Sunday, September 14, 2008

Collecciones (Collectors, Collectibles, and Collecting Instincts)

My daughter collects abandoned kittens, wounded birds, butterflies with broken wings and such. She feeds and nurses them till they get well or die. Once, she attempted to augment her collection by retrieving a chick named Brutus from the mouth of a neighbor's dog named Bernie by forcing Bernie's jaws open. If Brutus as much as peeped -- which is unreasonable to expect as she was by then missing her entire head -- my daughter would have insisted we take her to the vet's, where we were already notorious for bringing in the only unpedigreed menagerie of pets for treatment. By the way, you should have seen how the manhandled dog ran away -- his tail between his legs -- crying "ralph, ralph, ralph," which happened to be the name of his owner. Poor Bernie, he never knew what hit him.

My office friend Arthur collected yellow green jokes, ostensibly to burnish his lackluster lectures on business planning and entrepreneurship. I asked him to quit it because he often forgot the punch lines anyway. He doggedly kept on collecting and mis-delivering them because that -- his forgetting the clinchers -- made his audience laugh, anyway. Art suddenly died a few years ago and my favorite image of him is still where he scratches his head and smiles sheepishly and boyishly, after botching yet another otherwise perfect little joke.

A former boss handed down to me his breathtaking (his adjective, not mine) stamp collection, which included first-issue stamps, Olympics stamps from 1950 backwards, Princess Diana stamps, stamps almost as big as a fourth sheet of paper, and stamps of unstamply shapes -- circles, ovals, triangles and hexagons. He expected me to wax ecstatic at the small turnover ceremonies we had just before he left for abroad. I managed to coo my feigned delight and I guess I did myself proud for he smiled in a very self-satisfied way. After the collection languished for years in my possession, I tried to pass it on to my eldest son who tried in turn to push it underhandedly to the brother next to him. In time, I gave the stamps away, a little at a time, to another friend who knew how to spell and pronounce "philately" correctly.

I am not so quirky I don't want to be a collector all because every other person I know is into collecting. On the contrary, I like the idea of being fixated on an object rather than a person. After all, we keep losing people when they migrate or die or stop loving us. And while they are still around, people complain we over- under- or mishandle them. Inanimate objects -- blessthem -- stay on and on (unless you break or misplace them and then it's all your fault) and are faultlessly self-sufficient, stoic, and uncomplaining.

My point before I got lost explaining the difference between animate and inanimate collections is that collectors cannot just choose what to collect: it is pre-ordained. When God matched collectors and collectibles, he was quite specific about it. Stamp people are not to be mixed up with coin people, candle people, perfume people, stationery people, rare books people. There are those into Lladro figurines and Murano crystals and those that do matches and caps. Apparently it was not written in the stars that I do stamps.

What was I then? I wanted to collect boy friends and suitors at the very outset but I simply did not have the shape and the looks required. So I reluctantly gave that up. I tried elephant figurines and paper currencies, then baskets, then Delft blues without much success. I was beginning to panic -- like a maiden about to enter spinsterhood -- I was sleeping when collector's instincts were being distributed. Until I went to Japan and saw in the sidewalks what looked like teapots with double spouts. Something clicked in me and I knew I had found the thing for which I was intended.



Since then my friends who are about to travel to Japan do so stealthily because they know if I knew they were Japan bound, I would drop my manners and be inconsiderate and insist they bring me stuff that had to be hand carried, being fragile-handle with care.

It IS preordained -- for why else would I have a cupboard groaning with tea pots now when I never ever got the tea set I made kulit to Santa for in my bereft childhood.

(By the way, I also collect -- aside from Japanese tea pots -- Chinese tea pots and generic -- from whichever country -- whiteware. Hmmm ... lapit na Pasko, di ba?)

23 comments:

Sexy Mom said...

now you have bared it publicly, the annamanila way, and lapit na pasko! you're not losing oyur manners, mind you, you are just sharing with us a part of yourself. with all your friends from many parts of the world, am sure that in time, you will have a 2nd or 3rd cabinet for your colleccione.

one of my former officemates collects sand or soil, and she has always been happy when i went out of the country to bring her some. sometimes though embarrassingly, i would pick up a handful, like a handful of soil to the nearest place as possible to the taj mahal, or to the tree where Buddha was believed to have prayed for enlightenment before he became what he was, or the site where the union carbide leak happened, etc.

as for me, i have kept my collection of boarding passes and hotel key cards, and i would place extra marks for a boarding pass or ey card which has a story to tell--now, now, unless someone cares to bring me with him or her for an out of town or out of country airplane ride, or book me in a hotel, kahit lapit na pasko, i cannot include a boarding pass or hotel key card that is not personally used by me. LOL

Abaniko said...

I give you a tip: R-yo's coming home from Japan in December. Hehe.

When I was a kid I used to collect beach pebbles before but I realized it's a boring hobby collecting the same set of white pebbles from the same God forsaken beach over and over again. So I shifted to collecting spiders.

Leah said...

ahh..what a pretty collection. I should take a photo of my display in my kitchen and send it to you, I have teapots too. Although most of them have been used.

I see something familiar in the cabinet which is not a teapot. The aroma melts warmer should be outside , maybe in the kitchen. I hope you use it often enough.

soloops said...

An aunt passed on to me her stamp collection, which my sisters wouldn't touch for fear that it bore the jinx of spinsterhood.

I used to attend meetings of philatelists. Can't blame my sisters for calling me weirdo I guess.

Gina said...

What a beautiful collection AM!
I love teapots too, the tiniest ones ;) and plan to start a collection someday.

Thanks for giving us a peek of what gives you pleasure. It's always interesting to know.

Mari said...

now that sexymom mentioned boarding passes, i realized that my collection is the same as hers. i just didn't have much time organizing all the memento gleaned from my trips. but i definitely kept all boarding passes, even e-tickets!

imom said...

I think you will need more space. hehe. You still have about 3 months anyway, so go, have a new cabinet made :)

mitsuru said...

we have a lot of very beautiful tea pots in wooden/ lacquered boxes from japan at home. my late father's family were into ceramics and calligraphy.

i used to collect girl friends. he-he. just kidding. but i do collect a lot of things. ;)

Rudy said...

I was never into collecting things, or as you say, inanimate objects, but I do have a collection of heartbreaks and disappointments enough to last me a lifetime... :-)

soulsheik said...

Hi AnnaManila,
This is my first comment on your blog. I've been here before from Snglguy's blog.

You have an exquisite collection. I'm an avid tea-drinker and like my tea in a tea pot. I drink five pots a day, and because of my ungracefulness one day, orphaned the cups and the saucers. I miss my tea pot. She had been a friend.

I collect songs. And I have about 250GB of it.

Have a nice day.

tanivillamora said...

I would like to collect teapots too and have a tea party. My friends don't like tea but we always meet up for coffee and cake at my house. :) True about collectors and collections. Sometimes it's better to be fixated on inanimate objects... my precious... :)

bw said...

People collect for a hobby but some take it very seriously. There's this guy who collected LP ( 33 rpm) records and amassed a total of 50,000 yikes. He had a warehouse for it and later on sold them for more than a million bucks :)

I'm thinking of collecting caps
(hats) :) but I just don't know how to display them hehe :)

lady cess said...

i am amused at the way you wrote this post. i esp love the way you wrote about your daughter. wika nga ng spam e,..you have very nice analysis =D

i'm afraid i haven't yet discovered what should be my pre-ordained collection. let's see in a couple more years.

katcarneo said...

Oh, your daughter is so sweet. I'm volunteering for an NGO that helps stray animals and I just might see her there in a couple of years.

I've managed to collect a lot of secondhand paperbacks mostly bought at BookSale, but I don't know if I can really call em my collection. I don't really go out of my way to look for them. I just pass by a store, and see one, and buy it, and read it, and keep it among the many others. Although, I also don't want to part with them. Once I thought of reselling them but I found out I couldn't quite do it.

pining said...

what a lovely collection!
I like looking at porcelain, never mind collecting it, they're too delicate :-)

julie said...

Now that you have mentioned it,I think about what I have collected over the years. In HS I collected posters and tapes of my fave band, Duran Duran. In college, well, none that I can think of.

I might say that I have a sizeable collection of books (like if I like an author, I buy his/her books). Now I collect memories, through the photos that I take.

Nice post AM, and oh, I wish you a Merry Christmas :)

Anna said...

ha, ha. you have mastered the art of subtlety, AM! this post made me think about the collections started and abandoned. i used to collect stamps, coins, stationery, dolls and postcards. now i have miniature chairs, seashells, boxes, coffee mugs, ref magnets, what have yous.

Belle said...

anna, i love teapots, in fact, i have given a set that i had for years to a friend, who eventually lost interest in it, and it is now shoved in the dark corner of her closet. maybe, i will ask it back from her and give it to you. i also know someone who collects salt and pepper shaker, which i might get started on myself anytime soon.

Princess said...

That's a unique and lovely collection, Anna. That was a beautiful poem for your boss - may he rest in peace.

exskindiver said...

i will keep this in mind, MC.

Heart of Rachel said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Every one has a unique fondness for something.

I admire your daughter's kindness to animals. It reminded me of my younger days. When I was a young girl, my parents said that I was a god fairy of animals because I loved rescuing animals.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful collection. I love how neatly they are displayed.

I loved collecting Hello Kitty things when I was younger. I still have them with me.

caryn said...

here in tokyo we have a lot of bazaars wherein you can get pre-owned or new quality ceramics for a good price ;-) you'd love it here.

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