Sunday, May 31, 2009


The Manila Carnival of 1935 was held from 16 February to 3 March 1935. The honorary president was the Governor-General Frank Murphy and Manuel L. Quezon remained as President of the Philippine Carnival Association. Still serving as the Director-General is Arsenio Luz. Comprising the members of the Executive Committee were Hon. Jorge Vargas and Felipe Buencamino. Manila Mayor Juan Posadas Jr. was one of the many honorary vice-presidents that also included Speaker Quintin Paredes and Vice Gov. Joseph Hayden.

Carnival architect Antonio Barretto designed an art-deco inspired Auditorium and Main Gate, linear in form and much simpler than in the past years. As always, the 1935 “fun and folly fiesta” emphasized the commercial and industrial aspects of the affair, with attention being given to the exhibits of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. The three separate shows it held the past years were now combined into one big, complete exposition of commercial, agricultural and industrial products.

The Bureau of Commerce compartmentalized its booths to showcase Foodstuffs, Textile and Embroidery, Hats and Leather Goods, Chemical and Pharmaecutical Products, Wines and Liquors, Cigars and Cigarettes and Fancy Articles and Toys. Provincial exhibits were put up by 23 provinces, each touting their unique quality products—from Moro curios, shells and pearls to the best products derived from sugar, hemp, coconut, tobacco, corn and rubber.

All the fabulous elements of the previous fairs were retained, especially the four major parades, kicked off by the opening Grand Carnival Parade held on 16 February and participated in by costumed groups, athletes in uniform and masked revelers. The Educational and Health Parade, held on 20 February, presented “a graduated vista of the educational resources of the Philippines”, from primary to collegiate levels.

The Military Parade held in the afternoon of 25 February was one of the most extensive ever, comprising of the U.S. and Armed Forces, Philippine Constabulary and the ROTC of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, San Juan de Letran and the National Volunteers. Lastly, the Floral Parade, held on 1 March, was a replica of the floral pageants of the Old World and America, featuring floats and automobiles from different socio-civic, educational, business and government organizations decorated with flowers of all variety. The Queen and her Court rode on their own flower-bedecked cars escorted by ladies on horseback. As was the custom, people showered the passing beauties with flowers, who in turn threw flowers at the crowds.

The much awaited grand balls also unfolded with the Billiken’s Ball on the first day of the fair, in honor of the stockholders. Then followed the Princess of the Art Night where the Miss Philippines candidates were presented. An open contest for the Best Impersonation of Mae West, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Maurice Chevalier and Laurel and Hardy was held to the delight of the crowd. The other balls were the Pan Pacific Ball (Feb. 18), Princess of Commerce Night (Feb. 19), Comparsas Ball (Feb. 20), Coronation Ball (Feb. 21), Bohemian Ball (Feb. 22), Inter-Collegiate Ball (Feb. 23), Children’s Fancy Dress Ball (Feb. 24) and a Fashion Show Night.

The Carnival audiences were treated to a dazzling, dizzying array of shows, the likes of which no one has seen before. The spectacular Russian Flying Ballet, starring Mlle. Rogovska, the “young Pavlova”, thrilled the crowd with their balletic leaps and superb choreography. Disney mascots led by “Mr and Mrs. Mickey Mouse” and the awesome snake charmer Mex Tarzan, lent color and entertainment to the fair. Mr. Q., a leading hypnotist from San Francisco, mesmerized local citizens when he put to sleep a young girl before their disbelieving eyes. Alexander the Mystic also staged a vaudeville show that demonstrated his “supernatural” powers. Marjorie Van Camp’s Pig Show featured an amazing display of porcine talent, in which trained pigs showed off their boxing skills.

Over at the fairgrounds, heart-thumping rides were provided by a giant Merry Go-Round, The Whip, the swinging Merry Mix-Up and the Leaping Lena. Other exciting rides were the Dodgems (auto ride), the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Caterpillar. The Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation conducted the usual national sports championships that included sports like Tennis, Gymnastics, Socces, Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball, Wrestling, Swimming, Track and Field, Sipa and even Folk Dancing.

The brilliant Fireworks Display, presented by Rusca, capped the 1935 Manila Carnival festivities with a grand exhibition of fireworks program bearing fancy titles as Tutankhamen and the Magic Fan, Bouquet of Fancy Jewelry and Niagara Falls—in which “Manila Carnival 1935” was written in lights with Carnival colors. The Grand Finale featured the lighting of 5,000 firecrackers in a continuous bombardment, a most spectacular finish to the greatest show of the Orient

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