Segunda Mano shops are popping all over Evangelista. The area is now becoming the new Ermita. I recall how Mabini in Ermita was crammed with antique shops back in the day. They’ve been replaced by money changers. The antique shops hold outs can be found still in Mabini near Calle Sta. Monica.
In these Segunda Mano shops I go for old documents: letters, notary documents, pictures and Filipinianas. If they’re not too pricey books makes great acquisitions but dealers today are aware that collectors are willing to spend good money so they sell high. I remember seeing the classic coffee table book “The Streets of Manila” in 2007 for around two thousand pesos. Now it’s around 10 thousand if you’re lucky.
Segunda Mano stores are more like garage sales. Most items they sell are not really antiques—old sofas, ornamental jars, decorative wall paintings and all sorts of junk. Antique shops on the otherhand, as its name suggest, sells just items that have cultural and historical value.
But the Segunda Mano shops, like the ones in Evangelista, are stocking up on invaluable antiques which makes them worthwhile haunts for collectors of bulkier antiques. For collectors of old documents I’d say there’s not much to see here but if you have time to spare it still makes a good stop over because some interesting documents of historical merit do find its way here.
In one shop I found a mid 1800’s law book bearing the signature of a certain Simeon Villa. I suspect this to be the famed poet Jose Garcia Villa’s father who serve as President Aguinaldo’s close aide during the revolution. He was a physician who kept a journal that provided details on the day to day lives and struggle of the revolutionary government on the run. I’ll probably regret not acquiring it.
Another interesting paper I found are what appears to be sketches of the great Tanay painter Tam Austria. Turns out that they’re consigned items that sells for a whooping 60 thousand pesos. I could not validate its authenticity (nor do I have the money to pay for it) so I examined the sketches without the intention of buying it of course.
In Calle Hen. P. Garcia I chatted with Tita Gemma, owner of a small shop that sells small figurines, paintings and decorative antiques. She too have interesting art works for sale including an early Anita Magsaysay-Ho who aside from knowing the name I know nothing more. It’s a pity that I understand little of Philippine paintings. The owner laments the high cost of keeping the shop. She bares that she often just break even.
In Calle Hen. Hizon, a shop attendant listed the names of celebrities that visited them. I advised him to take pictures next time so he can post it in his store. That would make good advertisement I said. I asked him if he ever experienced multo from the ancient tocadors, mesas and huge aparadors he sells. He said that he has never seen one but he feels some kind of ghostly presence sometimes.
I left Evangelista around high noon and headed straight to Ermita. I still do visit the place to see what’s there to see. More of a force of habit. The prices has gone steeper; they know tourist can afford a higher price (the presyong turista attitude of our vendors). I was looking for a small clay jar for incense and I could not find anything below 800 pesos!
I don’t fancy myself as a collector. Items I’ve collected over the years does not have monetary value. I know because I frequent sites that sells antiques too—not to sell but to window shop.
Nothing compares to the joy of finding portraits of Filipinos, scribbling in Spanish or archaic Tagalog, clothed in the style of an era gone. These fires up all the romantic parts in me—what were the lives they lived, who are they, what were the food they enjoyed the most, what church they attended, languages they spoke, places they visited, are these people my relatives! These questions consumes me easy.
But just who would be interested in portraits of unknown Filipinos and their possessions except, maybe, relatives but the fact that these family heirlooms ended up in antique shops is a good indicator that even descendants has lost interest in them.
This is where an individual like myself comes in—if you have old pictures and documents you don’t want to keep just let me know!