Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Villa Escudero and Strange Pre-Historic Plastic Fish

In 2004, we were in the Philippines for three and a half months and our trusty 'Lonely Planet' guide took us to Villa Escudero, two-three hours by bus from Manila, depending on the traffic.

The Villa is in fact the center piece of a working coconut plantation founded in 1872 by the Escudero family - one of whose descendants can still be seen patrolling round the grounds in his motorized wheelchair accompanied by attendants and servants.

Part of the Villa's current income is derived from a tourist resort that has been developed long side it and on the river.

From the front gate you are taken by carabao-drawn cart ...

... to your bungalow ...

... which overlooks the water ...

... which is full of strange pre-historic 'plastic' fish (above) ... and more ordinary koi carp ...

Unexpectedly, the most interesting aspect of the villa is it's museum, a real C19 'cabinet of curiosities' full of historical mementos, old photographs and oddities crammed into dusty old glass cases.

Including, even more surprisingly and unknown to me, examples of one of the pre-colonial written scripts, Babayin, which had been derived from an ancient Kavi script of Java ...

Babayin Script 'Ang Ama Namin' (1593)

Predictably, the use of these scripts was gradually discouraged (or repressed) in the time after 1521.

But were still known and practised at the end of the century, as this example of 'Ang Ama Namin' shows.

Being a total novice, calligraphy-wise, I was and still am primarily reacting to the extraordinarily decorative quality of the script!

I see a feature wall ... better not go there!

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