Buyco Heirloom & Antiques
A storehouse of the rarest finds
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Collectors and aficionados of heirloom pieces and original estate antiques will be delighted to know there’s a repository of these very rare finds at the quiet, yet thriving, San Antonio district of Makati City. The Buyco Heirloom, Antique, Arts & Crafts showroom, strategically located at the intersection of Kamagong and Banuyo streets, is a storehouse like no other.
Browsing through the stacks and sections is like walking through other places and time. It’s walking through a museum of art, only in smaller and denser confines. The road to finally settling down, once again in the metro, has been long and winding; similar to the many travels Gedeon does to procure all the rare pieces on display.
Being the only son to Florentina Velez Lucasan and German Adrian Buyco, Gedeon’s parents took in her cousin Rita since she was a day old and made her a part of the family; thus making a brood of two!
“I learned the trade from my mother, her sisters and my godmother aunt Elena Lucasan Ortaliz who opened a jewelry and novelty shop in Bacolod in 1959; a pioneer in having made available the biggest, almost flawless diamonds, expensive furniture imbedded with semi-precious stone inlays as well as very rare Ching Dynasty porcelain jars to the very affluent Ilonggo sugar barons of Occidental Negros.
“After a little over two decades, it seemed no one else in the family had interest in the antique business as most seemed to focus on jewelries, sugar farming and overseas employment, myself included. So, after a short stint with the employment agency route, I decided to ask my parents to get us into the antique business.
“So in the early ‘80s, we ran Memorabilia Arts & Crafts, an enterprise that occupied half the 3rd level of the Atrium in Makati City, displaying over a thousand pieces of antiques. However, we had to give up that venture, and go back to Bacolod, when my father passed away in 1998.
“Thereafter, we got several contracts for interiors and landscaping in Bacolod and nearby Boracay Island. After 3 years however, we decided to leave Bacolod and reside in Baguio to fulfill long-term contracts with the families of Sari Villar Tan (of Villar Recording Co. and Cross Over) and Johnny T. Fernandez (of Victory Liner); the latter I met through a mutual friend Emily Yanson of Ceres Lines & Vallacar Transit.
“It was very generous of the Villars to offer their 10-bedroom villa in Baguio to re-open our antique shop again. The collection was getting bigger and bigger by the day so we decided to live in our own two-story house across Brent School whilst converting the ground floor into an antique & furniture shop. It wasn’t long before the shop became really big so we got a bigger property along the prestigious Leonardwood Road where we set up another outlet with a very peculiar restaurant wherein clients can buy the chairs they sat upon or the tables where they ate on, plates they used, and the like. Business was good in Baguio but the attraction of the big city was beckoning.
“Thus, after long fruitful years in the Pine City but missing metropolitan Manila, we left Baguio. Back here, yet again, my mom and I decided to put up this showroom,” recounted proprietor Gedeon Buyco on the family odyssey while touring us around the fabulous collections in the two-story 650-sq.m building.
The 310-sq.m showroom on the ground floor houses furniture, antique jars, paintings, lamps, figurines, mirrors, vases, candelabras & candle holders, chests and anything used for interior furnishing. These rare pieces have been procured from all over mainland China and in the Mekong countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. A few made their way from France and Italy.
“Our agents do the sourcing of these rare finds. However, it takes years to procure all these from private individuals; especially the porcelain jars. I travelled abroad every quarter for the past two years to gather these collections. And every other month, to source heirloom pieces from Panay, Negros and Cebu; estates that have been witness to the glory days of the Kahirup Ball. These are few of the places in the archipelago where you’ll find original heirloom and antique pieces of various items.”
At the middle of the stack are fabulous wedding glass domes from France that encapsulate stuffed birds; perpetuating taxidermy. “While birds are used to be preserved therein, these domes are passed on to a family’s maiden who is about to get married. The velvet lining holds mementos from the family’s history.”
The opium beds are one-of-a-kind as well as the camphor aparadors, because it’s usually the chests that you’ll find displayed in other galleries. The latter are ordinary home fixtures in Occidental Negros where the Buyco family hails from.
Estate furniture like an impeccably preserved Balinese armoire form part of the impressive bric-a-brac. Another noteworthy item utilizes a smoothly-planed root of a rare tree to become part of a dresser. These pieces have been sold by heirs when they transfer to smaller residences and/or escape from war.
The main showroom has also accumulated the most extensive collection of blue-and-white Ching Dynasty porcelain jars as well as door panels and multi-colored porcelain jars.
The second floor gallery, on the other hand, displays accent pieces like chairs, dressers, cabinets, carabao jar collections, Chinese screens and heirloom pieces from around the country and abroad. “All of these items are not easy to source. Most of the time, it’s a matter of luck. I can say that I have been lucky to have gotten hold of massive collections of pieces this rare.”
Nepalese masks in eclectic sizes and expressions adorn a partly-hidden section while serving trays, tea sets, birdcages, chandeliers, screen doors and a tall grandfather’s clock take their places at every nook and cranny.
There’s a bronze Buddha with silver inlay and a 150-year-old Chinese desk enjoying their bit of space with antique Ming Dynasty water jars that took two years to collect as a set. And next to it is a century-old family dining table made of Balayong and Tindalo wood.
Of another interest is a Florentine bedroom set and dressing table that’s slightly marred by the original owner when she plucked a gemstone that was embedded on one of the joints. While most of the pieces come from the old world, there are a few contemporary pieces like pots, millinery bags, and frame holders that break the monotony.
The pious might be interested in an ivory collection of religious icons while collectors will be amazed by details such as table clocks and priceless Persian ‘qum’ carpets that’s made from 100 percent silk and sells at half a million bucks each!
If you’ll notice how spic and span the showroom is despite the sizable inventory it holds, it is because the pieces are constantly cleaned with damp cloth and the antiques treated with a special polish from the UK. The floors are mopped daily to prevent dust build-up and Gideon himself brings the delicate jars down before the cleaners help him in the intricate and tedious process of cleaning.
While the showroom had been around for two years now, catering to art patrons and collectors through appointment, this must-see shop will formally open its doors to commerce come Nov. 26th.
The Buyco Heirlooms, Antiques, Arts & Crafts showroom is located at # 9047 Kamagong Road in San Antonio, Makati City. For more information, simply call tel. no. 403-3021.