Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Wondrous Work for a Miraculous Lady

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Before the Restoration Work

Early 2011, I was approached by the Holy Family Chapel coordinators regarding restoring their image of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I have featured it a couple of times before in Flickr noting it's distinct charm. It was a beautiful image unfortunately time has taken its toll on it, instead of seeing lady like fingers you'll see, exposed, the wires which used to support these fingers; paint is peeling off all over (aside from the discoloration due to the elements) and there are holes in some parts of the image. The image was in a bad state that it was a really a good news to hear that at last we are going to do something to fix it and to preserve it.

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The beautiful face of Our Lady, serene with a gentle smile, a fitting depiction of Mary. Even before any repair works, her face is already beautiful. Makes you wonder how it looked like when it was brand new.

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Both hands of Our Lady, both badly needed work

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Another look at the image's hands

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Details of the body of the image

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Upon lugging the image inside the car, I noticed "made in Spain" stickers under the base

Although there is already a go signal to have the image fixed, a part of me is also a bit hesitant given that the result may not do justice to the image. As mentioned above even without restoration works, the image is already beautiful. Thus, finding the right person to do the work is a must. I have a couple of people in mind however the state of the image must really be bad as I was not receiving positive responses from any of them. Sometime in August, I was informed that SSF's image of the Paciencia is ready for pick-up from Francisco Vecin's workshop. Mang Kiko as he is commonly referred to, is supposedly to do some repair works on the image however he later on decided not to touch it given that the image's paint work assumed an antique patina, and now, covering the whole image with oil paint is not really an option. I never considered Mang Kiko before given that I was informed that he has already stopped receiving new works given his old age, however I thought that showing him the image and hoping against hope that he will take on the work is not a bad action either.

At the Vecin Workshop

At his workshop, after the customary greetings and "kamustahan" (I admire Mang Kiko given that he recalls every image his workshop made, he even recalls my dream projects for myself and my parish), Mang Kiko carefully examined the image and provided his recommendations on what should be done. He noticed that the image may have probably been repainted over and over again. Afterwards, he discussed with me the kind of paint job that will be employed for a detallado image although it will not be of the laborious kind, a simpler version of the traditional art of painting over a gold leafed surface and carefully etching the design after the paint dries. He even showed me an antique replica of Spain's famous Cautivo which is a good example of this art form.

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Cautivo with gold leaf details

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Admiring the work executed for this image

Mang Kiko is such a good story teller that time flies when you are with him, given that I have another appointment I had to cut short my visit but before I left, I went around his workshop to look at his current assignments. It's always nice to drop by his place and view countless number of images all over the place.

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Like this beautiful crucifix, I wish I could have something like this to be used in my hometown, San Jose del Monte Bulacan.

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Close-up of the image

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Another image in production

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Estandarte of the Seven Sorrows of Mary

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Image of St. Joseph and of Jesus respectively

At this point, Mang Kiko and I have not yet agreed on the cost for the restoration work and I do understand that he still needs to study the image and the amount of work that will be done to fix the image.

Before and After

On November 27th, coincidence or not (since I did not know that her feast day falls on this date), I went back to Makati to pick up the image. The image was wrapped in brown manila paper and Mang Kiko was slowly taking this off to show me the result of the restoration (It was like a scene in tele-serye's wherein someone who recently underwent plastic surgery will show his or her face to everyone he or she knows for the first time...), every moment was exhilarating. Mang Kiko is not just a good story teller, he is a good showman as well. At last, the image was unwrapped and the transformation was magnificent!

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The image was made more beautiful and her eyes were really captivating

Mang Kiko shared with me musings he made while working on the image, about the dying art of producing images like this in Spain. After which he discussed the work that they did on the image and showed me the pictures he took as part of his file (he is really organized compared to other Santero's in the market). This is how the image used to look like:





And this is how it looks now...

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A new set of metal crowns and rays were made to complement the new look.

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Mang Kiko with the image

The result of Mang Kiko's work is beyond expectation. I am pretty happy with the turn of events, how I eventually ended up working with him and was pretty excited to show the image back at home. The new face of Our Lady is radiant, elegant and mesmerizing. It has now become a standard of Mary's beauty for me.

Another look-around Mang Kiko's workshop

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A very unique and beautiful Resuscitado

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San Jose

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San Jose and other images

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The image at home with SSF's Paciencia at the back

Through the generosity of the sponsors from the Holy Family Chapel and the dedication of Mang Kiko and his crew, the image of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal has been wonderfully restored. The image carries with it a story of luck, of the family that once owned it (won the image from a lottery in Lourdes, later to be donated to the chapel given the child of the original owner changed religion), of opportune time...but in the end, her existence and now, new-found importance in the small chapel of Katarungan Village is a testament that true faith and devotion triumphs in the end.

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The Holy Family Chapel, a community blessed to have an image as beautiful as this

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