Saturday, October 4, 2008

31. 1914, Queen of the Manila Carnival, DOLORES DELA CERNA PEREZ RUBIO

1914 QUEEN OF THE MANILA CARNIVAL. Dolores Perez Rubio of Manila, belonged to a well-known family of Spanish descent. She was better known as Queen Lolita I.

The 1914 edition of the Manila Carnival went on schedule, hardly showing the effects of World War I. The festivities of that year brought back the romantic Spanish element of Philippine society when Dolores Perez-Rubio was elected as queen. Her parents were Jose Perez Rubio and Carolina dela Cerna, both of pure Spanish aristocracy, and it was in the genteel district of Ermita that the Perez-Rubios settled.

The Perez Rubios were a large family, and Lolita ( as Dolores was called) had seven other siblings: Pepita, Luz, Hortencio, Jose, Carlos and twins Rosa Blanca and Blanca Rosa (later known as Mother Blanca of the Assumption). The Perez Rubio girls were caught up in the heady social whirl of Manila, often invited in gala events such as the ball given to the Prince of Wales of England who had come visiting Manila.

BEAUTIFUL VICTIM OF WAR. The Perez Rubio family suffered much in the last war, with the family almsot completely wiped out save for a handful of members like Dolores and her sister, an Assumptionist nun, who took shelter in the convent that survived the 1945 bombings.

Dolores could recall very little of her Carnival days, her prize included a sterling silver dressing set. But she had vivid recollections of a visit to Australia, which she undertook to rest after her hectic Carnival activities. The Australian governor accorded her a warm welcome and she was the special guest in a fabulous festival. Wearing a gown she wore at her coronation, she was awarded a Golden Apple by a panel of judges for being the most beautiful woman of the event.
When she returned to the Philippines, she met and married a captain of the British Royal Air Force, Robert Gregory. The second World War was to bring much tragedy and sorrow to the Perez Rubio family. Her husband, assigned in Hong Kong, perished in the fighting there. During the Liberation of Manila in 1945, the family was nearly decimated with the exception of Blanca Rosa who was already in the Assumption convent by then, and Dolores—who had sought refuge in the same place. The convent was one of the few that survived the bombings of the War.

This is one reason why only a few photographs of Dolores can be found today; the Perez Rubios lost family members, their homes, properties and belongings, and the rest who survived chose to leave the Philippines to get away from it all. Dolores herself, flew to England with her children. She survived her own daughter and lived for the rest of her life in London.

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