Sunday, September 6, 2009



Estrella Fabon was also a candidate to the 1938 Perlas ng Silangan Contest. A well-known society figure in her time, she died young and single at the height of the American liberation of Manila.


ADELA PLANAS, 1939 Miss Visayas

Daughter of Iluminado Planas and Concepion Lim. She is the younger sister of Carmen Planas, the 1st woman councilor of Manila while another sister is Atty. Charito Planas, director of Nayong Pilipino-Clark and a champion of women's causes. Adela married a Paterno and became a doctor and a healer.


(NOTE: Nieva Erana is also credited as 1939 Miss Mindanao 1939 in some extant pictures, but was never featured in the royal court)


HERMINIA CAJULIS, Miss Mindanao 1939

Herminia "Meni" Cajulis was born on Feb. 1919 in Binakayan, Cavite to Mr. and Mrs. Felix Cajulis. She was also a contestant of the 1939 Bb. Perlas ng Silangan. After the contest, she went back to Cavite, settled in Kawit and ran a beauty-dress shop till the 1980s. She remained single all throughout her life.


86. 1939, Miss Philippines of the Philippine Exposition, ILUMINADA MOJICA TUASON

1939 MISS PHILIPPINES. Iluminada Somera Tuason, the last of the long list of royals to reign in the annual carnivals that began in 1908. In the last 3 editions, it was renamed as the Philippine Exposition. Lumen married an escort, Ramon Fernandez, who went on to become a Supreme Court justice.

The last titled beauty from the fabled Carnivals of Manila was Iluminada Mojica Tuason. She was the only daughter of Rogelia Mojica of Indang, Cavite with a certain Tuason of Manila, who died while Lumen was still very young. Her mother remarried Jose Rosales of Butuan, where they ran a piano business. Lumen would have seven half-siblings from her mother’s second marriage: Loida, Perla, Angel, Josefa, Angelina, Rogelio and Fe.

LUMINOUS LUMEN. At the time of her coronation. But she was to have a short life, dying in childbirth in the late 1940s.

Despite it being the last Carnival, Iluminada’s reign as 1939 Miss Philippines was marked with the usual splendor and extravaganza. Her court included Estrella Fabon (Miss Luzon), Adela Planas (Miss Visayas) and Herminia Cajulis (Miss Mindanao). Fabon and Cajulis had been fellow contestants the year before in the search for Bb. Perlas ng Silangan, another national beauty search.

THE 1939 MISS PHILIPPINES COURT OF BEAUTY. With Lumen as Miss Philippines are Estrella Fabon (Miss Luzon), Adela Planas (Miss Visayas) and Herminia Cajulis (Miss Mindanao).

Two years after her reign, Lumen met Ramon Calleja Fernandez of Albay, who had been a top law student at the University of the Philippines and a classmate of future Philippine president, Ferdinand E. Marcos. In his U.P. days as an ROTC officer, Fernandez had been assigned to provide escort duties to Lumen and her court. But Fernandez’s had no real interest in the Carnival; after all, he had supported the candidate from the University of the Philippines.

AND THEN THERE WAS LUMEN. The light of the 1939 Carnival, Lumen married a legal luminary in the person of Ramon Fernandez, a classmate of Ferdinand Marcos at the U.P.

After graduating Valedictorian from law school, Fernandez took the bar and placed second to Marcos. He quickly proved his legal brilliance by winning an important case for a client who turned out to be Lumen’s aunt. This led to the fortuitous meeting that led to their romance and culminated in a wedding in Manila in 1941, just before the outbreak of World War II. The family relocated to the home province of Ramon Fernandez—in Albay—where they lived and waited it out through the Liberation. They had three children: Linda, Ramon Jr., and Pilar. A fourth child was conceived in 1949 but the young Lumen died tragically died in childbirth.

Atty. Fernandez took a second wife in the person of Lydia Aguilar Seva. He was appointed by Pres. Marcos as a Supreme Court Justice in 1982. He died in 1997.

85. 1939 PHILIPPINE EXPOSITION (Manila Carnival)

LIGHTS OUT. The last Carnival ended ominously with the start of the war in Europe. In just 3 years, the war would reach Manila, devastating the country and erasing every trace of our joyous Carnival days.

Interest in the Carnival began to wane in its last two outings, where attendance significantly dropped. After 21 years, the event was getting harder to sustain—and so was the interest of people who, it seemed, have seen it all. Sourcing funds was the biggest problem as corporate and private sponsors started to drop out and provincial participation wavered. There were other distractions for Filipinos like the threat of an impending War that was already raging in Europe. The mood, while upbeat, was also cautious—indeed, pistaym was about to end.

Three years of the Commonwealth had also started to change Filipinos’ mindset as they dreamt of the prospect of their own independence. In their most likely view, two decades of “celebrating Philippine-U.S. goodwill” was enough. Still to some others, the Carnival had just naturally ran its course. And so, in 1939, government decided to suspend its funding of the Manila Carnival to the dismay of the organizers.

Defending the cause of the 1939 Carnival, A.V.P. Hartendorp, an American editor wrote:

“ Jugglers and magicians, tight rope walkers, high divers and bareback riders, tumblers and contortionists, giants, dwarfs and fat ladies, clowns and pantaloons, chorus girls and hula-hula dancers, gypsies, fortune tellers and phrenologists, trained horses, 2 –headed calves, puppet shows, merry go rounds, ferris wheels and skating rinks, sparkling, beautiful girls behind black dominoes, dancing, romance, lights, music, noise, popcorn and peanuts—who is the man unburied, who is so dead that he can fail to respond to such things if only a year? And then there are the children. Ask the children whether they want the Carnival..”.

Not even this impassioned plea could make the government change its decision withdraw its funding for this event to be shifted to other nation-building priorities. The Carnival tradition which began in 1908, thus came to its glorious conclusion when the lights of the Manila Carnival—once touted as the greatest event in the Orient—blinked out for one last time.


ROSARIO FERRO, Miss Luzon 1938


BELEN DE GUZMAN, Miss Visayas 1938


MARINA LOPEZ, Miss Mindanao 1938