We were having lunch at Brothers Burger along Diosdado Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City yesterday and wondering how we’d spend the afternoon until it was time to bring Sam back to the dorm. Sam wanted to go to the World Bazaar at the World Trade Center and we tried to after lunch except that parking was bad and the huge crowd made me dizzy. We drove around and I suggested the Balikbayan Handicrafts Center right across Brothers Burger that I spotted while having lunch.
And that was where we went. And, my, we were impressed. And shocked. Let me explain.
In a previous entry, the one about the marble eggs, I mentioned that I placed the eggs in a wooden salad bowl that cost P50 from the Dapitan Market. A similarly sized salad bowl at the Balikbayan Handicrafts Center cost P500. There was a 50% discount but that would still be too expensive. Of course, if I weren’t familiar with Dapitan prices, I might have found the P500 less 50% price tag reasonable. Solid wood products rarely come cheap. But then I have the advantage of being able to compare so I left the salad bowl section.
There were items that you wouldn’t find in a flea market though.
Like this beautiful Nativity set. The heads and hands of the figures are made of wood and the bodies are made from twigs. Well, tingting (dried spine of the coconut leaf), from the feel of it. The price? P4000 less 50%. I almost bought a set.
For those who prefer the feel of solid wood, there’s this more complete Nativity set that includes animal figures. I liked the first set better. More unique.
Sam and Alex went crazy with the stuff they found there. Sam wanted a huge wooden seat made from the entire width of a huge tree trunk. Something like five feet wide. She sat on the thing and declared she could sleep in it. But the thing cost P60,000.
Alex saw ship models — galleons — the larger one cost P15,000 and the smaller one, P5,000.
Then, there were the angels. The girls first saw the one with the “wand.” The sales lady showed them how to turn the base so that music played while the angel went ’round and ’round.
It turned out it wasn’t a wand the angel was holding but a baton (at the center of the photo). The angel could be bought solo or as part of a set — an orchestra of angels, each holding a different musical instrument.
The “Madonna and child” owl figure which I really loved cost P15,000. So never mind.
There was this frog too. Not my type but Sam and Speedy liked it.
Aside from the ornamental pieces, there were furniture. Beautiful furniture.
Like this table, a 12-seater, glass-topped and the base made of the roots of an entire tree. Price: P900,000. No, that’s not a typo. That’s nine hundred thousand pesos. Less 50%.
The root design is echoed in this bed. I didn’t bother checking the price anymore.
There were 12-foot long tables with tabletops made from thick solid wood — apparently the trunks of entire trees.
In short, there were very few items in the store that I didn’t like. The designs were marvelous, I love wood products… Heck, the self-control I mustered not to whip out my credit card yesterday was nothing short of amazing. We walked out of the store with nothing. The prices were just too much.
We were already in the pickup when Speedy articulated the question that we didn’t talk about while inside the store — the environmental impact of all those solid wood products. For years, we’ve been hearing about the problems caused by the denudation of forests, particularly, floods and landslides. Logging continues though as many powerful politicians are also owners of logging companies.
This question about logging and the environment led me to search to find out just what the position of Balikbayan Handicrafts is. I found its website where it says the company is an exporter and wholesaler. Sadly, the About Us page says nothing about the source of the wood used in making the handicrafts and furniture.