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Legaspi, Alecz B.

November 14, 2018


2018-00638/ CAC/ Ba Comm Extended Essay
Comm 11/ B 892

Thesis Statement: IKAR used dolls to control the Philippines

IKAR Dolls: The Filipino Collection

IKAR is an international group that branched out to the Philippines during the 16th century.

IKAR produces and exhibits dolls. It has a large influence in the country that its customers consist

of 86% of the country’s population (Miller 2018). Their doll designs were inspired by the characters

from a book entitled “Elbib: Early and Contemporary Attestations” which was written in the 6th

Century (Moskowitz 2010). These dolls do not only serve as ornaments but also as symbols of

wealth, power, and windows to history. Three of their most influential and rare dolls are found in

the Philippines namely “Baby J”, “NAZ”, and “Lady M”.

“Baby J”

One of the oldest model in IKAR doll line is the Baby J. This doll first reached the

Philippines in the year 1521, the same year when IKAR established their branch in the

archipelago, Baby J was brought to the Philippines by a Portuguese named Agel Edinans as an

offering to the leader of Cebu for accepting the IKAR in their community. Since then, IKAR gained

a large number of followers and the Baby J became an icon to the early Filipinos (Abinales and

Amoroso 2005).

Baby J has different looks and features. The standard Baby J is 30 cm tall with dominant

European features on its face and curly hair. However, variations of this model started to rise due

to the advancements in modern design. A limited edition version was released by the IKAR in

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which the Baby J showed features of the Filipino race. A brown-skinned boy with straight hair

locks wearing a woven palm hat (Landy 2018)

Prices vary depending on the materials and details of Baby J. It can be bought on selected

IKAR branches however, there are local doll makers that create replicas of this model. Low-end

standard wooden doll replica costs at around ₱200- ₱2,200 depending on the size and details (St

Pauls 2018). Higher-ends like a custom-made, full-size Baby J with full embroidery of clothes and

cape together with accessories (gold baton and/or crown) can cost from ₱15,000-₱40,000 (Flickr

2008)

“Naz”

Naz is a rare doll in the IKAR doll line which can only be found in the Philippines. It is the

only one of its kind that arrived in the Philippines from the IKAR’s mexican branch in the year

1606. It was first displayed in the IKAR Luneta Kiosk in 1606 but it was transferred to Quiapo

branch in 1767 (Gonsalves 2018).

The original body of the Naz was destroyed in 1945 during the World War II. It was

restored by a Filipino doll conservator named Gener Manlaqui using the original head of Naz and

a complete replica of the body (Fortunado 2018)

Naz features an adult-size body while having a black colour skin. It is covered in a maroon

dress with gold embroideries all over the bottom up to the back of its garment. It also comes with

accessories like a large, black rood and a golden crown.

Unfortunately, the Naz is not for sale due to its rarity. However, there are replicas for sale

especially in the Quiapo area. These replicas were made by local doll makers and most of these

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Naz replicas are miniature versions of the original. The price starts at ₱80 (Gma News Online

2016) and can reach up to ₱660 (St Pauls 2018) depending on the size and details present.

“Lady M”

The Lady M is a special edition doll released by the IKAR that was brought by

Augustinians to the Philippines in the early 17th Century (Asentista n.d.). Its design is similar to

the MerMag collections (MerMag is a doll collection from IKAR that is based from a woman in

Elbib wearing a dress with white and blue accents). What made Lady M special is that it comes

with a miniature Baby J attached to its hands which is not present in any of the MerMag doll

collections.

There is only one Lady M in existence and it is found in IKAR Manaoag Kiosk in the

province of Pangasinan. The rarity of this doll attracts thousands of people not only from the

Philippines but also from other parts of the world. In fact, it was declared by the House of Senates

under House Bill 7882 that Manaoag is officially a tourist destination (Rosario 2018).

The material used in making the Lady M is ivory. Its accessories like crown and sceptre

are made of diamonds. Several expensive jewels are also sewn onto its gold-embroidered dress

making the Lady M as one of the priceless dolls in the history of IKAR (Philippines Insider 2017).

Power and Influence

These dolls did not only represent the success of IKAR but it also showed a great power

and influence that dominated the majority of Filipinos. IKAR successfully showed and implied that

the dolls they manufacture is essential to the life of the Filipino people. They created an illusion

in which, a tangible item is worthy of money, time, and effort as if it was made to be worshipped.

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Even the rarity of an item did not stop the Filipinos to flock on a certain place just to show their

fondness and obsession. It controlled the minds of the people and removed the sense of living

even if these dolls never existed.