I miss Cardinal ceramics

For the past decade, we have been hunting for the perfect candle holders. Not for decorative purposes, really, but because in this Third World country where storms and typhoons often mean power outages that can last for days, candles are still useful. We don’t like crystal candle holders which may look gorgeous and classy but which will probably make me cry if any of the house helpers broke them.

We don’t have house helpers anymore but my idea of how our candle holders should be has not really changed. I want them to be sturdy. I want them to be able to hold large candles. And I want them to look GOOD. I saw some solid wood sets in Dapitan last year, the prices made me faint so I didn’t buy any. Then, the rainy season was upon us and we knew we’d better start looking around some more. These were the best we could find.

casaveneracion.com tea-candles

I’m not exactly ecstatic about them but they looked decent enough so we bought four. Then, it turned out that they can only hold tea candles. Speedy said the glass got too hot if large candles were placed inside. We didn’t want to take risks so we used them once, burned some tea candles, and they’ve been lying on the living room coffee table since — forgotten and forlorn. No one even bothered to clean out the candle stubs.

All this time that we had been looking for candle holders, the only thing that remained constant inside my head was how much I wanted to go to the Cardinal ceramics outlet. We used to go there so often, in the Quezon city factory outlet, and I still have a lot of the stuff I bought when Sam and Alex were very young. Like this bowl.

casaveneracion.com cardinal-ceramics-bowl

When a cousin got married, we gave her a pair of pure white candle holders shaped like angels.

If you’re not familiar with Cardinal ceramics, it’s an export company that started out as a livelihood program for the residents of Tala leprosarium. “Cardinal” refers to the late Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Rufino J. Santos who played a huge role in turning the project into a profitable business. There used to be two outlets, one in the Scout area in Quezon City and the main one in Makati right across the YMCA. The great thing about these outlets was that they were factory outlets that sold overruns and rejects, the latter with slight painting issues that, considering the fantastic rock-bottom bargain prices (sounds overkill but the prices were really, really low), were quite negligible.

We couldn’t find Quezon City anymore last year. And just a couple of weeks ago, a friend told us that Cardinal ceramics in Makati was holding its final sale before finally closing its doors. I don’t know if it’s just the factory outlets that have closed or if the export company has folded up too. I found a U.S. company that sells Cardinal ceramics products and the listing appears current. Does that mean I can still buy Cardinal ceramics products in a roundabout way? By ordering from a U.S. company that imported the items from the Philippines in the first place? I’m sure the prices will be much, much, MUCH more than the factory prices at the Quezon City and Makati outlets. And that won’t make them too attractive to a price-conscious consumer like me.