Google defines an heirloom as “a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.” In light of that, I’m not really sure that the objects I’m about to describe qualify as family heirlooms. Though they have been in my family for several generations (or less), they probably aren’t considered valuable by common standards. In any case, they’re quite special to me, so I’ll elevate their status from simply “this old thang” to “family heirloom.” Instant fanciness!
Arras (Coins). I described previously some of the Filipino traditions that we’re incorporating into our church ceremony. The first of these are arras, 13 silver or gold coins representing the couple’s commitment to mutually contributing to their relationship, their children, and their community. There are places where one can procure gold coins specifically for this purpose, but my dad remembered that his family has a collection of old Filipino-American coins that we could use for our arras. The silver coins were minted during the brief period in history when the Philippines was a territory of the United States (1899-1946). My grandmother collected these coins after the Philippines gained its independence, recognizing that they’d soon become obsolete as the Philippines issued its own currency. My dad even remembers filling his first piggy bank with these Filipino-American coins when he was a child.
On the left, both sides of the 50 centavo piece (dated 1907). On the right, both sides of the 10 centavo piece (dated 1944).