In the heart of Makati sits a treasure trove of everything artisanal and vintage: Victorian-era bamboo furniture, pressed glassware and cutlery; ottomans of hand-woven fabrics from Turkey and Mexico; handmade jewelry and decorative shell masks; prints of illustrations of Manila during the 1800s.
Best hurry, though, because the Birds of Paradise pop-up shop, which is run by the Assumption Convent San Lorenzo Village High School ’68 Association, Inc. (ACSLV68), is selling its wares only till today, 5 p.m., at the Makati Garden Club on Recoletos Street (Ayala Avenue corner Edsa). This is the second year that the group, headed by Jenny Paradies, has opened a pop-up shop.
Most of Birds of Paradise’s items are sourced overseas. Madlen Faustmann, who’s based in London, frequents auctions and trade shows to find Victorian-era bamboo furniture such as tables, chairs and a hall tree, which is a stand that’s useful for hanging hats, umbrellas or coats.
The group also employs the help of Pinoy craftsmen. Faustmann has colorful fabrics from Mexico and Turkey made into pillows and ottomans here, and also restorative work on the bamboo furniture done locally. The poufs are one of the shop’s bestsellers, as well as Victorian pressed glass bowls, cake stands and flower vases.
Isabel Aspillera, who’s also based in London, brought to the pop-up a collection of prints of illustrations made by an English journalist who got stuck here in the Philippines during the 1800s because of a typhoon. Aspillera says the prints, which depict different scenes in the country, were published in 1857-1858 in Illustrated London News, a weekly magazine.
Aspillera and her husband have been collecting prints for 25 years. “We started buying for ourselves until it got to a point when we had so much,” she says. “We also do annual exhibitions here in Manila, and we invite different collectors.”
Other items for sale are costume jewelry made by Aspillera, decorative shell masks made by Paradies, 1950s stools and English chairs, Indian kaftans, old maps, English demitasse cups and saucers.
Shopping for a cause
The longtime friends—and classmates since grade school and high school—collect and sell these rare vintage finds to help raise funds for the schooling of their 12 college scholars.
“Upon the recommendation of different people—our friends, relatives, nuns that we know, teachers—we chose kids who are very promising,” says Ging Naguiat, “not only academically, but also based on their attitude, if they are community-minded, or are potential leaders.”
The scholarship covers tuition and miscellaneous fees (books, supplies), dormitory fees, transportation costs and meals.
The scholars have their pick of universities. Some are in Assumption College, others in the University of Santo Tomas, Arellano University and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, taking up Accountancy, Journalism, Political Science, Management, Computer Science and Education. Their oldest scholar is taking up Molecular Medicine at St. Luke’s College of Medicine.
Naguiat and other members of ACSLV68 hold monthly meetings with these students to monitor their progress in school. “We also make it a point to always speak with them in English, because we believe that will give them a competitive edge once they start applying for work,” Naguiat says.
While ACSLV68 relies mostly on donations for their scholarships, the pop-up store is one major way that the group can help raise more funds for the students’ expenses.
“Since we’re a group that loves shopping, whenever we travel, we set aside a couple of days for shopping, and we purposely buy these (vintage items) with the scholarship in mind,” says Faustmann.