Provenance: Provenance: Doña Petrona Siojo de Buencamino; Buencamino–Siojo heirs; an old antique collector in San Miguel de Mayumo town, Bulacan; Distinguished Lady Collector.


Acrisply–carved guilloche gallery (“Olympic” in Filipino antique circles jargon) with small urns punctuating the front corners serves as the crest of this cabinet in the late neoclassical style. At the center of the gallery is an oval cartouche delicately decorated on its sides with inlay of bone triangles supported by line inlay of carabao bone and kamagong wood surrounding the monogram “PSB”/“PBS” (depending on the viewer). The intertwined initials “PSB”/“PBS” refer to Dona Petrona Siojo de Buencamino, the ür–ancestress (or primary ancestress) of the Buencamino clan of San Miguel de Mayumo town, Bulacan province. The Buencamino Aparador Pinnacle of Baliuag Artistry The top of the main section of the cabinet is a concave molding decorated at the top with a repetitive pattern of wings rendered with diamond–shaped bone inlay and below with a succession of lozenges in bone. Below the concave molding are the two doors that have a running pattern of stylized leaves composed of diamond–shaped and line bone inlay on their frames which, in turn, enclose raised panels with line inlay of bone and kamagong forming vertical neoclassical panels, punctuated by floral bouquets artfully rendered with flower bud, delicate leaf, lozenge, and line forms at the exterior corners. There is a cartouche of solid silver (80%) for the keyhole on the left door. Inside, there are four levels of original shelving, atypical from the usual arrangement of two shelves with a center level of two drawers in the interior common to most Filipino cabinets produced from 1825–1850. Both sides of the cabinet also have the same running pattern of stylized leaves composed of diamond–shaped and line bone inlay on the frames which, in turn, enclose line inlay of bone and kamagong forming vertical neoclassical panels punctuated by the same floral bouquets of flower bud, delicate leaf, lozenge, and line forms at the exterior corners. Four vertical panels of wood with molded sides form the back of the cabinet. Below the doors is the base of the cabinet topped with a superimposed molding with a running pattern of stylized leaves in bone. There are two drawers delineated with line inlay of bone and kamagong forming horizontal neoclassical panels embellished with swags of stylized leaves and flowers composed of lozenge, delicate leaf, and line forms. There are two cartouches of solid silver (80%) for keyholes. Between the drawers is a small panel decorated with a vertical double line of the running pattern of stylized leaves. Below the drawers is a concave molding in the reverse position of the one at the top of the cabinet, the top decorated with the running pattern of stylized leaves and below with a succession of lozenges in bone. Underneath is an apron supported by four exquisite ogee feet with details of inward–curving C–scrolls. The apron and the four ogee feet were also decorated with inlay of floral sprays composed mainly of flower bud and line forms by the conscientious craftsmen. The impressive result of all the ornamentation is that, despite the enormous amount of bone inlay applied, the cabinet still retains the neoclassical attributes of order, balance, and restraint. It is not overdone, to say the least. Certain sections of the bone inlay --- the floral sprays on the doors and the swags on the bottom drawers --- are strongly reminiscent of the carabao bone and kamagong wood inlay of the magnificent pair of Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija Sheraton–style “mesa altar” tables (currently in the “Casa Manila” house museum – Intramuros, Manila and the “Museo De La Salle” – Dasmariñas, Cavite collections), also of Buencamino provenance, leading scholars and researchers to speculate on the artistic/stylistic linkages between the contemporaneous Baliuag, Bulacan and Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija workshops, both of which produced late neoclassical–style furniture with strong American Federal influences from the early 1800s onwards. This supremely beautiful cabinet was praised by legendary antique dealers Ramon Nazareth Villegas (“Boy”) and Osmundo Esguerra (“Omeng”) on separate visits to Distinguished Lady Collector’s home upon its serendipitous acquisition five years ago in 2015. “One can have all the money these days, but it is very difficult to acquire a great piece like this” both agreed. Esguerra, the country’s premiere expert on rare woods and antique furniture construction, rhapsodized over the mature red narra wood (“comparable to the best Chinese woods --- huang–huali, zitan, jichimu,” he claimed), the accuracy of the Chinese–style construction, the impressive execution of the guilloche (“Olympic”) panels, and the flawlessness of the bone inlay. “All very hard to do!” he declared. Villegas, the country’s top authority on Filipino material culture, coolly admired the integrity of the cabinet, its elegant proportions, painstaking construction, the neoclassical restraint of the bone inlay, and its remarkable state of conservation. He was impressed by the remarkable suitability of all its elements. The writer witnessed the separate evaluations of the cabinet by the two experts by the gracious invitation of Distinguished Lady Collector. It was the writer, a lifelong student of Filipino history, who discovered the identity of the original owner through the intertwined initials “PSB”/“PBS.” When told by Distinguished Lady Collector that the cabinet had originally come from San Miguel de Mayumo town in Bulacan, and that it had been purchased by the seller, an old antique collector, from a Buencamino descendant many years ago, the writer mentally went through a list of 1800s Buencamino forebears and theorized that “PSB”/“PBS” must have referred to Dona Petrona Siojo de Buencamino, the mother of the revolutionary figure Don Felipe Buencamino y Siojo (Sr). That theory, added to the age, make, and style of the cabinet, along with the 1848 birth year of her son Felipe, constituted a perfect fit. Ramon Villegas and Distinguished Lady Collector were duly impressed. This cabinet is one of the highest points of the Baliuag style of furniture. This Buencamino bone–inlaid aparador ranks equally with the best antique Filipino cabinets that have appeared at the principal auctions of the Leon Gallery in recent years: the tall Fabella kamagong aparador; the Double–Headed Eagle kamagong aparador (The Gilded Age exhibition); the Antonio Martino Baliuag bone–inlaid tindalo aparador; the Vigan kamagong aparador; the Henson–Paras bone–inlaid aparador; and the Arnedo bone–inlaid aparador. The Siojo and Buencamino families are 2 of the older “hacendero” clans of San Miguel de Mayumo town in Bulacan, populated by many affluent landed families in the 1800s like the de Leon, Mendiola, Mossessgeld, Ponce, Revilla, Santos–Viola, Sempio, Tecson, Viola, et al. The original surname “Magalingdaan” was changed to the Spanish “Buencamino” by the Claveria decree of 21 November 1849. Don Victor Buencamino married Dona Petrona Siojo in the 1840s and had 11 children: Felipe, Justo, Narcisa, Potenciana, et al, all surnamed Buencamino y Siojo. One of them was the revolutionary figure Don Felipe Buencamino Sr, known as “Ipe,” (23 August 1848 – 06 February 1929) who led a most active, colorful, and “controversial” life. At the young age of eleven, he was sent from his hometown of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan to Manila by his well–meaning parents for his further education. In Manila, he finished the equivalent of high school in those days. An intelligent and well–off young man, he obtained his “Bachiller de Artes” at the Universidad de Santo Tomas. Inexplicably enough, he dropped out of university in 1868 and went to work as a clerk. As if foreshadowing his adulthood, he was imprisoned for openly expressing his opinion regarding a controversial issue in the Spanish colonial government. He was released four months later by order of Governor–General Carlos Maria de la Torre, the most liberal of all viceroys sent to Manila. Buencamino finished his law degree in 1884 at the Universidad de Santo Tomas and subsequently worked at the “Real Audiencia.” He was appointed Fiscal and then as Interim Judge of Tayabas province in 1886 and of Batanes province in 1888. When the Filipino Revolution began on 23 August 1896, Buencamino remained loyal to the Spaniards. Governor– General Ramon Blanco appointed him Lieutenant. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel. A brave man, he fought in the battles of Kamansi and Mount Arayat in Pampanga. Governor–General Fernando Primo de Rivera awarded him the Bronze Cross on 16 October 1897. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commander of an 800– strong volunteer corps. He fought in the battles of San Antonio Abad, Zapote bridge, and Muntinlupa. After the Pact of Biak–na–Bato on 15 December 1897, Buencamino finally decided to join the Filipino revolutionaries. Despite his best efforts, he was suspected of being a spy and imprisoned at the tower of the palatial Ossorio residence in Cavite Puerto town, guarded by General Tomas Mascardo. He was released and, improbably enough, was able to attend the 12 June 1898 Declaration of Independence ceremonies in Kawit, Cavite. He became a member of the Malolos Congress of 15 September 1898 and one of the 19 framers of the Malolos Constitution along with Don Mariano Abella, Don Jose Albert, Don Jose Alejandrino, Don Gregorio Araneta y Soriano, Don Alberto Barretto, Don Higinio Benitez, Don Felipe Gonzalez– Calderon y Roca, Don Arsenio Cruz, Don Jose Maria de la Vina, Don Tomas del Rosario, Don Dr Joaquin Gonzalez y Lopez (a Spanish mestizo “ilustrado”/pioneering Europe–educated medical doctor/ophthalmologist, Dr. Gonzalez’s heiress wife Doña Florencia Sioco was a relative of Buencamino’s first wife Doña Juana Arnedo, Dr. Gonzalez was also a neighbor of Buencamino’s father–in–law/granduncle Capitan Joaquin Arnedo in barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga), Don Antonio Luna y Novicio, Don Jose Luna y Novicio, Don Hipolito Magsalin, Don Juan Manday, Don Pablo Ocampo, Don Basilio Teodoro, and Don Aguedo Velarde. During that same time, General Aguinaldo appointed Buencamino “Secretario de Fomento”/ Secretary of Development. Eleven days later on 26 September 1898, General Aguinaldo appointed Buencamino as Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is written that General Antonio Luna had an altercation with Don Felipe Buencamino on 22 May 1899, the notoriously irascible general having remarked contemptuously on the alleged cowardice of Buencamino’s eldest son Don Joaquin Buencamino y Arnedo, serving with the Revolutionary Army, who was actually killed in action at the Battle of San Fernando, Pampanga and logically a war hero. That episode supposedly led to Buencamino’s hatred of General Luna, culminating in another confrontation two weeks later in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija on 05 June 1899 and General Luna’s subsequent assassination along with his aide Col Francisco Roman that same day. When the Filipino–American War broke out on 04 February 1899, Buencamino was appointed Director of the Military Tribunal with the rank of Colonel. Increasingly disillusioned by the successive defeats of the Filipino forces, he resigned in June 1899. Don Felipe Buencamino was captured by the Americans on 17 November 1899, imprisoned at the Ayuntamiento building in Intramuros, and released 5 months later on 16 April 1900. After his release, and visibly impressed by the Americans, he founded the Federal Party (“Partido Federal”) which sought statehood for Las Islas Filipinas. In 1902, he became one of the founders of the Philippine Independent Church (the Aglipayan church). Witnessing American military prowess, bureaucratic organization and efficiency, development and progress, along with impressive funding as opposed to a disappointing and increasing Spanish decline, he became extremely pro– American in his views. Buencamino was also a Grand Master Freemason who was embroiled in a controversy in 1912 when he preferred the new American lodge “All–American Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands” to the old Filipino lodge “Gran Logia Regional de Filipinas” established under the Spanish lodge “Grande Oriente Espanol,” believing as much that “everything in Filipinas is American.” Official Filipino history is not kind to Don Felipe Buencamino y Siojo. But if one studies his incredibly active “controversial life” with objectivity, one sees his life’s events unfolding logically and comprehensibly, from birth to youth to adulthood to old age, the successive episodes sensible consequences of previous actuations, and leads one to understand that Buencamino could not have reacted any differently to the various stimuli of his times any more than the Internet– and cellphone–obsessed techie that is Juan de la Cruz today. Don Felipe Buencamino y Siojo first married his Arnedo aunt Doña Juana Arnedo (known as “Juanita”) of barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga, daughter of his granduncle, the famous Capitan Joaquin Arnedo and his first wife Doña Victoria de Arnedo (the paternal grandmother of Don Felipe was an elder sister of Capitan Joaquin Arnedo) in 1870. Felipe and Juana had 5 children: Maria (married US Col Richard Pick), Soledad (married Masbate Rep D Enrique Zurbito), Victoria (married US Col Edwin Andrews), Joaquin (served in the Filipino Revolutionary Army and was killed), and Asuncion (b. 1882, married Atty Marcelino Lontok in 1906). They stayed in a comfortable villa of 2 hectares filled with fruit trees in barrio Capalangan, Apalit, Pampanga, a wedding gift of the bride’s father Capitan Joaquin Arnedo, who lived in adjacent barrio Sulipan in his famous villa called “La Sulipena.” Doña Juana Arnedo de Buencamino passed away young in July 1883. She was pregnant with her sixth child, accidentally slipped into a ditch in the garden, and bled to death, to the shock and grief of the entire Arnedo clan. Don Felipe Buencamino married a second time to the Tondo heiress Doña Guadalupe Salazar y Abreu (known as “Neneng”), elder daughter of Tondo’s richest Chinese–Filipina businesswoman Doña Saturnina Salazar (known as “Dona Ninay Supot” because of her wide–ranging financing activities) and Don Flaviano Abreu. Felipe and Guadalupe had 2 sons: Felipe II (married Maria Romero y Tinio) and Victor (married Dolores Arguelles y Reyes). They lived in the large and opulent Abreu–Salazar residence on Calle Sagunto (later Calle Santo Cristo) in Tondo. Like his first wife Juana, Guadalupe died young and her younger sister Doña Adelaida Abreu y Salazar de Hollmann (known as “Adela”) helped raise her elder sister’s 2 sons. Don Felipe Buencamino y Siojo (Sr) passed away on 06 February 1929 at 80 years as a distinguished attorney during the later years of the American colonial period.