There’s a story in every piece of furniture, especially antiques, said Bacolod-based collector Ging Cuaycong.
When shopping for antiques, she noted, it’s important to know their history, of course. Having background information on the family that owned it, or the house it came from, is imperative. Did a tragedy occur in the house? Or are the family’s skeletons hidden in that antique closet on display?
For the superstitious shopper, it would be best to heed this advice, if only to make sure the furniture doesn’t bring any “bad vibes” into the home.
Cuaycong knows the history of her collection and the pieces she sells in her home store in Bacolod City.
Named “CasaBlanca,” the store wasn’t named after the city in Morocco or the classic film, although there’s an abundance of classic-looking furniture.
The opening of this big home store is proof that
Bacolod is seeing a boom in property development, and more and more people are building homes or moving into condominiums.
The country’s top property developers have projects in Bacolod.
The business process outsourcing industry is also enjoying a boom.
CasaBlanca has something that could add flair to any casa or home. Vintage items such as Balinese doors, hardwood commodes, and even a functioning gramophone or phonograph can be seen sitting on a sleek new dining table, also made of hardwood. They’re all carefully organized, unlike most other stores of this type, which tend to resemble warehouses.
In a way, Cuaycong made her store feel like an intimate home.
The opening of CasaBlanca two weekends ago was an intimate affair. A few close relatives, collectors and customers were on hand to celebrate the opening at the adjacent CasaBlanca bistro, also operated by Cuaycong.
Cutting the ribbon were friends of the family, entrepreneur/publicist Jojie Dingcong, show-biz celebrity Pops Fernandez, Pacita Cuaycong, the clan matriarch, and Ging Cuaycong and son Adrian, who’s running the bistro.
The store may be new, but Cuaycong has been buying and selling antiques for several years now.
“I’d buy the merchandise from dealers in Manila, Hong Kong and Bali, and some of the old houses here in Bacolod. I usually buy from the families I’m acquainted with and dealers I’ve known for so long, so I know the history of the piece,” she said.
This is what distinguishes her home store from several antique stores in the main commercial district of Bacolod City.
She explained that antique furniture is a thriving business in Bacolod, which has been known for generations for its sugar industry.
“There are many old houses here belonging to the old families of Bacolod,” she said. “The city is a treasure trove of antique furniture.”
Antiques became her passion at a very young age. She was only in her teens when she fell in love with the collection of her aunt, an antique dealer.
After school she worked in her aunt’s store, where she learned the ropes of buying and selling, and doing the research on a particular item by learning a few things about the previous owner and the house it came from.
When she married and started her own family, she began dealing on her own.
“I stored whatever merchandise I had for sale in a warehouse located right on this location, where CasaBlanca now stands,” she said.
“It was just an old warehouse, so I decided to make good use of this property by opening a home store to make the property earn income. So, instead of just keeping the merchandise in an old building, we get to present the furniture in a nice showroom, where people can also stop to dine.”
CasaBlanca is in the outskirts of Bacolod’s commercial section, but it’s conveniently located near the city’s upscale residential areas, whose well-heeled residents largely comprise the store’s market.
Cuaycong and her husband Greg built their house in one of these gated villages, just a five-minute drive from the store. (Because of wide roads, almost every destination in Bacolod seems just a five-minute drive away!)
Of course, her large sprawl home is adorned with antiques. Some are for sale, while a few are her personal favorites, and she’s keeping them. At times, she invites customers to have a peek, and perhaps they might be enticed to purchase something that happens to be in the living room.
Although the architecture is a showcase of modern themes, the antiques give the home a personality that reflects the homemaker’s own. “Antiques will always be in demand, even if more and more people are choosing modern architecture. They give a house a certain soul.”
The Cuaycong residence, home to their brood of five, is an ideal representation of what gracious living should be. It helps that Ging Cuaycong has an indispensable trait: a gracious personality.–CONTRIBUTED