Antique repurposing

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    I’d like to pay tribute to our very talented and persevering Taytay sash workers and craftsmen. Decades ago, we had balusters and bannisters made in a Taytay sash factory.

    These were made from old, old wood from my husband’s ancestral house in Malabon. He “rescued” them when he saw that the huge floor planks were just being used as walkways in his Mom’s garden. So he had the antique lumber hauled all the way from Malabon to Antipolo.

    These huge planks of old wood became our balusters, bannisters, window ledges, balcony posts, and stair steps going down to our 2nd and 3rd floors. The retazos became conversation pieces which we scattered in different parts of our house — like little sentinels that guarded us in silence.

    The Taytay sash factory owner (a venerable old man with an ancient GE electric fan that still whirred and worked) told me that our old wood was so hard it broke quite a number of their saw blades! But they still persevered in getting our orders done. Thank God for our dependable Taytay sash factory workers.

    Our four children grew up in this house, in our very own bahay na bato. They grew up surrounded by plants and trees, frogs and crickets, the occasional fireflies in our bedrooms, and many things made from old, old lumber.

    For countless hours, they rolled over and ran around our red tile floors. They played touch ball with our friends’ kids in our lower floor, pushing aside my Lola’s old Narra furniture which mom had shipped all the way from Masbate. Our children endlessly ran up and down our ancient stairsteps for decades, giving the old wood its deep, natural shine. We needed to buff our wooden steps and heirloom furniture only once a year.

    One time, one of the boys almost fell from the upper floor — from the attic to our bedroom bed. Scary but safe. There were always shrieks of fright…and laughter whenever we had other children over, which was often. We were used to unannounced sleepovers. Our home was practically child-proof then. There was nothing expensive to break, except the children’s heads, haha.

    A bit of happy history — our Vigan tiles, red bricks, and burnay jars really came from Vigan, courtesy of an old friend who loves antiques more than we do. Then there was this generous friend (who now owns Las Casas) who gave us truckloads of form lumber which he sent to our property, when our house was being constructed. Another old friend chose our contractor, and made sure that our house was finished, even if there was a severe cement shortage then. Another friend (who had extensive experience in construction) would drop by, check the on-going work, and give us feedback about what was right or wrong with it. So you could say that our bahay na bato was built on the kindness of good, old reliable friends who were gracious with their time and resources.

    Little did we know that God had strange plans for our house. We used to smoke and get drunk, argue and tell awful stories stories to one another, while watching this stunning panoramic view of Metro Manila from our balconies. That was our standard activity since our friends loved to go up to our house and spend at least half a day there. It was impossible to shoo them away once they saw the view, settled comfortably on a chair, and breathed in some fresh air. So we squandered our lives away like that for a year or so. It was nice, actually, as some wasteful things can be.

    But then, the most important discovery in our lives happened. We thoroughly enjoyed this small bible study that was being taught by a newfound friend. In the process, we did the most important thing: we surrendered our lives to Christ. And that’s also when God started repurposing our home.

    For the next 30 years, it became the venue for hundreds of Bible studies, mini-retreats, and church meetings. Our choir once had a whole-day retreat in our 2nd floor. One of our satellite churches had its beginnings in our home. We had elders meetings, pastors meetings, ministry meetings, and dinners for foreign missionaries. This was aside from our weekly bible studies for around 20-30 people, which, by God’s grace alone, we were able to host for decades. We’d put the kids and yayas on the upper floor. It was a joyful riot! And yes — we even had a wedding and reception in our home for one of our church members, complete with a red carpet, a bridal boudoir, a wedding backdrop, and tons of flowers all around. All done in a house that was built with touches of old, old wood and old, old furniture that were once wasted, unused or undervalued.

    Now they had become priceless.

    It’s amazing how God can repurpose anything — even old, useless lives. Even dusty, throw-away things. Even wasted years and wasteful habits. If we let Him.

    That’s why He promises: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

    He can turn the most eroded lives into the richest legacies. That’s what He did for us. And yes, He will do it for anyone who wants to be repurposed, restored, and redeemed.

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