to me”. I usually dismiss nebulous messages like this—in the past, a dealer had sounded me off about “great vintage paintings” he had, but when I rushed to check, they were just awful paper prints.

When I got there, the first items I saw and, which I eventually took home, was this unusual set of busts representing the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Jesus, in a classic 1950s urna.

The busts, all of 8 inches high, are made of high quality plaster and they have retained their brilliant colors through the years. They are screwed onto the base of the simple, but well-assembled urna.

There are charming home-made flower decorations inside the urna, fashioned from cloth and plastic flowers, with small bottles and caps servings as vases. The backboard of the urna has been pasted on with various estampitas of Agony in the Garden, Virgin of Lourdes and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

A souvenir fold-out paper fan commemorating the blessing of the Redemptorist Shrine in Baclaran in 1952 (and where Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the center of devotion) is also attached to the backboard.

The excellent condition of the santos and the urna's contents attest to the care that the previous owners had for this private devotional piece and I am fortunate to have acquired it for such a reasonable price.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


MILK OF KINDNESS. The carved image of Our Lady of the Milk (Ntra. Sra. De La Leche), as shown on a postcard ca, '20s.

Perhaps, one of the most unusual images depicting Mary is the one that shows her breastfeeding the Child Jesus. This imagery may have begun in a 4th c. grotto in Bethlehem that inspired the Franciscans to put up a Milk Grotto shrine. Taking centerstage was the Blessed Virgin nursing the baby Jesus.

Crusaders brought the devotion to Mary as a nursing mother to Spain in the Middle Ages. The original 16 c. image found in Madrid  is credited for saving the life of an expectant mother and her unborn child, which led the couple to keep the image in their home.

Word of the miraculous image under the title Ntra. Sra. De la Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Good Delivery) soon spread all over Spain and a shrine was soon built, with King Philip II leading its construction. A replica of the image was brought by Spanish conquistadores to America in Florida in the early 1600s and placed in the very first shrine in the U.S. dedicated to the Virgin Mother.

Statues of Our Lady of the Milk in the Philippines are few and far between, but an early statue rendered of this representation is now the center of national devotion. It originally belonged to Ramon R. Ticzon, who, upon his death in 1999, was bequeathed to Remedios Gonzales, a niece.She successfully was granted permission by Jaime Cardinal Sin to propagate the devotion of Our Lady of the Milk in May 2000, through the organization of Our Lady of the Milk Movement.  The church of Our Lady of Fatima in Mandaluyong houses a replica of this heirloom image.

Prayer for Motherhood:

Lovely Lady of La Leche, most loving mother of the Child Jesus, and my mother, listen to my humble prayer. Your motherly heart knows my every wish, my every need. 

To you only, His spotless Virgin Mother, has your Divine Son given to understand the sentiments which fill my soul. Yours was the sacred privilege of being the Mother of the Savior. 

Intercede with him now, my loving Mother, that, in accordance with His will, I may become the mother of other children of our heavenly Father. 

This I ask, O Lady of La Leche, in the Name of your Divine Son, My Lord and Redeemer. Amen.