Of the Lerma Carnival of 1919, little is known of this obscure event except for two extant photos of the Lerma King & Queen by Vanity Pictures of Jose Nepomuceno. Jose Nepomuceno, a young photographer, made a living taking pictures of provincial carnival queens (he took the photo of Reina Nieves Gonzales of the 1919 Pangasinan Carnival, for instance) and would make a bigger name making films. The year these Lerma Carnival pictures came out, he was directing “Dalagang Bukid”, acknowledged as the first true Filipino film, adapted from Hermogenes Ilagan’s story and starring Atang de la Rama.
The Lerma Carnival Queen was a beautiful American mestiza by the name of Queen Helen I. The King was dressed in formal French court fashion complete with a powdered wig. The Lerma Carnival may have also been a corporate-sponsored event by Lerma Cabaret, a high society dance hall in Maypajo frequented by Americans and prominent Filipinos. The dance hall was a sponsor of the annual fair as seen from the house ad in this 1921 Manila Carnival souvenir program.