After the Sangley Rebellion of 1603 that saw the killing of 20,000 Chinese in Manila, many Chinese moved to the old, independent settlement towns of Guagua and Betis in Pampanga. They were merchants, masons, woodcarvers, carpenters and laborers who practiced their trade freely, mingled, worked and married with local residents. Betis became a popular town for woodcarving and furniture making, until in 1904 that it was consolidated with Guagua. The master furniture maker Nuguid opened his shop in Betis before the war and started a style which came to be known as “Betis Baroque,” the baroque revival style of the 19th century adapted to the trends of the mid-20th century.
The one-piece top has rope gadrooning running on all four sides and around the circular corners, from which stand four barley-twisted posts with urn, rings and leafed beads (similar to design and shape of gold beads in old tambourine necklaces) on either ends. The cabinet doors have multiple mouldings and high raised central panel carved with florid sunken relief of scrolling acanthus leaves. Leafed scrolled feet oriented at 45-degree angle support the whole cabinet, with scrolled skirting in between. Inside are nine short and long drawers for ample storage, with chamfered tops for easy, handleless access – a design feature often seen in mid-century Scandinavian sideboards.
This could have been used as a filing cabinet for important papers and documents or a cutlery cabinet to hold expensive silverwares. Such lavish, classic details and also on-trend features can only have been custom-made for an opulent family.