This charming naive "aparador" / cabinet of mainly "golden narra"
wood from the Ilocos region is a remarkable example of folk art.
It has 2 doors with sunburst motifs in relief framed by molded
panels with 2 mock – drawers underneath decorated with incised
floral and foliate decoration (the 2 mock drawers have 2 "boteh"
/ paisley decorations each) again framed by molded panels, the
whole surmounted by a crest of intersecting palm leaves
terminating in C – scrolls carved in relief, with crests on the 2 sides
with incised C – scrolls, the entire piece resting on 4 unusual bun
feet atop striated plinths. When the 2 doors are fully opened, one
sees a false bottom of unfinished but old "narra" wood which,
when lifted, reveals the storage compartment behind the 2 mock
– drawers. It is an interesting, eccentric cabinet.
Apparently, there was an enthusiastic folk wood working tradition
in the Ilocos during the last quarter of the 1800s. This unusual
cabinet is in the same artistic vein and tradition as the more
overblown Ilocano "comodas"/commodes; the single Ilocano
tester beds with their heedlessly naive but ornate headboards
and footboards; as well as the overly expressive, fanciful, and
exaggerated Ilocano versions of the matrimonial Manila "Ah Tay"
or "kalabasa" bed. The artistic temperament of the folk furniture
mirrored the Ilocano: robust, prudent, surefooted, but surprisingly
expressive, jolly, and fun – loving. It is only in recent years that appreciation for these improbable and
unique folk pieces has risen as contemporary taste has found them
chic and stylish; they are now in demand by collectors, antique dealers,
interior designers, tastemakers, and homeowners. Contemporary
Filipino taste — of course influenced by contemporary French taste —
now values these interesting, singular, somewhat comical, off – the –
cuff pieces over conventional Filipino antique furniture for their
uncanny ability to deliver that crucial "Ooomph!!!" quality to
These types of folk furniture are usually found in the smaller old houses
in the outlying towns and villages of the Northern Luzon region. The
farther from the cities and big towns, the better. They are not usually
found in the big old houses in the provincial capitals of Vigan, Ilocos Sur
and Laoag, Ilocos Norte where local interpretations of mainstream
European furniture were preferred by the landed gentry.
-Augusto M R Gonzalez III