Wednesday, September 24, 2008

29. 1913, Reina de Mindanao, INOCENCIA CABATO

1913 QUEEN OF MINDANAO. Inocencia Cabato of Zamboanga.

28. 1913, Reina de Visayas, ANA S. PALANCA

QUEEN OF VISAYAS. Ana S. Palanca, of Coron, Palawan.

Anita Sandoval Palanca comes from the Sandoval family of Coron, Palawan and Iloilo. She was only 15 and a student of Sta. Catalina College in Manila when she was crowned 'Reyna ng Visayas 1913'.  She eventually married Dr. Guillermo Fernandez from Dagupan, Pangasinan, a doctor working in Culion. They had 3 children: Guillermo Jr.--better known as the late interior designer, Wili Fernandez who married award-winning author Doreen Gamboa; Vicente, who became a municipal secretary of Coron (married to Rebecca Dabuit) and Francisco (a farmer, married to Leticia). Mrs. Palanca-Fernandez spent most of her life in Coron, Palawan.

Monday, September 22, 2008

27. 1913, Reina de Luzon, JULIA OTERO ARCEO

1913 MANILA CARNIVAL QUEEN OF LUZON, Julia Arceo y Otero of Batangas, one of the most beautiful but tragic figures ever to animate the annual Philippine carnivals.

1913 saw the introduction of another innovation in the annual Manila Carnivals. Three beauties of equal rank, representing the major regions of the Philippines were chosen, instead of one supreme royal: Reina de Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. But still, most attention from the press and the crowds gravitated towards the Queen of Luzon, who was unofficially tagged as the Queen of the 1913 Manila Carnival.

THE YOUNG JULIA. A budding beauty at the Colegio de la Concordia.

Julia Arceo y Otero had a life of extremes—she was the unica hija of Sixto Arceo and Maria Otero of Batangas, who, despite their modest station in life, managed to give Julia a good education at the Colegio de la Concordia. Her father, an officer of the Manila Railroad Company in Tutuban, doted on her, often using the budding beauty as a subject for his photography hobby.

HER FATHER'S DAUGHTER. Railroad executive Sixto Arceo dabbled in photography, and he would often use his daughter as a willing subject.

It was in her school that the 18 year old Julia attracted the attention of the organizers of the Carnival. They overlooked her humble background (relative to her more socially-privileged predecessors) and elected her as the Queen of Luzon on the basis of sheer beauty. er co-winners were Ana Palanca (Queen of the Visayas) and Inocencia Cabato (Queen of Mindanao).

OFFICIAL PICTURE OF LUZON'S QUEEN, as Julia appeared on the cover of El Renacimineto in her coronation finery. She wears a fabulous tiara made by Crispulo Zamora.

It was Queen Julia II however, who took center stage at the coronation rites, radiant in an elegant terno and crowned with sunburst-topped tiara designed by Crispulo Zamora. Indeed, Julia’s reign as a carnival queen was a joyous moment in her young life, basking in the limelight and catching the attention of a number of admirers.

CROWN ONA CLOWN. julia donned this costume of a French pierrot--an iconic symbol of the carnival--shortly after the coronation rites.

Among these was a handsome Capizeno, Vicente Villaruz, a pharmacist-chemist whom she married in 1915. Julia’s life of sorrow began soon after she and Vicente begot three sons. The youngest died when Julia accidentally fed him formula made from powdered medicine, instead of milk—an irrevocable mistake that haunted the mother no end. She sank into a deep depression.

In time, Vicente, too passed away, leaving Julia to fend for his remaining kids. But, despite her mental state, she soon found new love in his late husband’s friend--Jose de la Cuesta, also a fellow-pharmacist from Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Perhaps to leave her painful past behind, the couple moved to Laoag to start life anew and to bear more children. They were to have two daughters and 4 more sons.

Grief continued to haunt Julia, as her first daughter died, followed by her husband. Her in-laws took over the raising of her children and another kind relative took her to live with her in her Quiapo house. No sooner had she settled when a fire engulfed her relative’s home which nearly killed her.

HER CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Julia's official coronation pictures as captured by the leading salon photographers of her time.

As a result, Julia’s nervous breakdown grew worse, a progressive condition from which she never recovered. She retreated to herself, often crying, dazed and lost in tears. Her last years were spent with sons Jose de la Cuesta and Martin de la Cuesta at a house in Blumentritt, Sta. Cruz, Manila, finding peace and comfort from years of personal agonies on 18 November 1975.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The 1913 edition of the Manila Carnival opened with a lot of speculations, with many predicting that the pomp and grandeur of the past Carnival outings can not be duplicated by the Carnival Committee this year. Sure enough, when the gates of the Carnival opened, there was no Auditorium or stage—traditional centerpiece of the Manila Carnivals where all-important events—like the coronation of the Carnival royalties—took place.

But the absence of an auditorium did not prevent the Committee from staging a noteworthy event, for in 1913, the hallmark of the Carnival proved to be the “Dia Filipina”, a special ‘Philippine Day’ that aimed to showcase the commercial progress as well the richness of the country’s culture. This objective found full expression in the most lavish, most extravagant float parades with a record-breaking number of participants from various sectors of the government and the private industry. To fuel excitement and attract participation, cash rewards were given out for the most creative floats that awed the Carnival spectators no end.

The ‘procesion comercial’ (commercial parades) were held on a Saturday weekend, and they began from Meisik in Tondo all the way to the Luneta. Not just carrozas were dressed up for the parade, but also automobiles, and many observed that the fabulous decorations rivaled those seen in major cities and towns of Europe and America.

Leading the Saturday parade where the police troops of Manila, smart in their khaki uniforms. The float of the Carnival mascot, El Diablo Rojo (The Red Devil) followed next, and it was so designed as to show the large devil stooping down to cover the Queens of the Carnival. The Constabulary Band came in next, playing military airs and thereafter, the float of the City of Manila, the music band of La Paz y Buenviaje ( a leading cigar firm), the airplane-shapedfloat of the Union Truck Company, La Germinal float, San Miguel Brewery float, Sanitary Steam Laundry float, Normal School float and a host of gaily-decorated automobiles from Mr. Warner Tivan, Auto Palace and Berry’s.

The next day, the Carnival crowds were treated to a more spectacular parade as more participants from various socio-civic associations, schools and universities joined in the festivities. The parade kicked-off with twelve marshalls at the helm, a marching band from Meralco, soldiers and constables on foot and the committee members of ‘Dia Filipina’. There followed a magnificent golden float in the shape of a gondola, riding the ocean waves and bearing the Queens of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

There was a hitch however, as this float broke down in front of San Sebastian Church and the royals and their courts had to transfer in two cars and caruajes to complete the parade.

Trailing the royal float were other minor beauties from various Manila districts and several school battalions from Liceo, Instituto Burgos and San Pablo. A motley group of civic associations from Sta. Cruz, San Lazaro and Sta. Clara like Ang Sulo, Lakas ng Mahihirap, Biglang Awa, Hijos de Siglo, Mithi ng Katalinuhan, fielded delegates.

At the end of the parade, the winners of float contest were announced, with corresponding cash awards. The Best School Battalion was won by Liceo de Manila, Best Banner: Kap. Kawanggawa (Confederacion de Sta. Cruz), Best Float: Bureau of Public Works, Best Automobile: Union Truck, Best Carriage: Normal School, Best Motorcycle: Union de Ciclistas, Best Commercial Float: La Paz y Buenviaje, Best Student Float: Tuna Alegre, Best in Uniform: Habag Kapatid, Best Women’s Group: Liga de Mujeres, Best Band: Meralco, Best School Participation: Instituto de Burgos and Most Number of Delegation: Paaralang Artes y Oficios.

25. 1912, Reina del Dia Americana, MATTIE MAY LAW

REINA DEL DIA AMERICANA DEL CARNAVAL 1912. Mattie May Law, American Day Queen.

The 1912 Manila Carnival started the trend of having a “Philippine Day” (Dia Filipinas) and an “American Day” (Dia Americana) in its schedule of activities. The muse of Americans was Mattie May Law, an American resident. Little is known about her. Unlike the 1908 Occidental Queen who shared queenship of the Carnival, the American Day Queen limited her engagements to a week-end of festivities dedicated to showcasing America’s best in the Carnival.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

24. 1912, Reina de Mindanao, REMEDIOS FERNANDEZ REYES

1912 REINA DE MINDANAO, Remedios Reyes y Fernandez of Camiguin Island. 3rd princess to the 1912 Carnival Queen, Paz Marquez.

It was said that the most beautiful girls from Mindanao came from Mambajao, in the island of Camiguin. It was here that Remedios Reyes was “discovered”, when Gov. Gen. W. Cameron Forbes, accompanied by Bureau of Health director Dr. Felipe Arenas, went on an inspection tour of Mindanao. In Mambajao, the group was feted by Don Rafael Reyes whose late wife Rafaela Fernandez, was a relative of Dr. Arenas. The Reyes daughters, noted beauties of the town, were all in attendance.

SU MAJESTAD, ZORAIDA DE MINDANAW. Srta. Remedios Reyes, handpicked for the Mindanao queenship by W. Cameron Forbes.

As it was also Carnival season at that time, Gov. Gen. Forbes handpicked Remedios—the youngest of the Reyes children—to reign as Queen or Sultana of Mindanao. Rafaela died while Meding was only 9 years old, so she was left in the care of her aunt in Manila, Dna. Candida Wright. She was sent to study at the Italian Convent in Hong Kong where she learned to speak British English.

THE MINDANAO COURT, in authentic Muslim royal regalia.

GRAND SULTAN, Sr. Baldomero Pelaez was the official King Consort of Mindanao Queen, Remedios Reyes. He comes from a family that includes the statesman and politician Emmanuel Pelaez.

As Sultana Zoraida de Mindanaw, Remedios assembled her court which consisted of her sisters (sister Rosario was Princesa Zenza de Mindanaw) and cousins. She was escorted by the Grand Sultan, Sr. Baldomero Pelaez. She was a lifelong friend of Amparo Noel, Queen of the Visayas, whom she knew long before the Carnival.

QUEEN OF MINDANAO, Remedios Reyes in her Filipiniana finery.

Unlike previous queens, Remedios did not marry after her reign. It was only 10 years after that she wed Capt. Jesus Medina, a ship officer from Isabela but with Spanish ancestry. Married in Manila, they settled in Vermont St. in Malate. The union resulted four children: Guillermina, Gloria, Mario and Rene.

During World War II, the family was suffered ed when Remedios was hit by shrapnel at the height of the siege of Manila which caused her to be hospitalized for 7 months. A decade after, in 1955, she died of cancer, ahead of her husband.

23. 1912, Reina de Visayas, AMPARO BENITEZ NOEL

1912 REINA DE VISAYAS, Amparo Noel y Benitez of Carcar, Cebu, 2nd princess of the 1912 Carnival Queen, Paz Marquez.

Amparo Noel y Benitez, was the undisputed Reina de Visayas in the court of Paz Marquez, who reigned as the 1912 Matrona de Filipinas in that year’s Carnival. It is interesting to note that Paz Marquez also married a Benitez later in her life. Amparing, as she was called, had a renowned beauty which she inherited from her mother, Maria Benitez. She was a famous Espanola beauty in her time, who had married Vicente Noel of Carcar, an idyllic town less than an hour’s drive from Cebu.

BISAYA BEAUTY. Amparing in her official corontaion portrait, resplendent in authentic Visayan garb.

Nyora Amparing came second in a brood of 13 children.Her beauty has been described as “almost perfect”, with a patrician nose, dreamy (“mapungay”) eyes, delicately-shaped mouth, fine cheekbones and very fair skin.

VISAYAN QUEEN, with her prince consort Juan Orbeta and her 6 court attendants.

At the coronation night, Amparo had Juan Orbeta, a dashing Spanish mestizo. also of Cebu as her escort. Three years later, Amparo married Dr. Jose Ma. Borromeo, (d. 1959), who was 8 years her senior. Dr. Borromeo apparently had the vote of Amparing’s parents. Of this union, 7 children were born: Milagros, Rosario Josefina, Dolores, Ramon, Jose Jr., Manuel and Luis.

WEDDED BLISS. Amparing and husband, Dr. Jose Ma. Borromeo, with two daughters, Milagros and Rosario Josefina.

Ramon, the eldest son, also became a doctor, an orthopedist of repute, and married another national beauty, Myrna Sese Panlilio, the 1st Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1964, of San Fernando, Pampanga. (Two other brothers also married Kapampangans). In her later years, she would suffer from diabetes and survived several surgeries performed no less than by his son, who has also since passed away.

22. 1912, Reina de Luzon: PACITA BANTUG DE GUZMAN

1912 REINA DE LUZON, Pacita De Guzman y Bantug of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. 1st princess of Manila Carnival Queen, Paz Marquez.

The Reina de Luzon who ranked next after Paz Marquez was, by some amazing circumstance, also nicknamed Paz—and also one of the products of the Philippine Normal School, in the same circle of “Dormitory Girls”. Born in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, she was the daughter of Santiago de Guzman and Feliciano Bantug.

LADY OF LUZON. Crowned Luzon Queen, Pacita de Guzman was also a member of the "Dormitory Girls", who were educated under the American system and who were favored to attend Malacanang functions.

Pacita finished her Education course at the University of the Philippines in 1912 and thereafter taught at the Manila North High School, the future Arellano High School. She handled a Biology class, but because of her musical background (she studied voice under Maestra Jovita Fuentes), she was appointed directress of the glee club. She directed operettas, presented musical numbers for school events and even had a number of future celebrity-students under her: actors Fernando Poe Sr., Carmen Rosales, Rogelio de la Rosa and radio/broadcast personalities Koko Trinidad and Luz Baluyot.

PACITA IN HER PRIME. Taken in the 1920s, when Pacita was a teacher at the Manila North High School. There, she made her mark as the director of the glee club.

In the early ‘30s, Pacita took a leave from teaching and traveled to Europe for further musical and language studies. It was in Marseille, France that she married Ramon Silos (the younger brother of Claro M. Recto’s first wife). The couple were childless. She continued teaching at Arellano High until the war, when she and other Maryknoll sisters were taken and incarcerated in Fort Santiago for 3 months. She was never the same after the war.

She lived with her widowed sister, Matilde in the late ‘40s and it was there that she was felled by a stroke. She never recovered and passed away in June 1956.

21. 1912, Queen of the Manila Carnival, PAZ JURADO MARQUEZ

1912 MANILA CARNIVAL QUEEN. Paz Marquez y Jurado of Tayabas, Quezon. She went on to become one of the leading lights in Philippine writing in English.

Once again in 1912, the Manila Carnival was staged with attendant fanfare and excitement. That year, the royal crown went to Paz Marquez y Jurado, an accomplished woman from a well-known family from Tayabas, and one of the first to be educated under the American system.

LA MATRON DA FILIPINAS. 'Dormitory Girl' Paz Marquez was one of the first graduates of the University of the Philippines.

Born in 1894, Paz was the second of 12 children of Gregorio Marquez and Maria Jurado, herself, a beauty queen in her hometown, Magsingal, Ilocos Norte. Maria was often referred to there as “La Estrella del Norte”. Paz went to local schools and attended Tayabas High School for her secondary education.

THE AUDITORIUM OF THE 1912 MANILA CARNIVAL. At Wallace Field, Luneta Park. site of the coronation of Paz Marquez.

As was the case with landed families, Paz was sent off to study at the Normal School in Manila, established by Americans. She stayed in the school dormitory under the watchful eye of their den mother, a certain Mrs. Burton, a widow of a U.S. senator. Her “Dormitory Girls”, as the elite group came to be known, learned English, adopted American ways and were trained social skills and proper deportment. The group, whose members also count Socorro (her sister), Francisca Tirona (her future sister in law) and Pacita de Guzman, became quite popular and were often invited to the Malacanang social functions hosted by Gov. Gen. W. Cameron Forbes, a bachelor.

Little did the members know that that they were being eyed for the queenship of the Carnival. But it was the slim 18 year old Paz—who, at 5’4” stood taller than the other girls—who was singled out for her beauty, brains and deportment to wear the prestigious title of “Matrona de las Filipinas” of the 1912 Carnival.

PAZ BE WITH YOU. Svelte, fair, tall and pretty--Paz was the top choice for the queenship, plucked from Mrs. Burton's 'Dormitory Girls'.

Her father, Don Gregorio was not pleased with the idea, and it took the Carnival Committee to convince him to give his consent. He acquiesced and the first thing he did was to write a congratulatory letter to his daughter: “Quiero ser el primero para render homenaje a los pies de la Reyna de Filipinas “ (I wish to be the first to render homage at the feet of the Queen of the Philippines).

The appointment of the Queens in the 1912 edition of the Carnival was significant in that the selected beauties were really from the regions they represented, and not according to their placements in the ballot count. Queen Paz was thus attended to by Reyna de Luzon, Pacita de Guzman (Nueva Ecija), Reyna de Visayas, Amparo Noel (Cebu) and Reyna de Mindanao, Remedios Reyes (Camiguin). They were also the first set of queens to wear national and regional dresses, as opposed to the European-influenced wardrobes of the past Queens.

THE 1912 ROYAL COURT. Paz, surrounded by a bevy of princesses, dressed in traditional Filipina costumes, a first in the carnival.

After her reign, it was business as usual for Paz, going back to her books to finish her Liberal Arts course at the U.P. She spoke sparingly of this moment in her life, even denying the fact that she was once a national beauty queen. She managed to have herself excluded from the souvenir programs of later Carnivals, which had pictures of past queens (only her “damas” were featured.)

Going back to her first love—literary writing—she founded founded Women’s Home Journal, the first women’s magazine in the country in 1919. One of the columnists was Leonarda Limjap, the 1908 Carnival winner who gave up her crown.

Paz is well-known for authoring the first Filipino modern English-language short story--Dead Stars—published in the Philippine Herald in 1925, now considered a classic in Philippine literature. She also became a professor of composition and English at the University of the Philippines . Later, she would set up St. John’s Academy in San Juan, together with her sisters.

It was at the U.P. that Paz met Francisco Benitez, also a former student of Normal School and a pensionado sent to study at the United States. Francisco's father, Higino, had been one of the original signers of the Malolos Constitution. Tasked with organizing the university’s College of Education, Francisco started the publication of “The Philippine Journal of Education”, which Paz would eventually edit.

PAZ AND FRANCISCO AT THEIR WEDDING. 20 year-old Paz and Dean Francisco Benitez of Laguna, a government pensionado, were a perfect match. Dean Benitez became a leading educator of the country, helping establish the College of Education at U.P.

It is interesting to note that Francisco’s brother, Conrado, married Francisca Tirona, a former “Dormitory Girl” like Paz, and founder of the Philippine Women’s College in 1919. Thus, in 1914, when Paz got married to Francisco, everybody agreed at the compatibility of the partnership.

The couple had 4 children—Francisco jr., Virginia, Roberto and Vicente Rafael. Francsico died of a sudden heart attack in 1951. Paz continued to edit “The Philippine Journal” till her late 80s. Paz died in 1983. The annual Paz Marquez-Benitez Lectures honor her memory by focusing on the contribution of Filipina writers to Philippine Literature in English. Her biography, “Paz Marquez Benitez: One Woman’s Life, Letters, and Writings” was published by her daughter, Virginia, in 1995.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Manila Carnival of 1911 went on as scheduled on 21 February 1911, with the usual industrial and commercial exhibits of products as well as the various sports and athletic competitions.

This year’s affair was Queen-less, but this did not dampen the collective excitement of Filipinos, Americans and their guests as the Carnival centerpiece were the exhilarating exhibition flights—a first in the Philippines.

THAT DARING YOUNG MAN ON THE FLYING MACHINE. Lt. Bud Mars, a flight trainer, showed off his flying skills at the 1911 carnival and merited front page news on The New York Times.

As part of a Pacific exhibition tour, aviators James C. “Bud” Mars and Capt. Thomas Baldwin flew their bi-planes 5,000 feet above the the carnival tower, to the sheer delight of the crowds. For his daring, record-breaking performance, J.C. Mars was awarded a medal and valuable gifts.

FLIP AND TUMBLE. American avitaors wowed the crowd at the auditorium with their aerial stunts 5,000 feet up. The show spectacle was a first in the Philippines.

Also making an appearance at the 1911 event was Brig.Gen. Frederick Funston, the newly-installed commander of the Department of Luzon, who received a warm welcome from members of the Army.

GENERAL ATTENDANCE. Frederick Funston (1865-1917) is largely known as the general responsible fro the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in March 1901.

The 1911 Manila Carnival officially ended on March 4, and “The New York Times” declared in a front page report that it was Manila’s most successful Carnival by far..”profitable from a financial standpoint and also of advantage industrially”.


AFLOAT ON CLOUD 9, A government float--The Bureau of Lands- participates in the much-awaited annual carnival carroza parade.

Information is scarce about the staging of the 1910 Manila Carnival, leading many to believe that no Carnival was held in that year. In fact, “The Beauty Book”, the pioneering ‘80s book on Philippine beauties authored by Doris Nuyda affirms this. However, “The Philippine Islands, Book II”, written by Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, noted the holding of an exhibition in 1910, riding on the crest of the Manila Carnival:

“In 1910, the government took advantage of the popular gathering at Carnival time, to establish an industrial exhibition which was held on land adjacent to, but outside the carnival grounds. Merchants arranged alluring displays of their wares, provinces vied with each other in making creditable exhibits, and the Bureau of Education displayed the work of trade schools and the produce of the agricultural schools.

Other bureaus of the government, such as Agriculture, Forestry, Navigation, Public Works, Printing and the Weather Bureau made exhibits to inform the public of the work that was being done for them by their government and the manner in which the money derived from the taxation was being used for their benefit. The whole movement was highly popular with the Filipinos and aroused much favorable editorial comment in both the American and Filipino papers.”

Similarly, the book, “Colonial Pathology” by Warwick Anderson, points out that “the most significant aspect of the Carnival of 1910 was the presence of soldiers who mounted troop parades and military drills. Upon reviewing the 8,000 troops, W. Cameron Forbes was moved to write the Secretary of War. “The military processions turned out to be a beautiful affair”, Forbes declared, “ beautifully carried out, and I think most opportune!”.

Whether what was held in 1910 was a Carnival or an Industrial Exhibition, it still was obviously a grand, high-profile event that aroused national interest. Further research is needed to make a definite conclusion as to the exact nature of the 1910 spectacle.

Recently, this 1910 Philippine Carnival Program came to my possession, irrefutable proof that indeed, there was a 1910 Carnival edition--held in Manila from Feb. 5-14.: