Sunday, July 17, 2011

178. A Program Description: The 1934 MANILA CARNIVAL

(Taken from the Manila Carnival Commercial and Industrial Fair Program, 27 January-11 February 1934)

All is set for the 1934 Carnival. With things beginning to look rosy in the business horizon, we look forward to a successful reign of Billiken in the Carnival City, both in point of attendance and in the variety of attractions in the big show. Well may we have such an elaborate arnival to welcome the approach of a better era in business which, in the words of some business prophets, “is just around the corner”.

This year’s Carnival will again run for sixteen days and nights in the beautiful cit of lights on Wallace Field, Manila. Starting on January 27, next, it will not end until the wee hours of February 12. It is the purpose to make of this festival a truly never-to-be-forgotten period of revelry mirths and laughters; of funs, frolic, dancing and all other sorts of amusements; of riotous colors and exquisite and fantastic shows and sights; of impressive and colorful pageants and parades’ in short, of all those things that are devoted to the sunny side of life.

Famous show places the world over have been ransacked for novelties for the coming Carnival. From all indications, the public will be treated to a series of new features in the line of shows that will long be remembered by Carnival visitors for their variety and gorgeousness. The management is bent on realizing, to the fullest extent, the principal aim of the association, which is to provide once a year a period of wholesome enjoyments which, people tired of the year’s daily grind, sorely need for their physical and mental uplift.

Now will these be all for the thousands of Carnival enthusiasts. Recreation places, eating parlors, hot dog stands, and beer and soft drinks gardens will be found in the different sections of the Carnival City ready to serve the public. The famous Carnival Auditorium where Miss Philippines hold court every night as Carnival Queen, also affords to the sensation seekers attractive and tantalizing spectacles noted for their gayety and glamour.

On the other hand, those inclined to be serious can find plenty of food for thought in the Army and Navy exhibits, in the display of arts and sciences of some bureaus or educational institutions, and in the Commercial and Industrial Fair section where made-in-the-Philippines products galore greet the eyes of the public. Here, the different provinces of the Philippine Archipelago vie with each other in presenting in a most effective manner their various industries and economic resources; while different government bureaus and offices also try to acquaint the public, through exposition and practical demonstration, with their varied activities intended to promote the well-being of the nation.

There will also be found there a horticultural show that is decidedly among the most interesting and highly instructive exhibitions in the entire Carnival, and the well decorated booths of local and foreign manufacturers where their respective wares are exhibited and sold to the milling throng that usually jam the industrial and commercial fair.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

177. Carnival Beauties: LILIA H. LOPEZ, 1930 Miss Philippines Candidate

LILIA H. LOPEZ of Iloilo, Candidate of Atalaya newspaper to the quest for Miss Philippines of the Manila Carnival 1930.

Lilia Lopez was born in 1912 in Iloilo, the child of sugarcane baron Vicente Villanueva Lopez and Elena Javelona Hofileña. The Lopezes were among the richest and most certainly, the most influential families from Old Jaro. Lilia grew up in affluence, with her siblings Nelly, Benito and Vicente. In 1928, the Lopezes built an imposing mansion aong Calle Iznart, naming it Nelly’s Gardens, after Lilia’s eldest sister. Lilia, however, spent much of her childhood years with a widowed aunt, Dña. Presentacion Lopez, at the RocaEncantada home, together with her first cousins Fernando and Eugenio Lopez. Lilia found a playmate in Julieta Lopez, an adoptive daughter of her aunt and late uncle, Don Benito Lopez. Julieta would become Miss Iloilo of 1927.

Lilia’s very own carnival moment would come three years later, in 1930, when she was sponsored by the Visayan publication Atalaya to compete in the Miss Philippines quest of that year’s Manila Carnival edition. Her campaign, however, was thwarted by a fellow IlonggaConsuelo Acuña, who was crowned as the 1930 Miss Philippines.

Still, Lilia had a great experience as one of the muses of the Carnival. Just 18, she also had her studies to think about as well as the admirers who had come to woo her. One of them was Gil Puyat, the son of furniture maker Gonzalo Puyat (The House of Puyat had furnished the lovely Lopez Mansion with their quality furniture).

But it was to Francisco Lopez Sison of Silay, Negros Occidental that Lilia gave her sweet yes. Their marriage resulted in 3 children: Lourdes, Elena and Francisco Jr. The couple also adopted three more kids. Lilia’s family inherited the Nelly Gardens and upon her death in 2000, her daughters assumed ownership of the house, which to this day, remains a symbol of Iloilo’s once and future glory.

176. 1926, Queen of the Pangasinan Carnival, POTENCIANA I

THIS BEAUTY HAS POTENTIAL. Queen Potenciana I, 1926 Pangasinan Carnival Queen with her King Consort, was a popular winner and her victory was even reported in Spanish newspapers.

Not since the 1919 Pangasinan Carnival has there been a more publicized provincial fair than the 1926 event held in Dagupan. After seven years, people still remember the mesmerizing beauty of the 1919 queen, Nieves Gonzales. Earlier in the year, the first titled Miss Pangasinan was sent off to compete in Manila for the Miss Philippines title, Corazon Sison.

Pangasinenses apparently could not get enough of their beautiful lasses so in 1926, a separate queen was selected for the Pangasinan Carnival—a charming belle whom we know only as Potenciana. “Su Majestad Potenciana I” was escorted by a handsome mestizo, and her victory was even reported in a Spanish publication, together with her coronation portrait.

The second Miss Pangasinan, Asuncion Gonzales, did not fare well in the 1927 Miss Philippines quest. It was only in 1930 that a Pangasinense beauty managed to land in the semi-finals of the controversy-marred 1930 Miss Philippines contest. Nieves Ocampo Benito landed in the Top 8, but missed the final cut after the pre-judging, which required the candidates to wear bathing suits. She later married her consort Cipriano P. Primicias Sr., who went on to become a Philippine senator.


Perhaps to make a point and remind every one that the Manila Carnivals is for the old and young alike, the beauty pageant—always the highlight of the national festivities—became the inspiration of some provincial groups to hold their own petit carnivals with children reigning as royalties.

The Charity Fairs (Feria de Caridad), organized by the government to raise funds for its charitable advocacies, actually popularized the concept of having children reign as “queens” during these much publicized 1920s events. Schools even held their own themed charity fairs, featuring little misses addressed as “Infantil Princesas y Reinas” and decked in court costumes and pompadour wigs. Then the Anti-TB Society launched its own “Queen of Mercy” quest where only children were eligible to join.

These children’s beauty pageants were immensely popular and became springboards for beautiful young misses to join the Manila Carnival Queen search later on. For instance, Alicia de Santos was chosen as Queen of Mercy in 1929; two years later, she competed in the 5th National Beauty Contest and emerged as Miss Luzon. Similarly, little Blanquita Opinion, Queen of Charity in the 1925 fund-raising program of Centro Escolar alumnas, joined the Miss Philippines search eight years later and won the title of Miss Visayas 1933.

The idea caught on in the different provinces, and soon, petit carnivals were being organized with literally, their own petit royalties. This example shows a provincial carnival held in Aparri in 1939, with an adorable Queen Teresita and her satin-caped escort, ruling over the fair’s festivities. The tradition continues today, instigated by TV shows which holds annual talent-cum-beauty pageants like “Little Miss Philippines”.