During the 1970s and ’80s, I would go to Pasig for one reason or another, to visit a friend perhaps or hear Mass at the historic cathedral which had always fascinated me. I considered it a crown jewel of the town (now a city).
Mabini Street leading to the cathedral I found interesting because it had an Old World look. It was a quiet neighborhood, the houses standing side by side. There was, I think, only one landmark, the Panaderia Dimas-lang, circa 1919, owned by the Lozadas.
Soon “progress” descended upon Pasig, as it became part of bustling Metro Manila, with high-rise buildings, rising real estate prices, malls and condominiums, and all the amenities of urban development.
Mabini Street became unrecognizable, totally commercial, with its stores, fast-food outlets and flea markets (tiangge). The only reminder of the past was the bakery; the second level was the residence of the family, and the third floor is an artist’s studio.
The house is maintained by Manolo Lozada, younger brother of the late great violinist Carmencita Lozada, who should have been a National Artist a long time ago. A third sibling, Teresita, is based in the United States.
So the first floor is all commerce, with the innovative bakery products selling briskly as the orders come in. But as you ascend the stairway, you enter a different world. It is filled with paintings by Lozada himself (he paints, writes and sings), antiques, ornate furniture and wood carvings, caromandels (dividers), vintage chests, icons, santó and other works of religious art.
There are Madonnas and Child, Santo Niño (Holy Infant Jesus), crucifixes made of ivory, angels and saints.
“There are Holy Families all around you,” says Manolo’s wife, Payapa, who is an accomplished pianist. The Lozadas are expecting their first grandchild, a girl.
“It’s a gathering of things,” as Lozada puts it, “not collected consciously over a period of years. Some are from my parents, and some bought from my travels.”
The works come from other parts of the country, like Vigan and Nueva Vizcaya, Shanghai and Beijing, Tibet, India and Indonesia.
There is a Steinway piano inherited from the Lozadas’ mother; a cabinet from an antique dealer here believed to be 200 years old; vintage Puyat furniture dating back to the 1920s; a hand-carved cabinet from Vigan; and a dining table from Shanghai with wood carvings from India underneath.
The house itself is made of narra, molave, dao and hardwood purchased by the Lozadas’ father when he was traveling in a truck used for business purposes.
“This is an aggregate of many cultures,” says Lozada.
Nude painting session
The third floor is an atelier, filled from top to bottom with the many paintings Lozada has done through the years. When we visited, a nude painting session was going on. The model was a well-formed, slender young man, standing on a pedestal with arms crossed. He was relaxed, unmoving.
“Sometimes we do nude sketching and painting sessions here,” says Lozada. “We explain to those who may not understand that there’s no malice involved, it’s art, all professional.”
Another piano stands guard in the entrance to this level, with memorabilia of Carmencita Lozada that is not found in the Library named after her at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila.
“We like old things,” concludes Lozada. “Dito kami namulat, our consciousness is here.”
Three generations of Lozadas have lived in this house, with a fourth-generation baby on the way.