Recuerdo de Filipinas at UST Library shows country at turn of 19th century

The University of Santo Tomas Miguel de Benavides Library mounted an exhibition of vintage memorabilia titled “Recuerdo de Filipinas: A survey of the cultural landscape through postcards, stamps and letters 1898-1941.” It was opened on January 29, 2020 and runs until May 20, 2020. 

With a majority of the items belonging to “The Pichon Family and Robert Biggert Collections,” the exhibition tells a visual story of the life ways in the Philippines at the turn of the 19th century until the eve of the Second World War. The postcard exhibit focuses on the general culture of its people, its architecture and the islands of Mindanao – home of the Pichon Family. Aside from postcards, also exhibited are historic stamps from the UST Museum collection, the private stamp collection of the late Fr. Antonio Cabezon, O.P., and from the Archivo del Convento de la Santa Cruz de los Padres Dominicos de San Juan del Monte, as well as significant letters from the holdings of the Archivo de la Universidad de Santo Tomás that are rarely seen in public.

“The Pichon Family and Robert Biggert Collections” were bequeathed to the UST Library in 2018, through the signing of a Deed of Donation between the family of Erlinda Pichon, a Thomasian from Caraga, Davao Oriental, represented by Mr. Expedito Pichon, and UST Prefect of Libraries Rev. Fr. Angel A. Aparicio, O.P. The said agreement was signed on September 29, 2017 in Davao City.

Erlinda Pichon was a co-founder of a non-profit Amauan Multi-Arts Workshop in New York City, which operated from 1878 to 1998. In her service of two decades as Amauan’s unpaid director, she was honored at the Malacañang Palace as an Outstanding Overseas Filipino. Erlinda completed her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1965, while her sister, Corazon Pichon Stanly was a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 1966.

In a message written on the souvenir program, Ms. Rosalinda Pichon Martin, sister and executor of the Last Will and Testament of Erlinda Pichon, explained that “The donors sought out postcards mainly on two specialized themes: The first theme colors the ways that traditional and indigenous Filipino societies were being portrayed in their villages, homes, activities and clothing. The second theme pursued the motives and mindsets of the political, religious and business forces of the Americans in the Philippines. Like all postcard collectors, the donors sought examples of the earliest periods: Pioneer (Pre-1898), Private Mailing Card (1898-1901) and Undivided Back (1901-1907).”

Normally housed at the Antonio Vivencio del Rosario Heritage Library, “The Pichon Family and Robert Biggert Collections” contain postcards, books, photographic materials, US Congress reports, magazine articles, and other printed ephemera concerning the presence of the United States of America in the Philippines. The postcards, numbering to more than a thousand, were gathered by Robert Biggert and Erlinda Pichon during their time living in 1980s United States – a time when older liberal arts colleges in the US were closing their libraries.

“The Library expresses its gratitude to all its friends and benefactors, especially to the Pichon family. We pray and hope this exhibit will evoke feelings of nostalgia for times and places stamped with the patina of past generations,” Fr. Aparicio said in his message.

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