He lived in the USA for 29 years, starting in 1986, 66-year old Tomas Claridad Casiano also known as Tomiko, florist to the rich of Beverly Hills, California, returned to Bacolod for good and built his Vintage Glasses Museum called “Laguerta” in Barangay Sum-ag, Bacolod City.
The museum has a balcony on the second floor that will serve as a stage for performances. He wants to promote arts and culture and develop local talents. He also envisions his barangay to be the center of the performing arts in the city.
At the edge of the balcony, water cascades down the front of the museum building, providing a natural cooling system for the coffee shop on the first floor.
A member of the Bird Feeders Association of America, Casiano has also designed the yard of his museum to be bird friendly with several landing and bathing areas to draw them.
So as one walks around the grounds and views his glass collection, aside from the sound of the cascading water, one is bound to hear the chirping of the birds.
Tomiko has a bachelor of science in education degree, major in general science from La Consolacion College, a bachelor of arts degree major in natural science from the University of Negros Occidental–Recoletos in Bacolod City, and a masters degree in science education from the University of Baguio.
He was a district science promotion officer of the Science Foundation of the Philippines before he worked in Australia and later in the United States.
In the United States, he first worked as a butler for movie director Benjamin Smith before starting his own flower shop.
It was during his years in the United States that Tomiko acquired his glass collection.
He had been sending the glass pieces he collected home through the years, and when he finally decided to return to Bacolod for good in 2012, he shipped 66 more boxes of his glass collection.
Tomiko said he has about 2,000 glass pieces, ranging from dinnerware, Victorian lamps, decorative pieces, decanters, to commemorative plates in various hues with intricate designs.
About 95 percent of his collection comes from the United States and not all of them are on display at the museum yet.
His collection includes depression glasses — colored glassware made primarily during the depression years in the United States from 1904 to 1940. These include those in the color of green, pink, red, yellow, amber, ruby and fire, cobalt blue, aquamarine and delphite, among others.
He also has opalescent glasses, which are two layers of glass, one colored and one clear, and carnival glasses – iridescent glasses usually pattern molded and treated with metallic salts.
Tomiko explained that the Vaseline glasses in his collection are no longer being produced, that is because, to achieve their transparent yellow to yellow-green glass colors, uranium content was used.
His collection also has Jadite glass, a type of uranium glass that appears in various shades of pale green, and Milk glass, an opaque or translucent, milky white or colored glass, blown or pressed into a wide variety of shapes.
Also among his collection are pressed glass and crystal with sterling silver overlays.
Tomiko said the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesdays to Sundays, and visitors can come by appointment by calling tel. no. 444-1140, cellphone number 0917-3098895, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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