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If pigs could fly (they’d live at Villa Escudero)

Pigs of all shapes and sizes in this pigpen. Photos by GEREMY PINTOLO

I have a different recollection of Villa Escudero from the must-visit successful tourist attraction it is today. As a little girl, my mother would take me to visit the family coconut plantation in Tiaong, Quezon where they had their residence, chapel and museum, when we were invited by the family on special occasions.

Conrado “Ado” Escudero’s family had a collection of everything of value to his parents and their clan, from religious articles to what they picked up from their travels and adventures. But the most significant items were magnificent heirlooms and acquired pieces of centuries-old religious images, Philippine furniture and valuable artifacts.

Ado and my mother both went to Cornell University in New York in the early ’50s and I will always remember how fondly my mom spoke of Ado and their friendship. I liked visiting Villa Escudero, especially when I was old enough to understand and appreciate the value of collecting art, antiques and artifacts.

Many years later, when I would be invited to dance the Rigodon de Honor on numerous occasions, I got to see more of Ado. For sure, in those days, Ado Escudero was a favored must-invite participant in the Rigodon at exclusive social events. His presence indeed always makes quite a difference!

Indeed, a true Rooster! One of a Rooster’s characteristics according to the Chinese calendar sign is that they are dashing — and they know it. They take care of their appearance, remain tidy and wear clothes flattering to their bodies. In any event, no one misses the entrance of a Rooster!

Last month, I visited Villa Escudero again and I was totally amazed at the range of Ado’s entire collection and the latest addition: pigs!

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From fluffy stuffed pigs and ceramic piggy banks, to primitive, heavy ones carved out of logs, to metal ones and those made of resin and plastic to porcelain and crystal. There were hundreds of them at the center of his living room, enclosed in a circular glass case of several sections, each one removable to allow household help to clean each pig regularly.

From the museum-grade cultural treasures to what looked like a bottomless assortment of pigs — what a stark contrast!

On cue, his handy helper brought out his tools to remove a section of the glass enclosure to allow us access to the piggies. Ado probably has the cleanest “pig pen” I have ever seen. “I started a pig collection after a Chinese lady, knowledgeable in feng shui, told me to do so to bring good luck and good feng shui for me and my business,” he told us.

I didn’t understand what better luck Ado needed in his life. He is of the true landed gentry. He’s never known what it’s like not to have or not to be able to do everything he wanted.

“Most of my pigs came from family and friends who gave them to me as gifts when they found out I was into it,” he added. Well, understandably, Ado, born in the Year of the Rooster, would make excellent friends with those born in the Year of the Pig, according to astrologists and geomancers.

Pigs — at least in the Chinese calendar — prefer to live in comfortable surroundings and luxury. Roosters such as Ado, on the other hand, like everything to be in place, neat and orderly.

Pigs also do not seek confrontation and will do everything to keep Roosters happy. They instinctively know to get Roosters to relax, soothing their nervous energy. Pigs can help Roosters learn to enjoy life and find comfort in simple things.

At least that’s what the astrologers say. For the time being, we were enjoying the surroundings of Ado’s hundreds of pigs, which happen to be at the center of his living room. “I am very relaxed and content in my surroundings. From the buzzing life in the city this is my paradise where I can be one with nature,” Ado said. This must be the secret of Ado’s longevity and simplicity: true to the nature of the Rooster when in the company of pigs.

The Rooster is very practical, wants everything in place and tends to be dominant, with a need for control. They like keeping everything around them organized.

This is true for all of Ado’s collections at Villa Escudero. Everything has a place and everything is in place: relleves, retablos, santos of wood and ivory, aparadors, chairs, lamps, lights, pictures, porcelain, crystal — and now the pigs!

Roosters cannot and will not tolerate laziness and this is reflected in the well-manicured and maintained Villa Escudero, which every urban dweller should visit in order to experience the romance and beauty of our culture. The kabukiran and kanayunan we only get to read about in books or see in the movies come alive in Villa Escudero.

That’s the attraction that has kept millions of visitors coming over the years — that and the fresh coconut, waterfall lunch experience, and charming estate.

Roosters are perfectionists. That’s true of Ado, too. Only the best is good enough for him — from sartorial elegance to his demeanor, to the way he exhibits his treasures at home, to how he sincerely and loyally values his friends.

Whether Ado started collecting them because of feng shui, or because they’re are just so darned cute, this collection will make you as happy as a pig in a poke!

 

 

 

 

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Email the author at nikkicoseteng2017@gmail.com or text her at +639974337154.

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