Friday, November 05, 2004

Gifts at an early 20th-century wedding

Gifts at an early 20th-century wedding

Updated 06:36am (Mla time) Nov 06, 2004
By Ambeth Ocampo
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the November 5, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

AFTER MY friend Renan Prado, chairman of the Department of European Languages at the Ateneo de Manila University, published a translation of Montero y Vidal's "Cuentos Filipinos" (1883) recently, I assumed that he would take a break. To my surprise, he showed me another manuscript recently translated from the original Spanish: the autobiography of Consolacion Singian de Miranda Viuda de Torres.

It is a fascinating peek into social life in pre-war Pampanga province. Most people will not be interested by upper-crust life, but the four pages that struck me contained the partial list of gifts she received during her wedding in April 1912. Her husband Jose Torres Vergara gave her a set of diamonds, the entire trousseau in white, a pink gown for after the wedding, a beautiful closet with beveled mirror, a grand matrimonial bed and a pair of big white pillows.

One wonders how life would be simpler with a wedding registry. Reading the list made me ask what you did with so many coffee sets and Vienna chairs. Silver and crystal seemed to be the gifts of choice. The partial list of guests and the gifts they gave would make an engaging socio-historical study. For what it is worth, I list them down here:

"Honorable D. Florentino Torres, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a complete set of black Vienna chairs with a marble table, a sofa and four chairs; Sabina Vergara de Torres, an elegant silver coin purse for ladies; Alejandra, Pilar and Rosita de Torres, two beautiful images, one of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the other of the Sacred Heart of Mary in an exquisitely and elegantly decorated glass case; Manuel Torres, a dozen black Vienna chairs; Luis Torres, a dining table of narra and a refrigerator; Soledad Gomez de Torres, a dozen embroidered linen handkerchiefs and a pair of waste baskets."

There were many judges because her father-in-law was Supreme Court Justice Florentino Torres. Also many doctors because of her brother, Dr. Gregorio Singian.

The list continues: "Joaquin Singian, a magnificently elegant silver pitcher with a silver glass; Francisco Singian, a set of a beautiful washstand in green crystal; Encarnacion Singian de Lazatin, a dozen elegant and capricious oxidized tableware in a beautiful case; Gliceria Avelino Rosario, a lovely dish of fine plaster of Paris, an embroidered silk bedcover and a pair of pillows all in pink; Honorable Victorino Mapa, justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a big and beautiful silver set of cruets, very capricious; Manuel Araullo, judge of Manila, a set of elegant lacquered platters; Simplicio del Rosario, judge of Manila, a silk cloth from China; Julio Llorente, judge of the Fourth District of Pampanga, a pair of elegant flowerpots on pedestals like the flowerpots; M. Abreu, judge of Manila, a big candy tray of silver and crystal; Dr. Francisco Liongson, governor of Pampanga, a pair of beautiful flowerpots on pedestals like the flowerpots in green; Dr. [T. H.] Pardo de Tavera, a big silver coffee service; Dr. Alemani and family, a silver sugar tray with its case;

"Dr. Ariston Bautista, a beautiful tray of very fine plaster of Paris; Dr. Miciano, two pairs of silver napkin holders, Mariano Limjap Sr., a set of very fine European crystals; Carmen Ayala de Rojas, a dozen beautiful and elegant silver tableware; Señora Viuda de Nacpil and children, an elegant tie clip of pearls and diamonds; Ramona Valenzuela de Goyena, six European chairs for dining; Ana Longos viuda de Zamora, a beautiful complete writing set in metal; Pacita Longos, a beautiful and elegant ivory fan with sequins; Carlos Cuyugan, a beautiful and elegant silver coffee service; Manuel Cuyugan, a pair of paintings of European scenes.

"Maximo Paterno, a capricious table centerpiece in silver and crystal; Alfonso Tiaoqui, a modern American nickel-plated coffee service with a spout; Victorino Torres, a beautiful table clock; Tristo Goyena, an elegant silver tea service; Antonio Brias, an elegant silver set of cruets; Antonio Constantino, a dozen elegant silver tableware; Antonio Mapa, a precious silver butter dish tray; Joaquin Longos, a very fine Japanese tea service; Faustino Lichauco, a capricious silver card holder case; Crisanto Lichauco, an elegant silver tea service; Gregorio Valenzuela, a beautiful silver butter dish tray;

"Generoso Roño, a precious crystal decanter; Benito Legarda Jr., a precious set of crystal tobacco container engraved with silver borders; Felipe Buencamino, a nickel plated coffee service in modern American style; Sofia Reyes de Veyra, a capricious set of dessert tray in silver; Carmen Zaragoza de Araneta, a toilet tray in painted wood; Tula Pardo de Tavera, a set of salt shakers with teaspoons; Vicente Gana, a complete set of very fine Japanese tea service; Pio Trinidad, a pair of beautiful Japanese flowerpots; Francisco Revilla, an elegant Russian coffee service; Mariano Limjap Jr., an elegant wash basin set of fine plaster of Paris in green; Manuel Iriarte, a set of silver dishes for sugar and milk; Manuel Zamora, an artistic silver flowerpot; Honorio Ventura, an elegant case containing silver sets for ladies; Godofredo Rodriguez, a silver toothpick holder; Ignacio Villamor, fiscal general, a pocket watch and a table clock."

All these must have ended up in a bodega or recycled during weddings, birthdays and Christmas. With all the stuff, the newlyweds could open a store.


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