Monday, December 31, 2012

Wee lambs

Wee lambs
Originally uploaded by bleak!
a flock of clay sheep for sale in a "tianguis navideƱo."

Belen 2012

Belen 2012
Originally uploaded by bleak!
A woman making tortillas. A requisite figure in Mexican "nacimiento" tableaux.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Belen 2012

Belen 2012
Originally uploaded by bleak!
Handbuilt clay nativity figures from Mexico.

Mexican "nacimiento" tableaux are composed of multitudes of characters. Aside from the the usual suspects such as the Three Kings and shepherds, "nacimientos" often include figures performing daily tasks and routines. Figurines of fishermen, vendors, laundresses, cooks,  butchers, bakers and even hermits are usually included and depicted.

The inclusion of "average joes" in the nativity illustrates that amidst the hubbub of daily life, miracles still happen; hope and salvation can still be found amongst the commonplace.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Devil in the Nativity

Belen 2012
Originally uploaded by bleak!
It is customary in Mexico to include the figurine of the devil in the nativity scene to illustrate that evil is everywhere. Figures of demons bearing emblems of the seven deadly sin are usually shown tempting the shepherds, the Three Kings  and the townspeople.
Though evil is indeed all around us, its inclusion in the creche also remind us all that good will eventually triumph.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Originally uploaded by bleak!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child
Originally uploaded by bleak!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Belen 2011

Belen 2011
Originally uploaded by bleak!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Belen 2012

Belen 2012
Originally uploaded by bleak!
figuras de barro.


Originally uploaded by bleak!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nino Dormido

Originally uploaded by bleak!
A small, carved folk figure of the sleeping Christ Child from the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Virgen Milagrosa

Virgen Milagrosa
Originally uploaded by bleak!

Flores de Mayo
May 1971
N.S. de la Asuncion
Bulacan, Bulacan

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Miracle

The Miracle

You lingered only for an earthly while
     And left the rest of us
To wonder what in your ethereal style
     Was most miraculous.

For you have vanished through your body's door
       And stolen past your ghost,
Yet strange that we who found you not before
       Now find you who are lost.

1 November 1936

-Angela Manalang Gloria

Sunday, November 18, 2012

N.S. de los Remedios

N.S. de los Remedios
Originally uploaded by bleak!
The charming statue of Virgen de los Remedios of Malate, Manila as it appears in a turn-of-the-century photo.

Enshrined at the Church of Malate in Manila in 1624, the statue is said to have been brought from Andalucia, Spain by Fr. Juan de Guevara.
It measures half a "vara", or about 17 inches high, and old accounts describe it as a "brown Virgin."
The statue must have been altered sometime in the mid 1600s or early 1700s as its face and hands were suddenly described as "white ivory" in later accounts.
Its facial features bear Filipino aesthetics; heavy lidded eyes, full cheeks and a straight pointed nose are all traits and hallmarks of colonial Philippine ivory sculptures. The use of ivory too, is indicative of local origins.
The diminutive statue of the Virgin, together with her shrine, were unfortunately destroyed in WWII.

Today, her temple has been reconstructed and her statue replaced with a larger wooden copy by the famed Manila santero, Maximo Vicente.

Angels in Stone
Galende, 1987

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Old Gumaca Church Interior

Church Interior
Originally uploaded by bleak!
Old Gumaca Church Interior.

Church of San Diego de Alcala
Gumaca, Quezon.

The church interior is done in Neo-Gothic style as can be discerned from its Gothic arches that support a large, central domed ceiling.

The style continues on to the retablos with their spires, pointed arches and geometric decorations.

The retablo mayor is placed behind a Gothic arch that is painted with crenelations.  The retablo mayor sits under a small dome that is accentuated with trompe-loeil panels.
The retablo mayor is composed of three niches: the central niche bears a monumental sculpture of San Diego de Alcala hugging a cross--the church's patron saint--while the the other two niches are occupied by presumably, the apostles St. Peter and Paul. 

The retablos menores too, follow the design of the main retablo albeit in smaller scales. Each niche bears a Franciscan saint, most identifiable of which is that of San Antonio de Padua with the Christ Child whose statue can be seen on the far left side of the picture. 

A common sight in churches back then are the rows of benches placed before the main altar. Often simple in construction and almost always crudely decorated, these benches are reserved for the elite and important figures of the town. The rest of the congregation stand or kneel around the benches during a service.

What can also be seen in the photo are the Semana Santa statues of the Cristo Resucitado and Virgen Alegria, each borne atop their own decorated andas,--a palanquin.

Today, the church has been heavily altered. Gone are the plastered walls with their painted surfaces and Gothic arches; the pulpit and retablos too, have been removed  and replaced with superfluous baroque reredos.

Animal Purgatory

Originally uploaded by bleak!
Poor things.

 There is no self-respecting town/city in Texas without a store that sells taxidermied animals and trophy heads.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"On All Saints' Day"

"On All Saints Day"
Emilio Mar. Antonio
Published in Parnasong Tagalog, an anthology of Philippine poems, 1949.
Translated by Victor Ancheta, 2012.

The jealous sparkle of the star

rs-and-hides in the heaping darkness;
timidly looking at the garish grave
that brightly glitters!
(Oh, proud light, guard of darkness,
should you make sorrow beautiful? )

The lonely grave, ornamented,
who hangs a crown of flowers on the cross?
Cross that warns of sadness,
to whom do flowers give delight?
Would a rotten life
be awakened by whimpers?

The few candles on the grave of oppression,
their rays pale by midnight;
with flickering lights abreast,
the lighted flames glint.
A crestfallen heart, in pain accustomed,
is burdened by the carried phantom of grief!

Oh, Grave heaped with sighs,
of holy language and of soul...
is it saintly to refuse
the offered crown in death?
(Oh, I take it to heart to see on others
a burial so abject as of my beloved father!)

But oh father, on All Saints' Day,
there is an Almighty that sifts and weighs;
the arrogant gold placed on the cadaver,
too heavy to lift up to the skies...
While the wilted flower of grief,
if brought to heaven is weightless!

It is not in an elegant and bedecked grave,
that salvation is attained;
fortunate is the mocked and maltreated earth,
for the glory is up above;
the rays of the star that shimmers,
bring the purest glimmer!

Let others pretend
that their lights are the luster of gold;
(Truly on earth
is pride always cherished, even in grief!
Your guarded candle, bowed and timid,
is a low, resentful light!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Altar 2012

Originally uploaded by bleak!
Todos Los Santos

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

La Mujer Veronica

Originally uploaded by tagapaterosako (RoN)
Pateros, Rizal

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Virgen del Santo Rosario

Virgen del Santo Rosario
Originally uploaded by bleak!
The Virgin of Rosario and the martyrs of Japan. An 1868 engraving by Ysidro Paulino, a Filipino printmaker active in the 19th century.

Saturday, September 29, 2012



When the pigeon walked toward me,
Suddenly his breast burst open:
God was there in the wound
Walking to me!

Nearer he came and nearer,
Pigeon and God together;
At the base of my mortal body
Looking up at me!

Gesturing to me without motion,
Talking to me without words:
“Open. Open. Let me ascend.
Open. Open!”

Then did I will my body to break,
To break, to break, for Door!
And God leapt in and rose
Fire in my realms of bone.

-Jose Garcia Villa

Now on Etsy: Krampus Postcards

Need to gift someone who's been rather naughty this year?
Well, here's your terrifying but lovable, Krampus! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Paco Mortuary Chapel

Paco Mortuary Chapel
Originally uploaded by bleak!
Paco Chapel's old reredo.
The Calvary figures are now in San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, Manila.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Originally uploaded by bleak!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apalit Church

Apalit Church
Originally uploaded by bleak!
Apalit Church's interior at the turn of the century.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

S. Anna

Originally uploaded by bleak!
A continental collage depicting St. Anne and the Child Mary in its original glass and ebonized wooden frame. Probably mid-to- late 1800's.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Theft: N.S. de la Asuncion of Maragondon, Cavite

N.S. de la Asuncion
Originally uploaded by bleak!
Stolen in the 80's, the ivory head and hands of Our Lady of Assumption of Maragondon church in Cavite are still missing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"A Venerated Shrine, or Chapel, in Cavite."

I wonder where this beautiful chapel originally stood.