Tuesday, August 31, 2010

134. Carnival Mementos: TICKETS TO CARNIVAL SHOWS

The Manila Carnivals drew much of its income from the many shows that were patronized by visitors who came in droves to witness such special attractions. To gain access, one had to buy tickets at the entrance gate or from the takilya booths at the show venue like the Hippodrome or the Carnival Auditorium. Complimentary passes were also issued to select guests who had exclusive entrances to the shows.

The Hippodrome of the “Celestial City” was the venue for the many equestrian shows that were staple favorites of the fair. There were horse stunts, cavalry horses parades, pony rides and rodeo shows that were presented by Americans. But dogs also had their moments at the Carnival, when dog shows were incorporated in the program.

Also held at the Hippodrome were the musical shows put up by the Constabulary Band, then famous throughout Far East Asia. Cultural shows were offered by American Indians as well as other ethnic groups like the highland tribes of Mountain Province and the Moros. They shared centerstage with military men who displayed their skills in their synchronized drills and maneuvers.

Different venues hosted many sporting events but the Carnival Stadium was the site of a few sports competitions like indoor baseball, soccer and inert-scholastic track meet.

Eagerly anticipated were the circus shows, often featuring foreign acts. Filipino acrobats livened up the shows with such stunts as an aerial fall where a young lady descended to the floor from a height of 500 feet---held only by her hair. There were magic shows, Russian ballets and arcade games reminiscent of Coney Island’s. Tickets were bought for a ride on “La Rueda Ferris”, “El Carouselle” the Monkey Speedway, and “The Frolic”, which simulated an airplane ride.

Then there were the series of grand balls in which thousands of tickets were issued —Comparsas, Coronation Balls, Army and Navy Ball, Parejas Ball, Fancy Dress Ball, Stockholders’ Ball, Inter-Collegiate Ball, University Nights—extravagant events people went to, to see and to be seen. In 1921, ticket prices ranged from 20 centavos (for the children’s ball) to Php 6.00 to the Coronation Ball (good for a gentleman and 2 ladies).

As souvenirs of the Manila Carnivals, used tickets and stubs were kept by Carnival fans in scrapbooks or bundled with old letters. Some were kept between pages of books, ledgers and notebooks only to be rediscovered by ephemera collectors today, who prized them as historical collectibles.

133. Carnival Beauties: RIZALINA B. CALUMPANG, 1927 Miss Negros Oriental


The Calumpangs are one of the oldest families of Tanjay, which, at the time of the Spanish conquest was one of the more established and biggest settlements outside of Cebu. From this esteemed family came Rizalina Calumpang y Borromeo, Miss Tanjay of 1927, and who was eventually named as Miss Negros Oriental 1927. "Saling" was born on 30 December 1908, hence her Rizal-inspired name. Rare portraits of her show her distinct mestiza features, a result of the intermarriages of the Calumpangs with Spanish families (her paternal grandfather, Martin Calumpang had a Spanish-Irish friar for a father). She was one of the few Negrense beauties ever to participate in the national fair. She was sent to the 2nd National Beauty Contest of the 1927 Manila Carnival, but did not place. The crown went to an Escolarina, Luisa Marasigan of Tayabas, who represented Manila.

The beautiful “Saling” later became the wife of a dashing Baisanon, Fructuoso Montesa. Her descendants and relatives are renown personalities themselves, and they include the 1960 Miss Negros Oriental, Dr. Estela Guerrero Navarro (her husband is a 2nd cousin), Paquita Roces (the 2st Camay Girl), director Eddie Romero (her nephew), actress Chanda Romero (her grandniece), former Senator and Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Jose Calumpang Munoz-Romero (her 2nd cousin) and Dr. Jose Ma. Veloso Borromeo (a cousin, husband of Amparo Noel, 1912 Reina de Bisayas) The first and only Miss Negros Oriental bet to the national Carnival of Manila passed away at the age of 81 on 23 August 1990.

(Many thanks to Ron Jacob Abrasaldo Calumpang for the additional info on his relative, Miss Negros Oriental 1926 Rizalina Calumpang)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Camiling, a premiere town of Tarlac lying next to Pangasinan, was once a part of Paniqui. It was declared an independent town in 1838, with Don Vicente Galsim serving as the first gobernadorcillo. The town, with a name derived from the ‘kamiring’ tree that once grew abundantly there, is rich in history and tradition. Camiling is the birthplace of prominent Filipino personages such as U.N. Diplomat and General Carlos P. Romulo, U.P. President Onofre Corpuz and of course, Dr. Jose Rizal’s young love, Leonor Rivera.

In the 1930s, amidst a time of peace and plenty, Camiling held its own ‘petit carnivals’ in conjunction with the town fiesta that was held annually from May 6, 7, and 8. The first recorded provincial fair of Tarlac was held in 1927, same year as the town fair of Concepcion. Camiling followed suit in 1930, with a mini-fair that adapted certain successful elements of the grand national carnival in Manila.

Two pictures from that event show the lavishness of the petit fair, aping successfully the costumed pageantry of the Manila Carnival. Reigning queen over the festicities was Queen Pura I, a namesake of the very first Carnival royale of Manila (Pura Villanueva).

In 1933, the chosen Queen was a pedigreed beauty named Remedios Romulo Kipping. If her name sounds familiar, it is because the lovely Camiling Queen is a direct descendant of Leonor Rivera-Kipping. Leonor was a second cousin of Dr. Jose Rizal; they had met while he was but in her early teens. Unfortunately, their love did not prosper owing to Rizal’s departure for abroad to escape arrest and Leonor’s mother’s objection over her controversial suitor. Leonor was the inspiration of the character “Maria Clara” in Rizal’s “Noli” and “Fili” novels.

Leonor, instead, married the British engineer Charles Henry Kipping, whom she had met while staying in Dagupan. A lone child of their union, Carlos Jr., married Lourdes Romulo, sister of Carlos P. Romulo. They had four children namely, Carlos III, Linda, Araceli and Remedios, the future Queen of the Camiling Fair. Remedios was a student of Sta. Catalina de Manila, a school run by Dominican sisters, when she was elected to reign as the monarch of the fiesta. At her coronation, she was dressed as a Russian Empress.

The Camiling petit carnival that year had a grandiose mixed European-theme as these pictures show, reflecting the rise of this premiere commercial town, which, in prominence and affluence, ranked second only after the Tarlac capital.

Remedios later married Cesar Jimenez, with whom she had 6 children: Miguel, Meddie, Anna, Rita, Jimmy and Josefina.

131. Carnival Beauties: ROSARIO L. MANUEL, 1927 Miss Pampanga

ROSARIO MANUEL, Miss Pampanga 1927. A beauty of renown from Bacolor, made it to the national finals of the 1927 edition of the Manila Carnival.

True to its title as the “Athens of Pampanga”, Bacolor was not just a cradle of culture, it was also the seat of beauty, echoing the fabled reputation of Greece as the land of beautiful goddesses--Hera, Aphrodite and Athena—who figured in perhaps, the 1st documented beauty pageant of ancient times, as judged by Paris.

Bacolor belles like Luz Sarmiento, Paz Sanchez, Consuelo Santos and Elisa Gutierrez were regarded as the town muses in the mid 1920s-1930s. A more notable titled beauty however was Rosario Manuel, crowned Miss Pampanga 1927. She was the daughter of Generoso Manuel and Gliceria Lacsamana of Cabambangan, now the town’s poblacion.

With her victory, Rosario (Chayong) gained the right to represent the province in the 2nd National Beauty Contest sponsored by The Philippine Free Press. Doe-eyed Rosario went to Manila for the competition to make her bid for the Miss Philippines crown. It was a tall order for Rosario, as among the previous year’s winners was a kabalen—Socorro Henson of Angeles, who reigned as Manila’s Carnival Queen of 1926.

In the 1927 edition held from February 12 to 27, 28 beauties from around the country participated. Two of the contenders that year were Amelia Romualdez, Miss Leyte, who bore a striking resemblance to her first cousin, Imelda Romualdez and fellow Kapampangan, Luz Besa of Tarlac. The judges were reminded that “in the selection of the most beautiful ladies, (you) shall consider, besides physical beauty, the personal charms and the general refinement and composure of candidates”.

In the end, Luisa Marasigan, Miss Manila, won as Miss Philippines. Her court included Miss Luzon, Iluminada Laurel (Batangas), Miss Visayas, Lourdes Rodriguez (Cebu) and Miss Mindanao, Nora Maulana (Sulu). Even then, Rosario Manuel’s beauty was immortalized in a special commemorative booklet issued by Free Press magazine. Rosario Manuel settled back in Bacolor, remaining unmarried and adopting young relatives to serve as companions for the rest of her life.

Monday, August 16, 2010

130. Carnival Mementos: COMMEMORATIVE PROGRAMS

Collectors of commemorative items from world fairs and national expositions avidly seek out souvenir programs as these contain valuable information about the conduct of the event, schedule of activities, officers and members of the fair association and listings of major sponsors. Some programs were also profusely illustrated, and came with interesting advertisements as well as old photographs that give readers a glimpse of our past social history.

The Manila Carnivals had such programs, beginning with the 1908 national carnival. The slim volume, entitled “Programa Oficial del Carnaval de Filipinas en Manila, Islas Filipinas” has a listing of the schedules of the activities from 27 Feb. -3 Mar. 1908, including the land parades and the sporting competitions. The program is handsomely illustrated with the fabulous carrozas and floats of the different private companies and government bureaus participating in the first ever carnival of Manila. A lay-out of Wallace Field in Luneta is also featured as a convenient guide to the different booths, playing fields and the Hippodrome.

Subsequent programs were printed in color, such as the 1920 Victory Carnival and Exposition, held from 31 Jan.- 8 Feb., 1920. The souvenir program contained photos of newly-built infrastuctures—schools, bridges, municipal halls—as testaments to the march of progress in the Islands.

Programs also carried advertisements of corporate sponsors (Manila Hotel, Sanitary Steam Laundry, Firestone, Smith Bell & Co., San Miguel Brewery) and now-defunct business establishments like “Estrella del Norte”, “Gonzalo & Sons”, "Bazar Siglo XX" and “La Puerta del Sol”.

The Carnival was also a time to breastbeat, and so, important officials and members of the Manila Carnival Association—mostly government personalities—were featured in full page photos. The major characters of the Carnival—Governor Generals Leonard Wood, Francis Burton Harrison, perennial president Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Director Arsenio Luz—had regular appearances on commemorative programs.

Later programs were printed on cheaper paper stock. The 1935 program with its signature art deco design was of newsprint, with photographic reprints of the past Carnival Queens, making it a valuable documentary reference of past Carnivals.

Manila Carnival programs are very hard to come by, but a few have survived—recovered from old bauls and musty aparadors, they can either be found for bidding in online auction sites or sold as historical ephemera by antique dealers, great pictorial souvenirs of the most spectacular event ever held in our fair Islands.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


One of the last big provincial fairs in the flickering days of the national Carnival was held in the city of Davao starting on 25 June 1938. The Davao Carnival and Exposition lasted for two weeks and and the provincial capital pulled no stops in ensuring the carnival’s success. Just like the Manila Carnival, the Davao event also featured a brightly-lit carnival auditorium that was the central venue of many carnival activities.

Elsewhere, around the city, military, school and government bureau parades were held on the street, featuring officials in horses, marching bands and Boy Scouts.

When evening fell, the auditorium grounds came alive with masked balls, folk dances and other cultural presentations. Most awaited was the selection of the Queen of the Davao Carnival, won by local beauty, Angela Bangoy. One of her princesses was a Miss V. Cortez.

At her coronation, Queen Angela I donned the costume of a Muslim princess. Throughout the Carnival Days, the beautiful queen received prominent visitors who paid her homage, including Dna. Graciana vds. De Lugod and Mr. Jaime Gavina.