Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It did, at first, seemed, when you think logically about it, a rather extravagant purchase made by my mother but when the matched set of two chairs and a coffee table was delivered to our family home here in Lianga, I had to admit to myself that there is indeed something about the mysterious, dark mystique and aura of precious, durable beauty attached to Magkono wood products that can mark any one excessively engaged in hardfisted haggling about how much they should or really cost as downright cheap and insufferably stingy.

Even when still rough and unfinished, the table and chairs already exude a sense of primitive yet subdued strength and toughness, as if the patina of weathered and roughened skin covering the robust, metal-hard wood beneath it can somehow bear witness to countless years of stubborn and defiant resistance to the destructive effects of time and the unfriendly elements. There are, in fact, more than a few furniture fanciers who prefer to get their Magkono items unsanded and unpolished since much of this very quality and the unique beauty and symmetry of the hardwood's natural grain patterns are often lost in the final cleaning and varnishing process.

Most, however, prefer them completely smoothened all over and polished to a glossy sheen, the flat surfaces gleaming like dark mirrors. The color of Magkono wood in its natural state varies from a darkish cream to almost black with the younger wood often lighter in hue. When cut down and buried in the ground, it generally darkens with time. Old, time-seasoned wood is best for making top quality furniture and is so tough and hard that it is impervious to termites and other wood-boring pests.

The best furniture designs for this increasingly rare and precious hardwood are often those that accentuate rather than obscure its natural form and coloring. Thus the "deformed" style is heavily favored nowadays since it allows local craftsmen to utilize wood from tree parts like the thick branches and roots which would otherwise be discarded as waste if more classical and "refined" designs were followed.

The coffee table set and several other pieces of Magkono furniture now, of course, occupy places of honor in our family home here in Lianga. They may be completely functional home furnishings but they are also veritable works of art whose sheer durability and toughness insure that they will continue to be appreciated and treasured even many decades from now.

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled on your blogsite because of toog. I posted a comment on your 2008 post. Many people should see your site for your lovely posts, i wish more should come over. Maybe you should help them find you here. Try commenting on others, so they will come and see. Thanks.I haven't seen a mangkono tree or wood, but i heard and read so much about it. In fact, when we see the toog tree towering majestically in Surigao Ridges on the horizon, while we were riding on a bus to Bislig, and later to Davao, we thought it was the mangkono. Upon returning to Manila, we were told it was toog. I didn't sleep in those rigorous un-airconditioned bus ride, and see all the patches of kaingin and deforestation going on the hillsides. Even the way to Tinuy-an and Hinatuan River are suffering from slush and burn. Those are really saddening pictures to see in those areas!