Friday, October 9, 2015

232. Santos of La Naval: STA. CATALINA DE SIENA

STA. CATALINA DE SIENA. Antique ivory image
used in the La Naval procession of Our Lady of the Most
Holy Rosary, Sto. Domingo Church, Q. C. Credits: Saga of 
La Naval, Triumph ofa People's Faith, Dominican 
Province of the Philippines, 2007.

St. Catherine of Siena, (b. 1347.d. 29 April 1380), youngest of 25 children, joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and received the stigmata. She encouraged Pope Gregory XI to abandon Avignon for Rome, ending 70 years’ exile of the papacy from the city. Canonized 1461, Declared Doctor of the Church in 1970. Patroness of Fire Prevention. 

About The Image: The image of Sta. Catalina is housed at the Beaterio de Sta. Catalina. At the base of the image is inscribed: Donacion de la M.R.M. / Catalina de la Resurrecion/ Jez/ +13 unio 1853. This means that the image was donated before Mother Catalina died in 1853. When the Japanese destroyed the building on 28 Dec. 1942, the image was evacuated under the leadership of Fr. Francisco Sadaba O.P. of Letran. The air raid sirens threw the bearers in panic, who left the image in the street while they scampered for refuge at the Jesuit religious house in Intramuros. Eventually, everybody reached the University of Santo Tomas campus. The image is dressed in Dominicn’s habit.

Attributes: Crown of roses proffered by Christ, chosen over a crown of gold, heart in hand, rosary, book (referring to her work) and lily, symbol of virginity.

Friday, September 18, 2015


A rarely-seen tableau showing the archangel with Tobias,
  whom he helped in catching a fish. Once home, the angel
prepared a salve from parts of the fish that was
then used to heal Tobias' blind father. This 17 in.
primitive piece was found in a Manila online shop.

Indeed, antique santos can come from the most unexpected places. The advent of the internet has changed the way we shop--antiques, included. Where before, sneaking out to the antique enclave of Manila from my Makati office meant braving jeepney rides and lunch-hour traffic just to check out  new santo arrivals, now, santos are available on demand--thanks to good old ebay, rubylane, or etsy.

A century-old santa of heavy wood, with characteristic
bell-shaped skirt, typical of Bohol santos. The image,
with very sparse carving, except for the very detailed hair,
is polychromed. It was found on the Philippine selling site,, which has since become,

Suddenly, these online shops and auction sites provided a convenient and alternative way to acquiring santos. With just a click, you can be an armchair shopper and check on the antique through pictures provided by the dealer, and read through the descriptions, price points and shipping preferences. Sure there are risks involved in sourcing santos in this manner-- especially with international transactions--but by and large, my online buying experience has generally been pleasant.

This 13 inch santo was found on a Facebook Group that sold
antiques and collectibles. When I first saw it, it was encrusted
with thick grime, but the octagonal base was interesting.
Deep cleaning revealed painted details like stars on the santo's
habit and colors on the base.

Eventually, local selling sites like, started adding "antiques" as part of their product categories, and if one were patient enough to check the items regularly, one could spot a great santo find.

A large and hefty San Pedro, 28 inches high, found on It went unsold after several re-posts, so I
eventually bought it at a discounted price. The santo is
carvedin one piece, saved for the head and hands. 

But what really made santo collecting more exciting was when social media sites became immensely popular. Facebook, for instance, attracted like-minded people who formed groups to share common interests. The sharing eventually progressed into buying and selling, and today, there are perhaps, more than a dozen facebook groups involved in the lively trade.

This looks like an angel fragment from a large San Isidro
de Labrador tableaux, based on the hand position of the
figure who appears like he is manning a plow. The base is a
replacement. It was obtained from a facebook group, and was
shipped all the way from the Visayas to Pampanga!

The santos featured here were all purchased online, from different sites. The deal is based on mutual trust, and I would like to think that the groups of which I am a member are strict in the enforcement of house rules, that mandates inclusion of a description and a price, plus a lot of caveats!

I was drawn to the vibrant color of this very common
preacher saint, a vintage piece that is at once simple,
yet powerfully attractive with its bright hues and tones.
Most of all, it was very affordable! At just 11 inches tall,
it was also cute! It was found being  sold in a facebook group. 

Negotiations and deals are sealed through private messaging and phone calls. Meet-ups and delivery by a courier are the most popular modes of transferring ownership of the item.You would agree that the santos that I have acquired online are a charming lot, with prices no different from antique shops, and in most cases, even cheaper. It takes a discerning eye and an inquisitive mind to spot a santo that's right for you and your budget, and a fast finger to click on the button to type in your final decision--MINE!

One of my favorite online purchase, this heavy folk santo was
emailed to me for consideration, before it was listed online.
It is a beautifully carved piece and has on its original paint.
It stands over 16 inches tall including the base of turned wood.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

230. Santo Stories: VIRGEN DE BALINTAWAK of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente

VIRGEN DE BALINTAWAK of the Philippine Independent Church as it appeared in the early 1900s. The carver is unknown. Source: Sunburst Magazine, 1978.

One of the most unusual religious images ever to emerge from the years of the Philippine revolution is the so-called Virgen de Balintawak. It is an image that was based on a dream that allegedly saved several heroes of the Revolution, and which was recounted by the militant writer, Aurelio Tolentino. It was said that when Bonifacio, wife Gregoria, Jacinto and other katipuneros sought refuge for the night in the house of Tandang Sora in Balintawak, one of them had a dream. It was a vision of a Mother with Western features, curiously attired in a balintawak dress, sinamay blouse and butterfly sleeves, next to his bolo-wielding Child, in red short pants and Katipunero hat, shouting “Kalayaan!” (Liberty!).

 The Mother figure then whispered a warning to the dreamer,”Mag-ingat kayo!”(Be careful!). The shaken katipunero woke up and narrated his strange dream which they took as a serious warning. They cancelled their plan to return to Manila and decided to stay put in Balintawak. Shortly, the group learned that Spanish soldiers had raided the Diario de Manila and found incriminating evidence that led to the discovery of the Katipunan.

Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, the rebel priest of the Catholic Church and a member of the Malolos Congress. Founder of the Iglesia Filipina Indepndiente, which proclaimed its independence from the Spanish hierarchy, in 1902.

To mark this miraculous moment, the first Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), Bishop Gregorio L. Aglipay (b.1860/d.1940), caused an image to be carved following the description of the katipunero’s dream. The Mother and Child image were housed in the old Aglipayan cathedral along Azcarraga St,, (now Recto) around 1905, but which was razed to the ground during the American retaking of Manila in 1945.

The old Aglipayan Cathedral in 1905, where the Virgen de Balintawak was first enshrined. It was burn during the battle of Manila in 1945.

A 1925 novena ,“Pagsisiyam ng Birhen sa Balintawak”, was also printed for the Aglipayan faithful—whose rituals and practices, like the veneration of images, closely copied those of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the obispo, the Mother of Balintawak is a symbol of the Philippines , and the child katipunero represents Filipinos who aspire for liberty. The figures serve as reminders of the great sacrifices reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices of the liberators of our Country and of our sacred and inescapable duty to follow them, also making all possible sacrifices of Rizal, Mabini, Bonifacio, and other heroes, whom Aglipay recognized as teachers, prophets and evangelists. 

Virgen de Balintawak today. There was a time when the PIC stopped dressing the images in Filipiniana costumes, but that has since resumed.

The Virgen de Balintawak is an example of how Filipinos have successfully indigenized the Catholic faith to make it an ownable religion, at a time in our history when Filipinos became an oppressed people of God.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

229. Fat Friar in Ivory: SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA

THE PREACHER SAINT, San Antonio de Padua, was born in Lisbon, Portugal and is venerated today as one of the greatest Franciscan saints.

Saint Anthony of Padua, the great Franciscan thaumaturgist, was often described as short and even chubby. The first biographies of the Saint made some references to his physical stature, suggesting that he was ‘robust’ and that he had a ‘Mediterranean’ complexion. In the 1500s, Girolamo Romanino depicted Anthony as a slightly balding man with a rounded face.

This antique ivory santo of the famous preacher saint vividly captured those descriptions. The chubby-faced saint was obtained from a local Manila shop, and which I found on display while passing by the said antique store. The ensemble was complete, the santo wears its original Franciscan habit, frayed and tattered, but with the gold embroidery intact. He holds a sprig of lilies on one hand and cradles an orb-carrying Nino on the other arm.

I was struck by the quality of both ivory and carving--the face of San Antonio and the Christ Child are wrought beautifully in white ivory, painted with great detail, from the perfectly arched eyebrows right down to the irises of their eyes. Yet, the image also shows hints of folksiness, as gleaned from the way his fingers are rendered, and the awkward stiffness of his stance.

I had not planned on acquiring this image, and for months it lay displayed inside a replacement virina, mounted on its gilded carved base. I was told that it had been reserved, so I had sort of given up on this beautiful santo. A few more months passed before I learned that San Antonio was back on the market, and it was offered to me at a reasonable discount.

In one of his sermons, the good saint wrote "The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so." How lucky I am that this piece--in all its fatness-- has come out of its hiding to shine as one of my prized and favorite ivory santos in my collection..

Monday, August 10, 2015

228. Collecting the Past as a Beacon to the Future: DON LUIS MA. ARANETA.

Condensed from an article by Ernesto E.H Punzalan of the same title,
Originally published in Sunburst Magazine. 1978.

 Luis Ma. Araneta, the genteel and generally acknowledged numero uno of private antique collectors in the Philippines, could very well have the same outlook as the above Italian in amassing his own vast collection. A patrician by birth and manner, Araneta regards his relics as “a part me, my sensitivity to what represents man and art, especially to that which we call Filipino”.

The image of the Sto. Nino was a favorite subject of both Filipino and Chinese and carvers of the 18th century. This ornate Nino is dressed up in an 18th carat gold filigreed costume complimented by a gold corona, boots and sceptre, with a red satin cape intricately trimmed with gold thread borders and fleur de lis designs. The orb is silver with gold trimmings. Done in heavy wood, 18th century.

 The Filipino is a vague shroud behind which hovers the mysticism and snob appeal of antique collecting. Mga lumang bagay-bagay, the almost derogatory Tagalog term for anything old, has been the bone of conetnion and debate among many collectors for 2 decades now. What started as atrickle in the fifties is now a confused fad. Legitimate art enthusiasts are swept aside in the stampede of hoarders, hustlers, investors, unscrupulous dealers and artistic mafiosi.

 Today, no abode of the Filipino nouveau riche can rise without an anonymous painter’s obra from the 18th century or a Sung or Ming vase (usually bought at padded prices) and a plethora of fakes and instant antiques assembled by those creative artists of Rizal and passed off to the flush but unknowing as the real thing.

 Don Luis, as he is fondly called by most acquaintances—or ‘Lui’-- to his friends, enthuses: “”I am glad that the awakening that has made me realize the value of these objets d’art is now a common experience”. His awesome museum is now made possible, a quixotic enthusiasm. He brought to it from the start an in-born artistic talent (he is an architect) and a millionaire’s checkbook.

The Araneta collection has thus become perhaps the most talked about in the country. The ramblings house (palazzo might be a more accurate term for it) in McKinley Road in Forbes Park teems with priceless discoveries—ageless santos in ivory and wood prominently displayed side by side with old Damian Domingo, Amorsolo, Hidalgo, Luna masterpieces as well as the efforts of anonymous painters. Luis Araneta’s antiques has made him humane, he says.

His desire to share his largesse to his countrymen has already led him to donate a large portion of his collection to the San Agustin Church Museum. The “Pagrel Collection”, an acronym which stands for the name of his three children—Patricia, Gregorio and Elvira—is housed at the former refectory of the Augustinian friars in the convento of San Agustin.

It has been dedicated by Luis Ma. Araneta to the memory of his mother, Doña Carmen Zaragoza vd. De Araneta on the occasion of the first centennial of her birth on June 29, 1976. Don Luis himself passed away on Easter Sunday on April 22, 1984.

Additional photos from the PAGREL COLLECTION Catalog. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


SAGRADO CORAZON DE JESUS. An early 20th century sacred Heart of Jesus in wood welcomes visitors at the foyer of an ancestral house located in Sta. Rita, Pampanga.

Pampanga's cultural renaissance is still going on strong years after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a cataclysmic event that almost wiped out the province's material heritage--from historic homes to ancient churches and all their treasured contents. It is good to know that many Kapampangans today have a heightened sense of awareness of the value of their cultural and religious heritage. 

Leading the way is the capital city of San Fernando with its famed heritage district. This area covers the historic core of San Fernando, including Barangay Santo Rosario and parts of Barangays San Jose (Panlumacan), Santa Teresita (Baritan), Lourdes (Teopaco), Del Pilar, Santa Lucia and Santo Niño.

On streets like Consunji and Tiomico, are clustered old family homes of such prominent Fernandino families like the Singians, Lazatins, Santos-Hizon, Dayrits and Ocampos which reflect the grand architecture of our colonial past now gone. These residences are also a veritable treasure trove of devotional images, as seen on this spread.

The original owners may no longer be there, but the houses and their rooms are still cared for, arranged just the way as when family members were still in residence. Beside four poster beds are altar tables bearing delicate ivory images of santos vested in gold-embroidered robes such as this all-ivory San Vicente Ferrer, and a Calvario tableau--still inside its fragile glass virina.

Others--like this old ivory San Jose and the Child Jesus are enshrined in newer, wooden urnas, proudly made in the province.

Bigger processional images tended by old families--like this Sta. Salome from Sta. Magdalena--are also hold special places in Pampanga homes, with their own storage case and wardrobe cabinet. On Holy Week, they are taken out, cleaned and dressed for the traditional Lenten processions.

Another town noted for ts many well-preserved ancestral houses that are just a walk away from each other is Sta. Rita. Locked houses are veritable museums, with household heirlooms and antiques such as this Sagrada Familia, rendered in ivory.

A visit to another house yielded this fabulous tableau of lifesize Semana Santa images, staged year-round in the living room.

A rarely seen wooden bust of  the Blessed Virgin is in storage in another ancestral home, in "house clothes" of blue and pink satin. It rests on a long vestry cabinet together with an assortment of classical santos of wood and ivory.

This San Roque ivory ensemble has been resting in its glass and wood urna, untouched by the passage of time.. An ivory angel and the saint's companion dog share the gothic altar with an Our Lady of Lourdes plastic water bottle.

Still another treasure -- a Child-carrying ivory Virgen del Rosario, albeit  missing a glass eye, is a sight to behold, resplendent in its original, heavily-embroidered vestments.

Right beside it is a more modest wooden crucifix--a staple religious image in every Kapampangan home, showing Jesus wearing a silver loincloth crucified on a cross of heavy wood, its ends capped also with finials of silver, and the base marked by a skull-and-cross "pukpok".

Wonders never cease when one visits old Pampanga homes--you will not only be treated with the trademark hospitality that Kapampangans are known for, but you will also get to expect the unexpected--like getting a rare sneak-peek at some of the most beautiful santo treasures of families, if only for a minute!

Friday, July 17, 2015


 By Eric S. Giron , Pictures by Resty Guevara 

Originally published on SUNBURST Magazine, February 1979 issue 

The Remarkable Story of the Santos Family that has been carving religious statues for three generations and still holds an annual procession for St. Ignatius that began nearly a hundred years ago.

 “From Father to Son, the Chisel is Passed on to Three Generations.”

 Art flourished in the late 19th century in Sta. Cruz, which became the cradle of the first sculptors, painters, silversmiths, engravers, and musicians.

 Sta. Cruz, then a barrio and not yet an arrabal (district) of Manila, ascended in importance as the home of the elite who acquired their wealth through business and industry.

 The entresuelo of the Paterno mansion bounded by Calle noria (P. Paterno today), P. Gomez, Sales and Carriedo rang with the hammers of silversmiths shaping out the finest jewelry under the supervision of Trinidad Paterno. Their jewelry was in demand in Manila and in the provinces.

 No. 12 and 37 on old Dulumbayan St. leading to the Arranque Market were jewelry shops that also manufactured altars and silver-plated carros for saints used in processions.

 Don Florentino Torres, in his “Memorias”(El Debate, October 19, 1924) recalled: “Romualdo Teodoro De Jesus was the best sculptor; the Zamoras had the most distinguished engraving shops; the brothers Torres, Valeriano and Victorio (among the first electricians of Manila) were the most celebrated scenographic painters who specialized in house décor; Maestro Teban taught the rudiments of music, although his surname was not remembered; he was a professor of various musical groups.”

The taller de escultura of the present-day Santos Family at V. Fugoso St. (Zurbaran)

 Sculpture during the16th century Spanish regime was the domain of Chinese craftsmen of Binondo. Antique ivory, silver or polychromed wooden images of Christ, the Virgin and saints show marked Chinoise influence in the eyes and other features. The skill of the Sangleys in church sculpture was mentioned by Bishop Domingo de Salazar in a letter to King Felipe of Spain in 1591.

 But in the 19th century, Filipino sculptors emerged in Sta. Cruz. The first sculptures of saints that were borne or pushed in all the provinces of the archipelago originated from the shops of Sta. Cruz and were famous as majestic figures, while the Virgin, female saints, cherubim and angels were beautiful”, Don Florentino wrote.

 Jose Rizal’s character, Capitan Tiago, in his novel “Noli me Tangere”, owned several images, among them, the Sacred Family of carved ivory, eyes of crystal, long lashes and blonde wavy hair which were neatly executed by the sculptors of Sta. Cruz”.

 Romualdo T. De Jesus, the sculptor mentioned by Torres in his “Memorias “ was an instructor of Rizal in the art. He attended Rizal’s re-interment at the Paco cemetery. Rizal was hastily buried in an unmarked grave outside the cemetery after his execution by Spanish rifles on Campo de Bagumbayan on Dec. 30, 1898. His family and the sculptor’s guild of which he was a member exhumed his remains and secretly buried them inside the cemetery. A cross was placed on his grave with the ineverted initials of his name – R.P.J.—probably to camouflage his true identity from Spanish authorities. The historical photograph of this memorable occasion is preserved by remigio Garcia, owner of Manila Filatefica (a printing firm).

 Up to 1893, the mestizos and natives of Santa Cruz and Binondo were organized into gremios (guilds) governed by a tribunal. The headmen, according to Felipe M. Roxas, who became a mayor of Manila from 1905to 1917 “took leading roles in public affairs and reaped the honors and privileges corresponding to their social status” which they showed off “ in public ceremonies and religious processions”.

Benigno Santos was the founder of a dynasty of sculptors who have left an indelible mark on the religious art of the country.

 One such headman, Benigno Santos, became a cabeza de barangay of San Ignacio in Sta. Cruz, a position which gave him jurisdiction over 50 to 60 families. As a cabeza, Santos acquired property in the area of Manggahan (P. Guevara), Sulukan (Zurbaran) and Anyahan (Mayhaligue). There was no Quezon Boulevard at that time. This area was referred to as bukid because of the thick talahib growth and the swampy portions planted to buyo (betel nut).

 But after the government purchased Santos’ properties at a minimal price based on the real estate tax, they evolved into the campus of the P. Gomez Elementary School and Osmeña Park, a children’s playground that is now the site of the Central Market.

 In the 1890s, Santos built a chapel on the lot now occupied by the P. Gomez school and a tiny schoolhouse where children were taught catechism. A Jesuit priest said mass at the chapel on Sundays and holidays. Santos initiated the celebration of the fiesta in his barangay. A procession was held with the patron saint, Ignatius of Loyola, as the lone reigning figure. The commemoration of the fiesta developed into a lavish yearly tradition.

 For the Sta. Cruz procession, the biggest in Manila in that era, Santos contributed four life-size images which he carved, of San Ignacio, San Pedro, the Panalangin (Christ Kneeling in Prayer in the Garden of Olives) and the awesome Christ with the hands tied to a stone pillar, which is still preserved by a son of Santos.

 Even when he was cabeza of San Ignacio, Santos resided on Calle Salcedo between Carriedo and Azcarraga in the heart of Sta. Cruz. Two doors were occupied by his taller de escultura where religious images were turned out of batikuling, a fine-grained white and malleable wood favored by sculptors, and carrozas gilded with ornate silver were manufactured.

 Santos learned the art of woodcarving from a Spaniard named Flores who carved the Tercera Caida or Third Fall of Christ for Sta. Cruz Church. There were five figures in the group, including the fallen Christ, Simon of Cyrene who helped him up, and Roman soldiers. The sculpture went up in flames when the church was burned during World War 2.

 For Quiapo Church, Santos executed The Death of St. Joseph, a sculpture that is missing today. He had the generous habit of making altars and images and donating them for free to churches in Bulacan and other provinces.

 The Santos family moved over to the house owned by Enrique Zobel on Calle Sales close to the laboratory of Botica Sta. Cruz and the residence of the eminent Dr. Ricardo Papa when Calle Salcedo and Calle Dulumbayan forking from it were expropriated by the government . The two streets were aligned to make the southern portion of Avenida Rizal. Calle Cervantes from Azcarraga to Sangleyes (Blumentritt) formed the northern extension of the new avenue. The jewelry shops and the talleres de esculturas on Dulumbayan transferred to Calle Platerias (meaning “silversmith shops”).

SANTIAGO SANTOS, the son of Benigno Santos, became a carver just like his father before him.

 Santos had ten children. He was married thrice. Santos’ sixth son (by his third wife) took to woodcarving at the age of fifteen. Santiago was schooled at San Beda College house at the Lady of Montserrat abbey on Balmes and Arlegui, the original building which is used today as a public high school.

 Santiago learned the basics of sculpture from his father. His knowledge of making designs for his work was self-learned. Santiago enrolled at the San Beda School of Fine Arts with the intention of professionalizing his craft. However, circumstances forced him to give up the course.

 When the Jones Bridge was constructed by architect Juan Arellano to replace the Puente de España wrecked by the typhoon in 1918, Santiago was connected with the firm of Vidal Tampingco and Martinez, and was contracted to make four statues at the north and south approaches. Vidal was the son of Isabelo Tampingco who made the sculptural murals of san Ignacio Church and the Archbishop’s Palace in Intramuros. He was a partner of Felix Roxas, the architect of both edifices. Additional murals were made by Graciano Nepomuceno. All were destroyed when Intramuros was savked during World War 2.

 Of the four pieces of magnificent pieces of sculpture, only one has been preserved. It is the symbolic figure of a woman as Filipinas, cradling a son in her arms, which now stands on Rizal Park near the monument of Jose Rizal.

 Aside from Romualdo T. De Jesus who lived on Oroquieta, Sta. Cruz, the contemporary sculptors whom Santos recalls were the late Maximo Vicente who had his shop on R. Hidalgo, near the footbridge crossing the estero; Cayetano and Isabelo Tampinco, who had their taller on the small side street in Quiapo now known as R. Hidalgo Extension; Irineo Cristobal on Echague; and Eulogio Garcia, whose shop fronted Quiapo Church.

 After a five-year stay at Arlegui, Santiago went to Cebu and opened a sculpturing shop on Calle Norteamericano (the name has changed since then) the only shop of its kind in Cebu then.

 In 1929, Santiago’s father became gravely ill. At his father’s bed, his sister Bonifacia whispered that the prodigal son, Ignacio, had returned. But Benigno Santos was too ill to hear anything and he died without communicating with his son.

 Of his father’s collection, Santiago said that the few that were left including small ivory images, were raffled off among his brothers and sisters. His youngest brother, Eustaquio, won the most significant work: Christ tied to the stone pillar by the Roman soldiers. The soldiers were burned during the war and only the Christ remains.

 Santiago left Home because his father scolded him for not finishing a piece of sculpture. Santiago said he was still making the design of the image when his irascible father flared up and hurled a piece of wood at him. Not knowing where to go, he visited a friend, Andres, the only son of Manuel and Pilar Benitez, at Arlegui. When he revealed he had left home, Andres’mother asked him to stay with them since she only had one child.

 Santiago’s sister, Mercedes, brought him unfinished pieces of woodcarving from his father’s shop which he worked on. His father knew of the arrangement but never spoke to him although Santiago knew the elder Santos once watched him as he carved on wood in Antipolo. There were reservations between father and son.

 In 1930, Santiago went into partnership with Pascual Herrera (his compadre who was in the photograph of Rizal’s grave at Paco Cemetery). They bought a deteriorating Chinese tienda on the corner of Zurbaran and P. Guevara and built in its place a small woodcarving shop in 1937. The Santos-Herrera shop prospered. Herrera died after the war in 1945.

 During his prime as a sculptor, Santiago made a carro shaped like a vessel for the Nuestra Señora de La Naval housed the University of santo Tomas Chapel of the Dominicans, now at Santo Domingo in Quezon City, and the carro of Tondo’s Santo Niño. These silver-plated works were disposed off at a bargain price of Php6,500 and Php7,000 respectively. He also produced a carro for the Santuario de San Juan at Blumentritt and for a chapel in Bacolod City, he made the Pieta. To Iloilo, he sent sculptures of saints to the De la Ramas, Guanzons and Villanuevas.

 Santiago’s wife, Margarita, died in 1955, shortly after completing their Silver Wedding Anniversary which was attended by Archbishop Rufino J. Santos. The children she left him were Alfredo (Ding, married to Consolacion Jorge), Caridad (Mrs. Alberto Anzures) and Manuel (married to Pacita de Vera). Santiago has two other children, Eriberto and Rosario.

 Santiago still resides in Zurbaran. He has close-cropped gray hair but he is still hale. Ocassionally, he carves ivory with a chisel but avoids wielding the sledge hammer at the age of 74.

 Santiago has turned over the chisel to his son Alfredo, The Santos family has an open offer to San Ignacio residents that they will carve any saint’s image of their choice for free provided they clothe the image and send for its participation in the procession during the annual fiesta. On Ding falls the burden of carrying out this vow.

 To date, there are 11 images paraded around during the barangay fiesta, all carved by the Santos family.Not even Quiapo, which has the most lavish procession during its January 9 fiesta, can top the number of images of San Ignacio. The San Ignacio procession, attended by the residents and brass bands, penetrates even the narrowest byways of the area. It has been held consistently ever since Cabezang Santos instituted it in the 1890s, except during the Japanese Occupation when times were hard and Filipinos were suffering.

 On an ordinary day, Ding Santos sits in a small shop where his father used to sit in Zurbaran, which has been renamed Valeriano Fugoso, after a former mayor of Manila. The area has metamorphosed from a grassy and swampy patch into a bustling commercial district where motor vehicles, tricycles rub fenders with carretelas and the multitude milling about all day.

 Ding creates out of whimsy cute Santo Niños, lovely Virgins, bleeding Sacred Hearts and delicate faces and hands out of ivory. His brother Manuel sprays and paints the finished images, attaches the crowns of silver and gold plating and garbs them in the rich velvet costumes embroidered with gold thread.

 Batikuling has become scarce. He supply from Laguna has run out and that of Mindoro is not always dependable. But Ding carries in in the tradition of his grandfather, his father and the Santa Cruz sculptors of yore.