Wednesday, March 30, 2011

164. Carnival Beauties: ROSARIO J. IMPERIAL, 1927 Miss Albay

IMPERIAL BEAUTY. The second Miss Albay, Rosario Jaucian Imperial, belongs to a very influential family in the region known for their vast land holdings and prosperous abaca business.

Rosario Imperial y Jaucian, Albay’s bet to the 2nd National Beauty Contest belongs to the most affluent clan from Daraga with a most interesting history from both sides of her family. The earliest forebear of the Jaucians is a Christian Sangley from Molo, Iloilo whose grandson, Mariano, relocated to Daraga where he strated a family with a native Bicolana. His descendants made a fortune in abaca and, until the mid 20th century, the Jaucians were the biggest and richest landowning family in Bicolandia.

The Imperials, on the other hand, traces their roots to two brothers shipwrecked in San Bernardino Strait in the 1800s. After settling in Manila, they moved to Daraga where succeeding members married into the Jaucian family. Rosario is a product of this Jaucian-Imperial union, which consolidated the two families’ wealth, power and influence.

Well-known Imperials include the brothers Carlos (1907 Albay representative to the Philippine Assembly), Leoncio (senator, 1916-22) and Jose (Albay governor). To this list, we can now add Rosario, who ably represented her provincemates in the national quest for Miss Philippines.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

163. Carnival Beauties: ROSARIO F. REYES, 1912 La Princesa Zenza de Mindanaw

PRINSESA ZENZA DE MINDANAW, Rosario Reyes y Fernandez of Camiguin reigned in the Mindanano Court of the Queen of Mindanao, who happned to be her elder sister, Remedios. The Reyes sisters were known all over the island as enchanting beauties. Ca. 1912.

The 1912 El Dia Filipino del Carnaval was unique in several aspects especially with the selection of Carnival beauties that saw the crowning of the “Matrona de Filipinas”, Paz Marquez. She was attended by regional queens representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, who, in turn, had also had their own array of ‘damas y consortes’, making for a larger royal contingent that rivalled that of the first Carnival.

The Mindanao Queen who bore the fancy title “La Sultana Zoraida de Mindanaw” was Remedios F. Reyes of Camiguin Island whose sisters were just as beautiful. When she won, she called on her sisters to be part of her court. A younger sibling, Rosario Reyes, thus became one of her princesses, assuming the title, "Prinsesa Zenza de Mindanaw".

Born in Mambajao in 1893, Rosario was the daughter of Don Rafael Reyes and Dña. Rafaela Haro Fernandez, rich hacenderos who were well-known in the whole of Camiguin. All their daughters were schooled in the finest institutions; just like elder sister Remedios, Charing was sent to the Colegio de Sta. Catalina in Manila, then moved to the Colegio de Sta. Isabel for 3 years. To further expand her horizons, she and her sisters moved to Hong Kong and became an intern at the Convento Italiano for another 3 years, to pursue a course in Fine Arts.

She so excelled in painting, winning a medal for her work, “ Un Dia Invernal”, at the 1908 Exposicion de Bellas Artes held in Manila. Four years after, at the age of 19, she would grace the Queen of Mindanao court as one of its lovely muses. A write-up about her described her thus: Endearing is how we call Charing, and she is truly a woman of allure and attraction, all at the same time. (“Cariñosa la llaman CHARING y ella es verdaderamente una mujer seductora y attractive y al mismo tiempo”.)

Monday, March 21, 2011


HALA, BIRA BEAUTY. Queen Crisanta I, the carnival royale of the Kalibo Fair, dated March 1927.

Kalibo, the capital of the province of Aklan, was not to be outdone by its Visayan neighbors when it came to holding its own petit fair. Nearby Capiz had already started its own local carnivals as early as 1924, and Cebu’s own versions of the national event were the talks of the whole Western Visayas region. Besides, Kalibo has had a long tradition of rambunctious revelry and unparalleled merrymaking with its annual Ati-Atihan Festival held in honor of the Sto. Niño.

It was said that in the first Catholic Mass held in the island, ‘sangka libo’ Aeta natives attended, giving the town its name and starting the Ati-Atihan fiesta tradition. Held during the 3rd Sunday of January, this festival never fails to draw devotees, visitors and tourists from all over the Philippines.

And so, in 1927, Kalibo put up its first and only known carnival. Details of the petit carnival remain obscure, and we only have this sole photo as a visual document of that event held in March 1927. Also only the first name of the Carnival royal is known to us, the lovely “Queen Crisanta I”. It would be safe to assume that the people of Kalibo, with their penchant for merrymaking, pulled no stops in making sure that their carnival would be one of the best in the Visayas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

161. The Carnival Architects: MAPUA, BARRETTO, ARELLANO

The splendor of the Carnivals owes much to its fabulous edifices that did not fail to impress and awe—from the imposing Carnival Gate, the majestic Coronation Throne, the expansive Hippodrome to the provincial booths and displays that vied for the spectators’ attention. The first Carnival did not have a definitive visual theme, a merry mix of American and Philippine motifs, with inspirations drawn from mythology, European fantasy and royalty.

Committees were organized to handle and manage every aspect of the Carnival activities like Promotion, Program, Decoration, Tickets, Invitations, Sanitation, Security, Music, Dances, Sports Competition, Transportation and Masquerade Balls. The construction of the Carnival infrastructures fell into the hands of several key people. In charge of building the main edifices was Col. Mark L. Hersey, while the Hippodrome was put under Col. George Langhorne, who also multi-tasked as the King Consort of the Queen of the Occident. Mauro Prieto headed a team of that included Armando Campa, Manuel de Iriarte, Vicente Singson, C. Rodriguez and B. Roxas that designed and built the Carnival stage of 1908.

As the Carnivals became even more elaborate in the succeeding years, architects were hired to render their professional and expert services in designing the overall Carnival look, including its fabulous buildings and structures. Returning Filipino architects who were sent as pensionados to study in the beaux arts schools of the American East Coast, were the first to be employed for these all-important tasks. Three of them would go on to achieve national recognition and earn their well-deserved place as leading lights of Philippine architecture: Tomas Mapua, Carlos Barretto and Juan Arellano.

Tomas B. Mapua (b. 21 Dec. 1888/ d. 22 Dec. 1965) was the first registered architect of the Philippines who designed the 1917, 1920 and the 1921 Carnivals. The son of Juan Mapua and Justina Bautista, he was sent to America by the U.S. government for his high school and college education. He earned his Architecture degree from Cornell in 1911. For the 1921 Carnival, he executed the magnificent Magallanes Exposition Building, that had 5 high entrance arches surmounted by figural statues and the Main Entrance to the Carnival that had five expansive gateways book-ended with domed structures topped with fancy spires. Inside, the Throne Hall of the Auditorium featured an ornate central dome supported by columns, sheltering the throne of the Queen like a baldochine.

Mapua would go on to design and build the Manila City Hall, Manila Custom’s House, Agrifina Circle, the Post Office Building and the Leyte Capitol. In 1925, he founded the Mapua Institute of Technology (now Mapua University), which became the premier architecture and engineering school of the country.

Carlos Barretto holds the distinction as the first pensionado architect, having graduated three years earlier than Mapua, earning his degree in 1908 from the prestigious Drexel University in Philadelphia. He was the second (after Mapua) to be officially registered as an architect in 1921, as required by law that was passed by the National Assembly that year, one of 22 Filipinos.

Barretto designed the Carnival infrastructures of 1935, built on exuberant Art Deco motif that was the prevailing style of the Commonwealth years. After the Liberation, a group of Filipino architects that included Barretto, organized themselves into the Philippine Institute of Architects which proved to be of great help to the Philippines’ post-war recovery.

Juan Marcos G. Arellano (b. 25 April 1888/ d. 5 Dec. 1960) was the Tondo-born child of Luis Arellano and Bartola de Guzman. His first interest was painting, studying under Fabian de la Rosa and Lorenzo Guerrero. After graduating from Ateneo in 1908, he pursued architecture as a government scholar at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1911, before finishing his course at Drexel, where Barrettoo had finished a few years before.

Trained in Beaux Arts, Arellano worked briefly in New York before his return to to the Philippines. In 1922, he was named as the chief architect of the Manila Carnival, creating the grand neoclassic edifices that complemented the Graeco-Roman theme of the national fair. Arellano would go on to design the Metropolitan Theater in 1935, his best-known work, plus the Jones Bridge, the Legislative Building, the Bank of the Philippine Islands and the Malcolm Hall of the University of the Philippines and the U.S. Embassy. After his retirement in 1956, Arellano returned to painting, his first passion.

For at least 2 decades, the Carnival City of Manila was transformed by these accomplished architects, with their gift of design—creating landscapes of sheer fantasies and building gateways to new worlds of romance, royalty and revelry, fascinating feasts for all the nation’s eyes to see.