Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Interesting how in the Bahay Tsinoy museum, one of the things that caught my eye was this bench at the corner of the lobby's reception area. Perhaps, it reminded me of my penchant for mission-style furniture, as well as about a story that a friend in New York once told me.

While enjoying a cup of coffee in Manhattan's Soho district one late fall Sunday afternoon, after window shopping for some new furniture to spruce up her apartment, she told me a story that she must've read in some magazine many years ago. It was about two brothers only a year apart in age. The oldest was a successful Wall Street arbitrageur, the younger a radical artist whose avant-garde visions somehow relegated him to the fringes of New York's elitist art circles; thus, perpetually in dire financial straits.

Ever since being informed of his older brother's bout with cancer, he decided to take time off from his projects so he could stay with him throughout the remaining time he had left. Sibling rift existed between these two from their growing up years, but somehow during mid-life, their differences took on a mellower tone; they found themselves enjoying each other's company more so than realized.

The oldest had been a widower for about five years, and whose two daughters were already married and getting on with their respective life. The younger brother, on the other hand, had just gone through his second divorce; his only son, from his first marriage, made a career of his military service. Both were basically living solitary lives and greatly welcomed the idea of once again sharing the same roof. They decided to rent a condominium apartment somewhere In Florida's Fort Lauderdale area. However, it would only last no more than seven months.

My friend was unable to recall any details of what transpired between these two within that time period. I, for one, was intrigued to know more about it. Anyway,
during the reading of the will about a month after the older brother's death, everyone was supposedly in for quite a surprise.

His two daughters were astounded to learn about the extent of their father's wealth accumulated during his years in Wall Street; the bulk of which was willed to them. The younger brother, who was not expecting anything at all, but nonetheless appreciative for the time he had spent with his brother prior to his death, was equally astonished when revealed the recipient of his brother's summer house -- a humble abode in a sizable prime property in Montauk Point in Long Island, New York. Moreover, he was to do whatever he wished with it provided the proceeds would enable him to pursue manifesting his inner visions, though unappreciated by a mainstream art community.

When the younger brother finally went to visit the said property, he was even more dumbfounded to discover it filled with original Gustav Stickley furniture. There was also an impressive collection of signed Art Nouveau objets d'art. However, he wasn't one to live in such opulent setting. A couple of years later, after much soul searching, he decided to sell them off. And with the money raised, he developed the property and turned it into an artist colony to benefit struggling artists.


posted by Señor Enrique at 9:36 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story!

This reminds me of my two sons. When they were younger, they would fight no end. But now that they are grown, they have this special bond that even I, their mother, cannot seem to penetrate.

Nice photo, Eric. I don't know why, but I am fascinated with pics of empty benches and chairs... must be the weird side in me.. hehehe

July 25, 2007 10:25 AM  

Blogger INKBLOTS said...

Wow! That story is one for the books!

I wish I have a brother like the older one.

July 25, 2007 10:58 AM  

Blogger cacofonix said...

'love (taking photos of) benches too - the sense of romance, mystery, profundity, even absurdity of the many stories attached to them are almost palpable in the air.

inspiring story S.E., I'm drooling over the house and its art treasures....*whew*....and of course the millions...hehe.

July 25, 2007 12:26 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My cousin's two boys used to fight like cats and dogs that even their driver was unable to drive them home from school, because they used to go at it with fists and all at the back seat.

But now in their late teens, both have grown as close friends; the younger even followed the older to study in the States.

Thanks, Rhoda. I love taking pics of home interiors even without anyone included. I think the furnishings and the way they are arranged speak of many silent tales.

July 25, 2007 12:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

If this story was indeed true, Cacofonix, then no doubt the younger sibling raked in millions of dollars from the sale of those pieces from the Arts & Crafts period.

According to a NY Times article alone, Barbra Streisand's collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau was auctioned by Christie's in 1994 for $5.8 million, well above the $4 million the auction house estimated the sale would bring.

Check out some of the pics of the pieces from the auction catalog:

I'm content just admiring these items; I cannot afford them ... hehehe.

July 25, 2007 1:20 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

With benches, I think of the "bench culture" back in college, wherein student barkadas occupy a bench as their territory or tambayan. (Never really got into this thing since I had both a dorm room and an org room for my social needs as well as for my solitude.) Most of the benches are plastic, save for one that is wooden (though not as classy as the one in your photo), and this "special" bench is for the coños.

July 26, 2007 12:22 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

very inspiring story, señor! funny how siblings become good friends as they grow older.

July 26, 2007 5:48 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Interesting observations, Dave. I can see how territoriality issues may develop in certain enclaves or campuses in which the benches become the convenient markers.

Very fortunate of you to have such facilities/refuge :)

July 26, 2007 6:28 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Two of my older brothers had the same kind of relationship, Carla. Now, they're best of friends, meeting in Manhattan for lunch as often as they could.

July 26, 2007 7:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Don't we all Ding?

Thanks :")

July 26, 2007 7:48 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Eric, you were shooting the bench against the light, right?

Just learned that at 5 and above megapixels, the naked eye has difficulty differentiating between one photo from the others.

Since my old point-and-shoot only rates at 2mp, I sorely need to upgrade. HeHeHe.

July 27, 2007 12:54 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

benches reminds me of conversation, relaxation and ideas in the making. love the pic, eric! thanks for visiting my blog and the kind words you said. God bless!

July 27, 2007 2:19 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Reminds me of the "timeout" bench in high school at UST. The "D" section where I was and I have spent a lot of time sitting on that bench outside of the classroom. Taking a nap until rudely awakened by Ms. Meneses after my punishment is over and back to her math class for a few more torturous minutes of her "Poliburo red indoctrination" style of teaching.

July 27, 2007 3:39 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"Poliburo red indoctrination style of teaching."

Two movie scenes came to mind immediately, Pete:

1) The Killing Fields -- where the Khmer Rouge were re-indoctrinating or re-educating the captive members of the intellectual class.

2) Austin Powers - the screaming Frau Farbissina as played by Mindy Sterling.

Were you that "makulit" in school? Hahaha!

July 27, 2007 7:07 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Your "Pretty in Pink" photograph, Nell, is really worth submitting to this photo contest:


July 27, 2007 7:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Especially if you may sometimes want larger-sized prints of your shots, Amadeo. With larger megapixel cameras, such prints will come out sharp.

But with a 2-megapixel digicam, as long as you are shooting outdoors or in a very well-lit room, the pics should be all right (good for online publishing or as email attachments).

Yes, this photo was taken against the light, the challenge of which I sometimes enjoy :)

July 27, 2007 7:18 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the chair leaves to me an impression of serenity, but then, there could be lots of stories behind it,like the one you shared with us.

July 31, 2007 12:52 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many animated conversations amongst friends, as well as whispered secrets, Dine :)

July 31, 2007 8:19 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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