Monday, December 20, 2010

151. A Program Description: THE 1910 MANILA CARNIVAL, part II

The Carnival of 1910, in presenting itself to the Orient and the rest of the world, needs no more substantial guaranty of success than the truly wonderful record left behind by the Carnivals of 1908 and 1909. Even after the experience of two years, this institution seems to be definitely and firmly established in the Philippines and its fame has spread to all parts of the world. Its phenomenal growth and development to date indicate that its future possibilities are unlimited, but even now Manila may justly lay claim to the possession of the greatest attraction in the Far East.

In any one of the numerous departments forming this great production may be found enough of interest to far more than justify the effort involved in a journey to Manila from almost any part of the world. The industrial feature, the athletic meet, the wild tribes exhibit, the display of curiosities and novelties, the street pageants, the hippodrome, the coronations, the masked balls, the open-air performances, the pyrotechnic display, the fantastic ceremonies, the races, the live-stock and machinery exhibits, and a great variety of other attractions, all working together as parts of a machine-like whole, transform the quite, staid, dignified Manila of history and tradition into a whirlwind of fascinating activity.

Certain features, beautiful in their execution, features of strength and skill, are less appreciated when presented in an immense open air amphitheatre. This year’s Hippodrome, as will be seen by the program, has been greatly enhanced and made more interesting than ever before.

By reference to the detailed program, it will be seen that one of the principal and, it might be added, the most important feature of this year’s carnival, will be the industrial exhibition. The display shown therein have been gathered from all over the Philippines. It has become customary to look upon the Philippine Carnival as a mere vehicle to furnish mirth and amusement to the populace. While this is to a great extent true, it must be borne in mind that the primary object of the carnival is to promote in every possible way the natural resources, arts and handicrafts of the Philippines, and it must be said that, to a large extent, the two carnivals which have already accomplished this.

This year’s industrial display, it is believed, will do much toward supplying the outside world, as well as the people in the Philippine Islands, with real information of a most valuable nature on these points. Visitors to the carnival will be well repaid by making a careful and leisurely inspection of all that is to be seen in the industrial section.

The great land parades which have been features of the carnivals already held will be repeated this year on a larger and more gorgeous scale than ever. For the first time in the history of the Philippine Islands, foreign troops will march with the American military forces. The Japanese Consul-General arranged to have a detachment from the cruisers now in the harbor represent his country and the sailors and marines from the British Cruiser. Monmouth will represent Great Britain.

In the Carnivals already held, the costumed groups, especially the famous Red Devils have attracted great attention, and this year, this feature will be greatly enlarged upon. There will be Green Devils and there will be Yellow Devils and there will be jesters from the Columbia Club, and other organizations will present features in this line which will not be made known until their actual appearance at the carnival city.

The sports at this carnival, as will be seen from the detailed program, will be very interesting. Man very important events will be held, among which will be the Gun Club tournament. The polo games will be between players from the local teams, the army teams and teams representing the very best polo talent from Hongkong and Singapore, and will be hotly contested.

It would require more space than would fill several books of this size to give in detail all of the many features of this carnival. The program of events, as they will be held from day to day, is presented on the other pages and the attention of visitors is invited thereto. Enjoy yourselves.

150. A Program Description: THE 1910 MANILA CARNIVAL, part I

The festival that is now being celebrated is the third annual Philippine Carnival. The Carnival has, in some respects, become to be looked upon as “Manila’s show”. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the Carnival is held in Manila, and all of the men who form the working force of the carnival organization live in the capital city of the Philippines, it has always been realized that were it not for the great support furnished the carnival association by the provinces, it would be out of the question to even attempt a festival of the breadth and scope of the one which is now being celebrated.
Then, too, while it has been the principal aim of the Philippine Carnival Association to furnish an annual carnival that would be a credit to the whole Philippine Archipelago, they have not forgotten that an institution of this nature is bound in time to become so well known that it will be looked upon as one of the biggest features of life in the Far East. Already its fame has gone to the furthermost corners of the earth. The first carnival made Manila well known as a provider of first class entertainment, and the second carnival spread the fame of the Philippines throughout Europe, the United States, the Orient and Australasia. Hundreds of inquiries have been received during the last year for information regarding the fiesta now in progress.

Advertising matter of a very high class has been widely distributed. The Red Devil trade-mark of the Philippine Carnival is now familiar from Manila to Vladivostock, Yokohama to Calcutta, and from San Francisco to London, and Honolulu to the Antipodes. This has had the effect it was intended it should have. Last year, the Carnival Association entertained a fair number of foreign visitors who were attracted by the fame of the initial carnival, and this year, we have more visitors from the outside world than it was even hoped would come.
In the United States and Europe, the carnival is a product of gradual evolution which comes into existence only after the social, political, industrial and commercial institutions of a country have become highly developed. At such a point the development of the country, and as a means whereby, during a certain season, the maximum of pleasure may be enjoyed by the entire population, the carnival serves a most important purpose.

In the Philippines, however, with its undeveloped institutions and confronted as it is by the great problems of creating the very fundamentals of national, social and commercial existence, the need for such an institution, solely as a means of amusement and pleasure will not exist for many years.

In spite of this, and entirely apart from its important purposes of practical utility, Manila’s carnival in point of interest, amusement and novelty, may very properly be classed with the famous shows of the world. Indeed, it is doubtful if ever in the history of the modern world there had been crowded within the limits of a period of less than a fortnight a series of entertainments so striking in their character and so nearly representative of the highest grade of amusement from all parts of the globe. International expositions have been held in other sections of the world and into these much of the local color of different countries has been infused; but it has remained for the dreamy, mysterious Orient, with its world of wonders not to be found outside, to discover the real secret of a carnival of the nations.

The fact is not remarkable when considered in the light of conditions existing in the Philippines. When, in 1907, the first Philippine carnival was projected, and its plan and purposes placed before the Secretary of War, now the President of the United States, no difficulty was experienced in impressing upon him the fact that among the institutions operating in this country toward carrying out the proper intentions of the United States Government, none might reasonably be expected to be productive of more valuable results than this. From that date until the present time this interest in the success of the carnival has been active and substantial.

The directors of the Carnival Association in carrying out their plans have had access to every facility possessed by the military and insular governments. Special arrangements with the War Department have placed at their disposal for use in presenting the different gorgeous spectacles forming the central feature of the display a class of talent the securing of which in any other part of the world would be a practical impossibility. In both of the carnivals which have been held, the soldier and the sailor have been conspicuously represented, particularly in connection with the great hippodrome which formed the most striking feature f these carnivals, and whose third appearance is now with us.

Of even greater value has been the assistance furnished by the Civil Government. This has consisted in part of substantial cash appropriations for the support of the institution and in part of the detail of the highest grade of men in civil service for carnival purposes.

These and other equally important features, the active interest and assistance of the business and foreign communities, the fact that Manila is ideally situated with reference to the securing of features of interest from other Oriental countries, and that the Philippines are extremely rich in novelties splendidly suited to the purpose of the carnival, make it possible for this comparatively small organization of men situated in an obscure and imperfectly developed portion of the world, many thousand miles removed from the centers of art and social activity, to present once in each year a two weeks’ period of such striking interest and novelty as to easily rival the greatest attractions of modern times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

149. Carnival Beauties: AMPARO NERI, 1926 Miss Misamis

THIS MISAMIS MISS IS NOT TO BE MISSED. The 1st Miss Misamis, Amparo Neri became a well-known writer and poet after her Carnival days.

The first Miss Misamis to be sent to first ever Miss Philippines quest in the 1926 Manila Carnival was the lovely Amparo Neri. The Neris trace their roots to Iligan and Umalag, Cagayan de Oro, and among the members are poets and patriots like Vicentico Neri and Don Tirso Neri. Amparo, who, early on had literary leanings, had two equally accomplished sisters, Araceli and Pureza.

Amparo Neri came to Manila to participate in the festivities, rooming with Remedios Santos (Miss Rizal) and Anita Noble (Miss Batangas) in the house of Alfredo Roa Sr. , who is from Misamis Oriental himself. Anita later was crowned our country’s first Miss Philippines.

married a Domingo and continued to pursue her passion for writing. She subsequently became the first female writer of the weekly Graphic Magazine. She also became an accomplished poetess, publishing her works in the volume, “The Weak Flesh and the Willing Spirit”, which earned praises from Jaime Cardinal Sin and Fr. James Reuter in the 1990s.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

148. Carnival Beauties: JULIETA H. LOPEZ, 1927 Miss Iloilo

THE LUCK OF THE LOPEZES. Miss Iloilo of 1927, Julieta Lopez y Hofilena was an adoptive child of the prominent Lopez family from this province. Brother Eugenio ("ening) was a frequent escort of Carnival beauties in the 1920s.

Julieta Lopez, the Ilongga bet to the 1927 Manila Carnival search for Miss Philippines, comes from the prominent Lopez clan of Iloilo. She was born in the island of Guimaras (“Roca Encantada”) , the daughter of a peon and an American. Dña. Presentacion Hofileña-Lopez, the wife of Don Benito Lopez, took fancy on the baby girl who hailed from the same place as she did, and adopted her.

She thus became the sister of Eugenio Lopez, an ardent supporter of the Carnival himself and Fernando, the future vice president of the Philippines, and Marcos's party-mate. Julieta married Vicente Arenas who became the Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican.

The couple had a son, Ramon, who married well-known Manila society figure and philanthropist Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

147. Carnival Beauties: LEONOR T. REYES, 1926 Miss Bulacan

QUEEN AT SIXTEEN. The first official Miss Bulacan title was held by a teenager, Leonor T. Reyes, who was appointed in 1926 to represent the province in the 1st National Beauty Contest.

Leonor Tantoco Reyes, was just a a young lady of 16 when she was named as the first Miss Bulacan of 1926. Born in 1919, Leonor comes from a progressive and nationalistic family from Malolos; in fact, several of her blood relations are members of the esteemed “Women of Malolos”, who petitioned Gov. Gen. Valeriano Weyler in 1888 to let them open a night school and who were praised by Rizal through his famous letter addressed to them. In this group were Maria and Teresa Tantoco, aunts of Leonor.

After the Miss Philippines contest in Manila (won by Miss Batangas, Anita Noble), Leonor resumed her studies and finished her Education degree in 1933 from the University of the Philippines. She earned her Master in Education from the same school in 1954. Leonor was a teacher all her life and remained unmarried.

When she died at the ripe old age of 96 on 27 February 2006, she left behind a brother, Leopoldo and three sisters-in-law. She rests at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque. Her heritage house still stands preserved in Malolos.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

146. Carnival Mementos: 1909 MANILA CARNIVAL POSTER

This very rare full sheet lithographed poster of the 1909 Manila Carnival is generously shared by Mr. Allan Schein, who acquired this beautiful work of art in 1976 from the renowned magic poster collector, Mr. Alan J. Kanter, who is also a childhood friend.

The artwork was made by a certain artist named Fuster, which shows the Red Devil sprinkling "joy dust" on Carnival revelers. Nothing much is known about the artist Fuster, who may have been related to one Antonia Fuster, one of the beauties who graced the Oriental Court of Pura Villanueva in the previous year's 1908 Carnival.

The Red Devil figure came to life in many of the Carnival parades, with people donning devil costumes not just in red, abut also in white, yellow, black and other colors. But it was the image of the Red Devil that became the signature figure of the Carnival, replicated in medals, program covers, and commemorative posters such as this fine example.

According to Mr. Schein, this poster, celebrating the national Carnival held from 2-9 February 1909, was originally glued to a cardboard backing, but has since been fully restored. It has been framed and occupies a special place in his residence.

(Many thanks again to Mr. Allan Schein, for sharing with my readers this extraordinary memento from our nation's history.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

145.A Program Description: THE VICTORY CARNIVAL, part II

Early this fall, work will be begun for the Victory Carnival, which opens on January 31 and continues through February 8.

Hundreds of laborers will construct the big white wall which encloses the City and within its portals scores of buildings, to provide appropriate and artistic housing for amusement attractions and exhibits, will soon rear their towers. Plans for the Carnival City have been entrusted to one of the foremost architects of the Philippine Islands, and in beauty and lavishness of design, no previous Carnival setting will be comparable with it.

As has been the case in other years, the two dominating features of the Carnival City will be the high electric tower and the open air ballroom. Sparkling with thousands of small incandescent globes in all the colors of the rainbow, the lofty tower that stands in the center of the Carnival Plaza, crowned with powerful search-lights that throw their beams far out over the bay and back across the old city of Manila, is a perfect thing of real beauty; while the great auditorium with its perfect floor that will accommodate a thousand couples whirling in the maze of the dance, is one of the most unique as well as most beautiful structures anywhere in the world.

At night, when the lights are lit and the people of Manila with their guests give themselves over to revelry, the streets of the Carnival City become a wonderful kaleidoscope of color and life. Perhaps, nowhere else on the globe will the visitor rub shoulders with such a picturesque and cosmopolitan gathering. The American, the Englishman, the Frenchman, the Spaniard, the Russian, the Hollander, the Turk, the Hindu, the Chinaman, the Japanese, and the Filipino---there they all are, the Orientals in their native gala attire, their smiles speaking the common Carnival language, while bright eyes gleam roguishly through the showers of multicolored confetti that float down from above.

In the vast ballroom we meet them once more, the scene even being more picturesque because of the fancy masquerade costumes of many of the dancers. In its balcony sits the famous Constabulary Band, recognized as one of the leading musical organizations of the world, and to it melodious strains the cosmopolitan throng trips through the measures of the dance till dawn comes to dim the artificial lights of night.

On her dais, high above the floor sits the Queen of the Carnival, chosen from among the fairest of the many fair that the Philippines can boast, and her coronation is marked by the most stupendous spectacle of the nine-day revel.

The whole city of Manila gives itself over to Carnival. The government makes each day during Carnival week a half-holiday. The public busies itself with preparations for those who come from without our gates and the entire stage is set for the banishment of worry and trouble.

Steamship lines running to the Philippines will make available ships which will lie over here for most, if not the entire Carnival week. The hotels, led by the famous Manila Hotel, the most beautiful hostelry in the East, will perfect special arrangements for the accommodation of visitors and nothing will be left undone to make the stay of Manila’s guests a period of unalloyed pleasure.

By way of special attractions, the military and civic parades, including the mammoth Carnival Parade, with which only the Mardi Gras pageant at New Orleans can compare, the Coronation Ball, the Army and Navy Ball and the popular Carnival Ball which will open the week’s festivities, will hold most prominent place. But within the Carnival City, the entire Orient will contribute its mummers, jugglers, its master of magic, its acrobats and its freaks for the entertainment of the subjects of King Mirth. In addition, the United States and Europe will contribute spectacular thrillers, who have proved their success at international fairs during the past year.

This and more Manila offers during Carnival Season. And for it, Dame Nature provides what is most perfect in her weather repertoire. Never a drop of rain falls in those early February days, but the sun, tempered by its long sojourn in the north, gives forth nothing but pleasant warmth during the day, while the nights, delicious in their coolness, are passed all too soon under the diamond-studded tropical sky and the Southern Cross.

Manila invites the world to this celebration of our victory. Her hospitality and all that she has are yours for Carnival Time.

144. A Program Description: THE VICTORY CARNIVAL. part I

(Taken from the official souvenir program of the Victory Carnival and Exposition, Manila, P.I., January 31-February 8, 1920)

Nowhere in the Far East will the signal of the United States and the powers associated with her be as fittingly celebrated as in Manila, “The Pearl of the Orient”.

For eleven seasons, the people of Manila have made herself the playground of the East during the first days of February , when climactic conditions combine to make for perfect days and perfect nights. There has been but one lapse.

During 1918, when preparations for the 1919 Philippine Carnival had to be made, the United States was at war with the Central Powers. For patriotic reasons and in order to enable the Philippines to unite in placing every resource at the disposal of the American government and the various organizations active in war work, the 1919 Carnival was abandoned.

For this reason, the 1920 Carnival becomes the Philippine celebration for the great Victory and in it she invites the world to participate.

For those who have never seen Manila in Carnival time, mere words can conjure up but a faint picture of its attractions and beauties. It is the Mardi Gras of the Orient. It yields not to the Carnival of Venice nor to that of Rome. It is the meeting place of the East and the West. Practically, every nationality on the face of the globe is represented in its revels.

In setting, it is unique: A modern city of alabaster set as a precious jewel in background and medievalism.

On historic Wallace Field, facing the Spanish Luneta of romantic association, the Carnival City looks out upon the shifting blues and greens of Manila Bay, its turrets commanding distant view of the island fortress of Corregidor and the narrow passage through which Admiral Dewey led his squadron to a victory that implanted the Stars and Stripes upon Oriental soil. There it nestles, on its field of emerald green, and across it fall the shadows of old Spanish battlements, the historic walls built by the Castilian conqueror and still standing as a monument to the military genius of the Spain that was three centuries ago.

In 1920, this Carnival City will surpass all of its predecessors in size and splendor, for in addition to the regular Carnival features, there will be housed within it a commercial and industrial exhibit in which the 45 provinces and 920 towns of the archipelago will be directly represented.. But this feature of the great fiesta deserves a special mention apart.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

143. Carnival Beauties: ISOLINA P. PALMA, 1926 Miss Tarlac

TOAST OF TARLAC. Isolina Palma, the 1st official Miss Tarlac competed in the search for the 1st Miss Miss Philippines of the 1926 Manila Carnival.

The first known Miss Tarlac to officially represent the province in the Manila Carnival was Isolina Palma, born 24 August 1905. She was the daughter of former Bacolor mayor Gregorio Palma with Genoveva Puno. A short while after the contest, she married Dr. Valeriano Calma, Ph.D., an agriculturist and agronomy professor from Bacolor, who earned his doctorate in the U.S.

They settled in Los Baños where, on the side, she ran a boarding house for U.P. students. The couple designed and built a house made of bamboo that became their home for over 40 years. They had 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Josephine . Isolina resided in Los Baños till her death on 25 April 1997.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


STAR OF THE CARNAVAL DE ILOILO. Her Majesty, Estrella II, wearing her crown of beauty and patriotism. Dated 1928.

To the province of Iloilo goes the distinction of producing the very first Queen of the Orient—Pura Villanueva—the accomplished Ilongga-Spanish mestiza who ruled and captivated the crowds of the 1908 Manila Carnival. In the succeeding editions of the Carnival, Iloilo belles regularly made their appearance on the Carnival stage in Luneta, to compete against other provincial muses for the title of ‘Queen of the Manila Carnival” and later, “Miss Philippines”.

Some Ilongga beauties who went to the national Miss Philippines pageant included Amparo Unson (the first Miss Iloilo) who vied for the title in 1926 and Julieta Lopez (Miss Iloilo 1927). Both, however, did not advance to the finals.

In 1928, the provincial government held its own Carnival, but the details of that event are lost to us. A queen, Estrella Villanueva II , nicknamed “Tiliang”, ruled the festivities of the ‘Carnaval de Iloilo’. We do not know if she was to have been the official Iloilo representative to the national Carnival, but in 1928, the event was scrapped due to financial, organizational and timing problems.

It would be another 22 years after Pura, for another Ilongga to bring home the crown for the province again. In 1930, the lovely Consuelo ‘Monina’ Acuña was crowned Miss Philippines.

141. Carnival Beauties: MARGARITA T. LACSON, 1926 Miss Negros Occidental

OCCIDENTAL TOURIST AT THE 1st MISS PHILIPPINES SEARCH. Margarita Lacson y Torres, the beauty bet of Occidental Negros, was the daughter of a Negrense Katipunero general who had a blood compact with Bonifacio. 1926 official photo.

There was much talk about the celebrated lineage of the first ever Miss Philippines of 1926, Anita Noble of Batangas. Descended from heroes on both sides of her family, Anita was a shoo-in for the crown, and when she emerged as the winner, newspapers had a heyday reporting her connections to Bonifacio and the Agoncillos.

But in that year’s search for Miss Philippines, another candidate had almost the same credentials, the daughter of a true-blue Katipunero originally from Iloilo, from: Margarita Torres Lacson, the 1926 Miss Negros Occidental.

Margarita was the daughter of Aniceto Ledesma Lacson (b.1857/d.1931) of Molo, Iloilo whose parents, Lucio Lacson and Clara Ledesma relocated to Negros when Aniceto was just a boy. Aniceto studied at Ateneo Municipal and had Jose P. Rizal, the future national hero, as a classmate.

As a Manila student, Aniceto had the opportunity to meet the Katipunan Supremo and founder, Andrés Bonifacio, with whom he had a secret blood compact, the only Negrense to do so. He subsequently became a general of the Philippine Revolution.

Margarita’s mother, Magdalena “Nena” Torres was the second wife of Aniceto. First wife Rosario Araneta, a member of the royal Kabungsuan family of Mindanao, bore him 11 children. With Magdalena, 10 more children were added to the large family. Margarita’s siblings included Resureccion, Leonila, Leoncia, Nicolas (married to Mayor of Manila Arsenio Lacson’s sister, Amparo), Juan, Lucio, Luis, Consuelo and Jose.

Margarita later became Mrs. William Gemperle, a Swiss businessman and a longtime resident of Manila.


MISS SILAY & MISS SAN ENRIQUE OF 1938 Beauties of the 1938 Negros Occidental Carnival & Exposition.

Negros had its own provincial version of the Carnival in 1928 with the launch of the Occ. Negros Carnival and Exposition. The "Sugar Queen of the Philippines" could very well afford to have its own fair, to showcase their affluence and prosperity brought about by its profitable sugar industry. As early as the Spanish times, Negros enjoyed a level of importance due to the huge economic investments infused on its sugar industry and towns like Victorias and Silay boomed, becoming more cosmopolitan and Hispanized as the years went by. This went on until the American Occupation, where its sugar produce was lapped up avidly by the U.S. market.

As such, the Negrenses' joie de vivre found outlets in festivals inspired by the Manila Carnival. The first Miss Negros Occidental had participated in the 1st National Beauty Contest of 1926, and from that moment on, the Negrenses have never ceased creating their own celebrations. In the 1928 provincial carnival, town muses graced the festivities and two of them are featured here: Miss Silay (La Musa of Guintabu-an) and Miss San Enrique, both unidentified in the photographs.

Today, the festival tradition continues in Negros, with the famous MassKara Festival of Bacolod, the Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos City and the Pasalamat Festival of La Carlota City.

Monday, October 4, 2010

139. Carnival Beauties: ROSARIO A. PICAZO, 1927 Miss Capiz

The province of Capiz made sure that their representative to the 1st National Beauty Contest would create a major impression in Manila, placing its bet on a lovely Capizeña with an impeccable pedigree.

The beautiful Rosario Acuña Picazo is the daughter of Rosario Villaruz Acuña with her second husband, Eugenio Picazo. Nena’s mother was married first to Gerardo Roxas, and one of their children, Manuel, would become the President of the Philippines ( 1948). Nena, thus, is her half-sister.

Nena’s Picazo siblings include Evaristo, Ines and Leopoldo. Competition was very tough that year, resulting in a tie that was only broken after seeking the advice of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. The 1st Miss Philippines title went to Anita Noble of Batangas.


MARILAG NA BULAKENYA. Miss Malolos Josefa de Leon and Miss Hagonoy Carmen Tomacruz in their official photos as town muses of the 1927 Bulacan Provincial Fair.

One province that has consistently displayed its support for the national carnival is Bulacan. The province has taken part in the festivities since the inception of the fair in 1908, by way of town booths, product displays and the fielding of their beauty bet to the Carnival Queen search.

The progress of Bulacan was evident in its many pavilions put up for the pioneering 1908 Carnival, although its centerpiece Palacio de Bulakan earned mixed reviews. El Renacimiento reports: “(Bulacan Palace) has been economically improvised. Its presentation is disorderly. Made of nipa and bamboo, I shows the potentials of he industries of that province, the embryo of national industries. Hats, silks, bibelots, chairs, etc. make the pavilion an industrial, if not an art center..”

Bulacan made quite an impression in its 1924 participation, under the helm of Gov. Pio Valenzuela, who headed the Exhibicion de la Provincia de Bulacan. The town pavilions featured once again, their agricultural and commercial produce like the ‘agua minerales’ of Sibul Springs and Marilao.

In 1927, Bulacan once again held its own provincial fair, highlighted by the selection of town muses, two of which are featured on this page. Miss Malolos is Josefa Pantangco de Leon, a teacher at Bulacan High School, who went on to wed Aurelio Lularga Peña of Camiling, Tarlac. Miss Hagonoy, Carmen Tomacruz, comes from a political family from that town. The province-wide affair once again acclaimed the strides made by proud Bulakenyos in contributing to nation-building.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

137. Carnival Beauties: LORETO B. RELOVA, 1926 Miss Laguna

1926 MISS LAGUNA. The lovely Loreto Relova a noted town beauty, comes from a very large family from Pila, Laguna. She, too, had 10 children with Dr. Miguel Santos-Pascual. She competed in the very 1st search for Miss Philippines won by Anita Noble of Batangas.

The first Miss Laguna--Loreto “Etong” Relova was born on 24 February 1907 in, Pila, Laguna, the daughter of Regino Diaz Relova, a Katipunero colonel of the Magdalo faction and Teodula Oca Bartolome. The Relovas were a large and well-known family in the province—Loreta had ten siblings (Delfin, Rosario, Federico, Jose, Maria, Socorro, Roberto, Juan, Regino Miguel and Gonzalo)-- and for one of their fair daughters to be named Miss Laguna, was indeed a big honor. Her beauty was apparent at an early age—at 15, Etong was chosen to be Rosa Mistica in the annual Flores de Mayo of her town.

A first cousin, Supreme Court Associate Justice Lorenzo Rivera Relova mused about the Relova sisters—“si Charing ay sosyal, si Coring ay sosyal, si Etong hindi sosyal pero naging Miss Laguna”. As people close to her recall, Etong preferred staying at home, in the company of the tenants’ children who worked their Laguna farms. When gentlemen callers came visiting, she would stay in the bathroom, pretending to be busy. Her father had to have the trees surrounding their house cut down for fear that her admirers would climb them, since she refused to entertain them.

While her sisters and cousins went to school either at St. Scholastica or Philippine Women’s University, the young Loreto became an interna at the Holy Ghost College ran by German nuns from 1923-27. It was while she was a student there that the Governor of Laguna, Feliciano Arambulo Gomez, handpicked her to be the first Miss Laguna for the Miss Philippines search of the Manila Carnival.

Hopes were high for Etong to capture the Carnival crown, which, only four years before, had been won by a Pagsanjan beauty, Virginia Llamas—a first for Laguna. It was an exciting time for a 19 year old girl to come to the big city and meet other lovely girls from all over the country. As candidates, they toured different provinces and islands as part of their activities. Loreto did not win, but certainly relished her experience. Besides, much more wonderful things were happening in her life.

That same year, in May, while the beauty queen was coming out of the historic Pila Church, Dr. Miguel Santos-Pascual saw her from atop the veranda of Etong’s uncle, Ruperto Diaz Relova. Dr. Pascual was 10 years her senior, and already an established surgeon-physician of repute. He had finished his medical course at U.S.T and had gone to the United States and Paris, France for special studies.

It was love at first sight for the smitten doctor, and drove from Malabon to Pila to begin his courtship of Loreto. Dr. Pascual’s mother had to rent a house in Los Baños so that her son could be nearer his object of pursuit. On 7 September 1927, Loreto and Miguel tied the knot and their union resulted in 10 children (Miguel II, Raul Justino, Renato, Ma. Teresita, Dolly, Loreto II, Chit, Rene, Ed and Eduarda). It was a blissful married life, marred only by a fire in 1962 that razed their house to the ground and her Carnival photos and mementos. But Etong possessed such a sharp memory that she could easily identify relatives, determine their connection and name the provinces where they hailed from.

Their union sadly came to an end with Dr. Pascual’s passing on 7 July, 1967. Widowed at 60, Etong led a simple life surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She also became an ardent devotee of the Blessed Virgin. A routine hip operation in 1994 went awry when, after being given anaesthesia, she lapsed into a coma that would last for two long years. Loreto passed away peacefully on 3 June 1996. Had she survived her operation, she would have lived for the rest of her life in the United States where her children have all settled. Her memory continues to live on in the hearts of her family, as well as in the minds of Laguna oldtimers who, once upon a time in 1926, cheered their fair daughter as as she took centerstage to vie in the country’s biggest beauty concourse, all for Laguna’s pride and honor.

(I am indebted to Lou Relova, daughter of Loreto Relova, for her mother’s biographical sketch. My sincerest thanks! )

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


In 10 May 1926, swept by the Carnival fever, Cagayan held its own carnival. In fact, it was a joint, two-in-one carnival--one was for the province and the other for the capital town of Aparri. Very little is known about the organization of these provincial events, except that two queens reigned during that event.

The Aparri Carnival had Francisca Nepomuceno as Queen. The Carnaval de Cagayan Adelena Espartero reign as Miss Cagayan 1926. Adelena did not go to Manila for the national competition as the Manila Carnival had already ended by then, nor did she go to the 1927 contest—Carmen Quinto went to that one. Like the Cagayan provincial carnivals, nothing much is known about her.

135. Carnival Beauties: AMELIA Z. ROMUALDEZ, 1927 Miss Leyte

IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS? Amelia Zialcita Romuadez, Miss Leyte 1927, bears a striking resemblance to her first cousin, Imelda Romualdez (Marcos) in her official Manila Carnival picture.

In 1927, the province of Leyte fielded a homegrown beauty to the Miss Philippines tilt. She was Amelia Romualdez, who bore a striking resemblance to a first cousin—Imelda Romualdez—who would go on to become the First Lady of the land as the wife of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Imelda's father, Vicente Orestes, is the younger brother of Miguel Lopez Romualdez, Amelia's father, who was married to Brigida Zialcita of Manila.

Amelia's father had been a former Assemblyman of Leyte and a Mayor of Manila during World War II. The Lopezes were of Spanish descent; Amelia's paternal grandmother, Trinidad Lopez was a daughter of a Spanish friar, Fray Diego de Lopez of Granada, Spain who was assigned in Leyte. The Lopezes are credited with founding the town of Tolosa and enjoyed a reputation as a rich, influential and accomplished family.

Amelia's siblings included Daniel (Speaker of the House of Representatives 1957-62), Estela, Miguel Jr., Alberto (father of former Health Secretary, Alberto G. Romualdez), Froilan and Eduardo (Central Bank Governor).

Though a popular candidate, she did not place in the finals, with the crown going to Tayabasin Luisa Marasigan, who represented Manila and who also reigned as Sultana ng Pasig. In later years, Amelia married Col. Maximiano Janairo and settled in Maryland, U.S.A.

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.