Sunday, December 18, 2011

196. Carnival Beauties: LUZ CENTENO PAMINTUAN, Candidate, 1934 Miss Philippines

WIN OR LUZ. Lucy Pamintuan,a well-travelled society belle from Angeles, one of 3 Kapampangans who competed for the 1934 Miss Philippines crown.

The search for Miss Philippines in the 1934 Manila Carnival was touted as the tightest race ever by observers who took note of the high pedigree of the candidates who gamely joined the contest that year.

The A-list included UP students Consuelo Villamor (sponsored by The Tribune) and Clarita Tan Kiang (Philippine Collegian), Pacita Madrigal, daughter of Don Vicente Madrigal and Susana Paterno (Dee Tees), Miss Manila Marcelina Cuenca (Philippine Free Press), Vice President Sergio Osmeña’s daughter, Maria Osmeña (Bisaya), Zambangueña society girl Pilar Blanco, Angelina Diy (El Debate) and Pura Luna (Bulaklak).

Pampanga was represented by 3 beauties, who surprised beauty fans by becoming leading candidates throughout the voting period: Luz Pamintuan of Angeles, Luz Sarmiento of Bacolor and Remedios Ibarra of Guagua.

Luz “Lucy” Pamintuan,was born in 1915, the 5th child in a brood of 11, of Don Florentino Torres Pamintuan of Angeles with 2nd wife Tomasa Centeno of Pulung Bulu, a daughter of his tenant-farmer. Don Florentino was a Georgetown University-educated lawyer, who counted Sergio Osmeña, Manuel L. Quezon, Isauro Gabaldon, Manuel Roxas and Claro M. Recto as friends. After the death of her father in 1925, her mother Masing, went on to manage her husband’s sugar planting business successfully, becoming a founder and stockholder of Central Luzon Milling Company and a member of Pampanga Sugar Development Corp. (PASUDECO).

Lucy attended Holy Ghost College and Assumption Academy. When her father went to the U.S. for his advanced law studies, Lucy tagged along and went to Immaculate Seminary in Washington. A well-travelled girl, she has also visited several countries in Europe. Lucy also became a popular member of the elite Smiles Club, Rho Alpha and the local Catholic Women’s League. In 1934, sponsored by the newspaper Excelsior, Lucy joined the Miss Philippines search in the annual Manila Carnival. U.P. law student Clarita Tan Kiang, however, won the final counting on 30 January 1934.

Not one to dwell on this setback, Lucy thereafter became the toast of Pampanga’s high society, meriting a special section in the 1936 Pampanga Social Register, a book that featured the movers and shakers of Kapampangan society. She married twice--first to Fernando Casanovas, then to Jorge Halpern Garcia. She, however, remained childless. Lucy Pamintuan passed away on 1 December 1965 at a relatively young age of 50.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

195. Carnival Movers & Shakers: JORGE B. VARGAS

BY JORGE, THERE'S A CARNIVAL! Jorge b. Vargas was a moving force of the Manila Carnivals, starting from the 1920s down o the Commonwealth years, serving in different capacities as Director General and as permanent member of the Pgilippine Carnival Association. Portarit by Fernando Amorsolo.

Jorge Bartolome Vargas (b. 24 August 1890) was a long-serving member of the Philippine Carnival committee, an association which began in 1909, when he won a carnival-sponsored essay contest while a student at the University of the Philippines. The brilliant son of Angel Tiongco Vargas and Filomena Trinidad Celis from Negros Occidental, Jorge graduted with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1911, and Bachelor of Laws in 1914. He actually qualified as a government scholar in 1914, but financial problems quashed his dream to be a pensionado.

The young lawyer was appointed as clerk in the Philippine Commission after passing the bar, and was promoted to the position of Chief Clerk of the Department of the Interior in 1917. The next year, he became Speaker Sergio Osmeña’s legislative secretary and in 1919 was handpicked by President Manuel L. Quezon to be his Executive Secretary.

In 1921, Vargas became the Director-General of the Manila Carnival, also dubbed as the Magallanes Carnival. It turned out to be a resounding success, and from that moment on, Vargas became a permanent fixture in the Carnival circuit, assuming different executive posts, from the 20s through the Commonwealth years.

When World War II reached the Philippines, Vargas assumed mayorship of the open city of Manila, which was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army on 2 January 1942, declaring it an ‘open city’. Under a collaborationist Republic, he was the caretaker of the Philippine capital and served as the Philippine ambassador plenipotentiary to Japan.

After the War, Vargas was named Chairman of the National Planning Commission from 1946–1954 and was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines from 1961-1965. In 1960, the Republic of the Philippines awarded him the Legion of Honor with the rank of Commander.

Vargas was deeply involved in art collecting, Philippine scouting and Philippine sports. He was a founding member of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (now the Philippine Olympic Committee) and became the first Filipino member of the International Olympic Committee.

He was first married to Marina Yulo with whom he had 8 children (Jorge Jr., Angel Federico, Gregorio Roberto, Lourdes Filomena, Eduardo Mariano, Ramon Teodoro, Teresita Carolina and Maria Luisa). He and second wife Adelaida Montilla Peña were childless. The popular Manila Carnival personality passed away on 22 February 1980.

Monday, December 5, 2011

194. Carnival Beauties: CARMEN R. FERNANDEZ, 1926 Miss Palawan

THE LI'L SIS ALSO RISES. Carmen Rodriguez Fernandez, the 1926 Miss Palawan, was the younger daughter of Trinidad Fernandez, who, two years earlier, reigned as the 1924 Queen of the Manila Carnival.

Two years after Trinidad Fernandez won the Manila Carnival crown in 1924, her younger sister, Carmen, made her own bid for the first Miss Philippines title in 1926. Born on 1 April 1907 to parents Clemente Fernandez and Vicenta Rodriguez, Carmen grew up in Cuyo, along with her 13 siblings.

Hoping to replicate her sister’s victory, Carmen—as Miss Palawan 1926--went to Manila to compete against 20-plus other girls, a formidable line-up that included rich society belles, accomplished collegians, fair-haired daughters of patriots, mesmerizing mestizas and exotic mountain belles. The crown, however, eluded Carmen, which ended on the head of the beauteous Batangueña, Anita Noble.

Six years after her Carnival experience, she met and married a handsome 1923 West Point graduate, Santiago Garcia Guevara in 1930. They moved to the United States in 1938 but returned to the Philippines before World War II where Santiago was assigned in Orani, Bataan as a member of the Philippine Scouts, and as Topographical Officer of the U.S. Army Survey Troops. He would later join and survive the Bataan Death March.

After the War, Carmen and her family—which now included 3 children—returned to the U.S. in 1949. As Santiago was stationed in different parts of the country, the family got to live in the states of Georgia, California, Texas and Maryland. They permanently settled in Washington D.C. in 1953, after Santiago’s retirement. The Guevaras next moved into the Watergate Building along Virginia Avenue, where Carmen immediately made herself at home in her new neighborhood.

She became an active member of the parishes of St. Thomas and St. Anne’s, and also supported the St. Stephen’s choir. Carmen was elected as president of the Philippine-American Women’s Association in the District of Columbia, tirelessly raising funds for the group’s charities and cultural events.

Widowed in 1996, Carmen was honored by her adopted country wirth a ceremonial resolution given by the District of Columbia to honor and congratulate her on her 100th birthday on 6 February 2007, a befitting tribute to a woman whose inner beauty shone much brighter in her golden years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

193. Queen of the 1926 Pampanga Carnival: JUANITA S. ARRASTIA of Lubao

ARRESTING BEAUTY, Juanita Arrastia, Miss Pampanga 1926, had Basque and Filipino blood in her veins. She and husband, Dr. Wenceslao Vitug, continued to manage the hacienda left by her father, the richest hacendero of Lubao, and were known for their compassion and generosity in their treatment of their tenants.

Juanita Arrastia was a 24 year old beauty from Lubao when local organizers approached her mother, Francisca Salgado, to seek approval for her candidacy to the provincial fair. Her mother, in turn, referred them to Juanita’s father, Valentin Arrastia, who grumbled and showed no interest at the project. Unfazed, the organizers returned to plead with him. One day, tired of their implorings, he threw his arms in the air to dismiss them, and, walking away, exclaimed "Vanidades del mundo! (Vanities of the world!) They took that as a 'yes'.

Thus, Juanita became Lubao’s official bet to Pampanga’s royalty quest. The Arrastias descended from Basque adventurers from Spain who settled in the Philippines and found fortune in the vast agricultural lands they accumulated and farmed. Juanita’s father himself, was the richest hacendero in Lubao. It came as no surprise that she won the crown.

Many years later, when a granddaughter asked her about her beauty queen years, she knitted her brows, pursed her lips, gave her a side glance, and said in Kapampangan, "I won because my father had the biggest hacienda in Lubao. It wasn't about beauty."

But if truth be told, the Arrastia women were legendary for their beauty. “No one can be more beautiful than the Arrastia women”, one Philippine society observer even noted (Isabel Arrastia Preysler, former model and wife of Julio Iglesias, mother of Enrique and who latter married into Spanish royalty, came from the Arrastias of Lubao.)

At her proclamation, the lovely Juanita wore a glittery baro’t saya with a long train, attended by her two damas, Miss San Fernando and Miss Apalit. Military officials, young court pages, town muses and the governor of Pampanga shared the coronation stage with her. Her King Consort was her town mate, the dashing 22 year old Gregorio (Yoyong) Fernandez, then a freshman dentistry student at the Philippine Dental. Gregorio was also her 3rd cousin from the Salgado-Montemayor side of the family. He would go on to become a top actor and award-winning director and the father of the late action star, Rudy Fernandez. As a director, Gregorio is also credited with discovering Rogelio dela Rosa.

Juanita surprised everyone by getting married on 15 May 1926—just a few months after being named Miss Pampanga-- to Dr. Wenceslao Beltran Vitug (b. 28 Sept. 1891). Wenceslao (Apung Beses) came from a barrio of Arrastia sharecroppers, but news of his brilliance had made him a town celebrity of sorts. He overcame his humble beginnings by graduating at the head of his class at the Pampanga High School. He earned a medical degree from the University of the Philippines, practiced at the Philippine General Hospital and taught Medicine at his alma mater.

The marriage of Juanita to a ‘commoner’ who made good was big news in Lubao, where they settled and became hacenderos themselves, noted for their compassion and kindness to tenants. It was said that Dr. Vitug personally treated sick tenants while Juanita cared for the welfare of their families, even extending interest-free loans. The couple themselves were blessed with 7 children: Lourdes (Lulu), Amelia Juana (Melly) , Maria Magdalena (Nena), Antonio Jesus (Tony, a medical doctor), Luis Lamberto (died young, of bone cancer), Mario Venerando (died of aneurysm), and Roberto Nicolas (Bert).

The Vitugs would eventually settle in Manila , living long, full lives surrounded by the love of their children and grandkids. Wenceslao passed away in 7 January 1986 at age 94, while Juanita died in 8 September 1994. Their old Lubao house was acquired by an architect and had it transported to a seaside town of Bagac in Bataan where it is now part of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

192. Carnival Beauties: MANUELA L. ORTEGA, 1927 Miss La Union

AY, MANUELA. The first Miss La Union, Manuela Lacsamana Ortega, came from a family of politicians who continue to rule over La Union to this day.

The Ortegas comes from a powerful political family in La Union that has been involved in politics of the province since 1901 and which continues to this day. The patriarch was the Cebu-born Don Joaquin J. Ortega, who, at age 31 was appointed as the first civilian governor of La Union by Gov. Gen. William H. Taft.

The next year, he became the first elected provincial governor. His marriage to Francisca Lacsamana of Bangar produced 14 children (one died in infancy) and among them was the lovely Manuela L. Ortega, the first Miss La Union.

Like her seven sisters (Antonia, Vicenta, Ramona, Juanita, Joaquina, Concepcion, and Maria), Manuela was raised and educated in the province, learning domestic arts and housekeeping duties as was the custom in those days. All these changed when she was handpicked to be the provincial bet to the Manila Carnival search for Miss Philippines. With her family’s affluence and clout to back her, she went to the big city of Manila to compete in the first ever National Beauty Contest for that was won by Anita Noble of Batangas.

Later in life, Manuela settled down, married a businessman from Isabela and became Mrs. Quiroz. Manuela’s five brothers—Jose, Luis, Francisco, Joaquin and Evaristo—all finished Law and all served in different capacities as judges, councilors, mayors, provincial board member, governors, congressmen, Speaker pro-tempore, thus continuing a family tradition in public service that has lasted for over a century.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

191. Carnival Beauties, PILAR BLANCO, Candidate, 1934 Miss Philippines

PILLAR OF BEAUTY. Pilar Blanco, a classical pianist from Cebu, was a popular candidate to the 1934 Manila Carnival quest for Miss Philippines. Her daughter is also a concert pianist of repute, Ingrid Sala-Santamaria. Ca. 1934.

Pilar Blanco was a budding classical pianist from Cebu when she started attracting the attention of local beauty aficionados. She was one of the first graduates of Sister Baptista Battig, a German Benedictine nun who came to Manila in 1908 to teach music. The good sister rented out pianos in makeshift classrooms and taught Filipino students Western music and techniques.

Among Pilar’s co-students were Marcela Agoncillo, Pacita Zaragoza, Blanca Castillo and Imelda Katigbak; the latter two became concert artists. Pilar herself was an ardent and accomplished pupil of Sr. Battig. Eventually, Sr. Battig would eventually set up a regular music department in a Singalong school that would be known as St. Scholastica’s College.

When it was time to nominate a candidate for the queenship of the 1934 Manila Carnival, Pilar’s name was submitted by the newspaper, “The Social Fountain”, which avidly supported her. Hopes were high for the Cebuana who not only possessed mestiza good looks but also an exceptional musical gift. But competition was stiff that year; the crown went to a Chinese-Filipina from Marilao, Clarita Tan Kiang, a student of the University of the Philippines.

Pilar, however, had other things planned, one of which was to marry her handsome beau, Salvador E. Sala, an educator. Even with a family to care for, Pilar continued her passion for the piano, by setting up a music school in her native Cebu. She named it the Battig Piano School, in honor of her mentor, and when her daughter Ingrid came of age, she became her first tutor. Ingrid Sala-Santamaria would pursue her advanced music studies at the world-famous Juilliard School and become a concert pianist of note.

The flowering of the golden age of music in Cebu is credited to the relentless promotion of Pilar Blanco-Sala and her family. It was she who established the Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), later to be known as the Peace Philharmonic of the Philippines. The Sala children honored their parents with the creation of Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation, Inc. (SPSFI) in Cebu on 10 October 1998, a non-governmental organization that implements social projects in the field of education and music.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

190. CATALINA MORENO ZAVALA: A Family's Recollection of Miss Luzon 1935

Catalina Zavala Moreno was born on November 11, 1916 to Luz Vasquez Villena and Aquilino Zavala, both residents of Tondo, Manila. She was the eldest of 5 siblings, 3 girls and 2 boys. She spent her childhood and early adult life in Tondo, went to primary school in Sta. Catalina College and attended the University of the Philippines for a course in Home Economics.

Catalina, or Nena, as she was fondly called, was a beautiful child, and often elicited admiring glances and comments when she accompanied her mother on various outings. She was known as "muneca" (Spanish for 'doll') because of her fair skin, brown hair and beautiful brown eyes and long curly lashes. Nena grew up to be a tall, willowy and winsome beauty and many suitors were after her during her years in the University. It was during these years that she was asked to vie for the title of carnival queen, that era's version of our beauty pageant.

As history records, Nena won the title of Miss Luzon during the 1935 carnival. Photos of the coronation night show her to be a lovely, slender and graceful young woman, poised and confident, yet still sheltered and innocent, on the cusp of womanhood at age 19.

She was swept off her feet by young, dashing and handsome Hector de Santos Moreno, youngest scion of the respected de Santos-Moreno clan, just arrived from a four year course in Heidelberg, Germany. He was the grandson of Marcelino de Santos (treasurer of the Katipunan, associate of Jose Rizal),who has a street in Divisoria named after him, and youngest son of Pacita Ongsiako de Santos and Roberto Gutierrez Moreno (then Fiscal of San Pedro, Laguna).

Hector fell in love with Nena and persuaded her to elope with him in the summer of 1936. They were married in Baguio on April 14, 1936 and took up residence in the Moreno mansion on Juan Luna Street in Tondo, Manila -- then one of the more respectable residential areas in old Manila. Hector and Nena's early married life was spent in this house, along with the young families of Hector's siblings: Ada Moreno de Leon, Nitang Moreno Lopez, Mario Moreno and Elsa Zamora, and Choling Moreno and Enrique Villanueva. In later years the siblings left Juan Luna to take up residence in other parts of Manila, but Hector and Nena remained there along with Ada and Sancho de Leon.

One interesting footnote about this imposing structure built on approximately 20,000 square meters of land is that an exact replica of the house was built in Gagalangin, a few minutes away from Juan Luna, by the same architect. This second mansion housed the de Santos siblings.

Hector and Nena Moreno stayed in Juan Luna until 1950, when they moved to Horseshoe Drive with their 5 children. Two more children were born after the move to Quezon City, and Hector and Nena lived here until their last days.

Nena quickly involved herself in the neighborhood association, and as president worked at organizing the neighborhood along with the other residents' wives. She also threw herself in Jayceerette activities in full support of her husband's membership in this organization, participating in most of the fundraising activities of the group. She was a full-time mother except for when she ran the restaurant Talk of the Town at Manila Doctor’s Hospital and when she ran the family's 300-hectare hacienda in Nueva Ecija. Apart from these commitments, Nena was basically a housewife, devoted to the care and upbringing of her (now) 7 children; Roberto, Hector, Maria Paz, Jose Luis, Maria Isabel, Miguel and Maria Luz.

In her later years, Nena devoted her days to parish prayer meetings and related activities and to the care of her husband. She was always the focal point in family gatherings, and her children and grandchildren cherish the memory of many happy, noisy and fun-filled family events in Horseshoe Drive. Nena was always caring, supportive and loving to all the members of her family. Her incomparable sense of humour, her incisive witticisms and words of advice, her wisdom and generosity made her the perfect mother, the perfect lola, the perfect wife, and these are the traits she will always be remembered for. She passed away at the age of 81 on May 13, 1998, and Hector followed 3 years later on May 14, 2001. She was a beauty all throughout her life, doted on by her husband, loved by all.

(This contributed piece was made possible through the efforts of Andrea Tantoco (Catalina's granddaughter) and Maria Luz (Jackie) and Maria Paz (Tootsie) Moreno who wrote this biographical sketch based on their recollections of their parents, Catalina and Hector Sr. Many thanks!).

Monday, September 19, 2011

189. Carnival Memento: 1936 MANILA BOHOL BOOTH BROCHURE

The Commonwealth Carnivals were the last to be celebrated in the country. The 1936 edition was mounted at the usual venue, Luneta, riding on the crest of national enthusiasm, brought about by America’s promise of independence after a 10-year transition period.

Provincial participation continued at the Carnival, and the Province of Bohol was a consistent and active member of the 1936 fair held from 15 February to 1 March 1936. The slant of the Carnival was the same as in the previous year, with emphasis on the Philippines’ commercial and industrial progress.

Bohol staged an art deco booth, featuring representative samples of its products. This complimentary brochure served as a guide to the province, to attract prospective investors and tourists alike.

From the write-up, we see that Bohol’s agricultural produce included palay, corn, sugar, abaca, cogon and tobacco, in that order. A census of the province’s animal stock was also featured, complete with a tally of the number of carabaos, cows, horses, pigs, goats and sheep found in the region.

Putting its best foot forward, Bohol also boasted of its new services and infrastructures, including its two airports and the telephone system connecting the island to the rest of the Philippines and the world. The looming war in the would put a halt not only to the national fair but also the great Philippine dream.

On 17 May 1942, just 6 years after the Carnival, Bohol would be invaded by the Japanese by way of Tagbilaran. Three very difficult years where to follow, until the return of the Americans to Bohol on 11 April 1945. A year later, Bohol became a part of the independent Republic of the Philippines.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

188. Carnival Beauties: MARIA PALOMA OSMEÑA, Candidate, 1934 Miss Philippines

PRESIDENTIAL DAUGHTER , Maria Paloma Osmena, Candidate, 1934 Miss Philippines.

In 1934, the participation of one candidate to the annual Miss Philippines search of the Manila Carnival elicited a lot of interest and media following. Maria Paloma Osmeña after all, was the daughter of Sergio Suico Osmeña (1878-1961), governor of Cebu and Speaker-elect of the 1907 Philippine National Assembly. He would go on to become a Vice President of Manuel L. Quezon in 1935, and eventually become the 4th president of the Philippines (1944-46) after Quezon’s death.

Maria’s mother, Estefania Chiong Veloso, had 9 other children with Sergio: Nicasio, Vicente, Edilberto, Milagros, Emilio, Jesus, Teodoro, Jose, Sergio Jr. Maria’s brothers were involved at some point in Carnival activities like Nicasio or Nick and Emilio, who provided escorting duties to some of the Carnival royalties. Maria’s father would marry a second time to Esperanza Limjap, herself a former Manila Carnival princess.

Maria’s candidacy was supported by a leading newspaper. The competition that year was stiff, with the UP collegian candidate, Clarita Tan Kiang prevailing over the rest of the candidates that also included Lucy Pamintuan, Luz Sarmiento, Pilar Blanco, Pura Luna, Consuelo Villamor and Angelina Diy. Still, her Carnival experience was something she would not forget.

Ten years after, she met and married an accomplished classical pianist in New York on October 1944, James Milne Charnley. Charnley often accompanied opera singers like Bidu Sayao, a Metropolitan Opera House soprano and one of Brazil’s most famous artists. They settled in New York, New York.

When Pres. Diosdado Macapagal changed the date of Philippine Independence to June 12, children of past presidents—including Maria Osmeña-Charnley, were present at the historic signing of the act on 4 August 1964. With her were Gerry Roxas, Carmen Melencio-Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon Jr. and Tomas Quirino.

Maria and James regularly shuttled back and forth from the U.S. to the Philippines. James also got to accompany local Philippine divas like Nelia Manalo Concordia whenever they gave recitals. After her husband’s death, Maria settled back home in the Philippines and lived to be in her 90s. She reposes at the family mausoleum in Cebu.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

187. Carnival Beauties: CATALINA "Katy" DE LA CRUZ, Candidate, 1924 Queen of the Manila Carnival

KATY DE LA CRUZ AT AGE 12. The future 'bodabil' superstar, not yet a teen, but already looking like a sophisticated vamp. She was already an established name in the local vaudeville circuit, performing in top-rated movie houses, when she was nominated as one of the Manila candidates for the 1924 Manila Carnival Queen search. Ca. 1919.

In 1924, a city search was conducted to select the Manila candidate to that year’s Queen of the Manila Carnival quest. A 17 year old petite and talented beauty nearly caused an upset by placing a strong second to the eventual winner Lolita Paterno. She was none other than Catalina de la Cruz, who, as Katy de la Cruz, would go on to greater fame on the world stage as a jazz and torch singer, honed by years of vaudeville experience in the Philippines.

She was born in Intramuros on 13 February 1907, although her roots are in Bulacan. Her father was a concierge at the Ayuntamiento Bldg., earning 30 pesos a week. At age 7, the streetsmart Catalina would go to the ferias around Intramuros and would steal the scene by singing songs while swiveling her hips to the delight of the crowd. People would throw her coins which she used to augment the meager family income.

An American theater owner, Harry Brown , spotted the tyke and arranged to have her sing during intermissions while the movie reels were being rewound for playing at his cine houses. Thus, Katy de la Cruz’s career was launched, at a salary of 1 peso a week. Her father’s objection, however, forced her to go back to school, which she would not finish anyway. The family relented and young Katy was back on track of a new and exciting career.

At 10, she performed at the Savoy, later renamed Clover Theater. At 13, she made the rounds of popular movie houses: Cine Rizal, Cine Amor, Cine Gloria, Lux, Palace, Rivoli. Her raspy, gravelly voice became her trademark, which she learned from slurring the lyrics heard from scratchy Victrola records.

At age 21, to the consternation of her family, Katy eloped with Jose Yoingco, a pianist. Despite parental protests, they stayed together till Jose’s death in 1955. By then, ‘bodabil’ was at its peak and Katy found herself a leading vaudeville star, rivaled only by Diana Toy. Her chorus girls included Patsy, Chichay and Chuchi.

She was still in her teens, when, in 1924, she was nominated to be one of the candidates for Manila’s representative to that year’s search for the Queen of the Manila Carnival. After all, she was quite a looker, and she was described thus by an American fan: “..5 footer, 105 buxom pounds…dark olive skin…hell’s ember eyes”…

Married women then could join the contest and she found herself in friendly competition with such familiar personalities like Vitang Escobar Cowper, protege of John C. Cowper, dean of Philippine variety show. For awhile, it looked like Vitang, a singer-dancer, would be the most serious threat to Katy’s candidacy—she actually led her in the first counting, but Katy overtook her in the 2nd counting. In the final tally, however, votes for the more affluent Lolita Paterno came pouring in—“golpe de Paterno” was how the surge of Paterno votes, over 12 million in all, was described by media men covering the event. Katy wound up in second place with over 11 million votes. Pacita Serra, Marcelina Lerma and Vitang Cowper completed the top 5.

In the national finals, Trinidad Fernandez of Palawan emerged as the 1924 Queen of the Manila Carnival from among contestants like Benita Reyes (Pampanga), Maring Barreto (Zambales) , Victoria Lopez (Iloilo) , Leonor Reyes (Bulacan), Corazon Ruth de Veyra (Leyte), Angela Martinez (Cavite), Amelia Paras (Marinduque), Victoria Ledesma (Negros Occidental) and Consuelo Lazo (Batangas).

But Katy couldn’t possibly care: her career was on an upswing. She found an adoring American audience who took to her and her songs like “Planting Rice”, “Balut”, “St. Louis Blues” and “One of These Days”. She sang at the Elks Club, the University Club, the Army-Navy Club. Her international stints included performances in Honolulu and San Francisco where she was described as a “combination of Sophie Tucker and Carmen Miranda”. She also captivated Las Vegas in 1961, as well as Melbourne, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In between all these, Katy made movies and even won a Famas supporting actress award for her role in the 1953 movie, “Inspiration”. She retired in San Francisco with her four children. One daughter, Angie, teamed up with Nikki Ross and, as “Wing Duo” also made a mark in comedy-musicals in the 60s.

In 1989, the Cultural Center of the Philippines honored “Mommy Kate” with the staging of the musical “Katy”, based on her life. Maya Valdez portrayed her in the successful musical revue. She retired in the 1990s and passed away in California on 10 November 2004 at age 97. True, Katy de la Cruz was not fated to win the Queen of the Manila Carnival crown, but she earned a more enduring and iconic title—the Queen of Philippine Vaudeville.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


THE 1927 DULAG CARNIVAL. Celebrating the beauty of Leytenas, under the American Regime.

1927 was the first and only time that a Miss Leyte was named to compete in the Manila Carnival search for Miss Philippines; the winner was Amelia Zialcita Romualdez, a cousin of Imelda Romualdez (Marcos). Her participation inspired municipalities to hold their own carnivals and elect their own royalties, even at a local level only.

One such town that held its own carnival festivities that same year was Dulag, a large and progressive coastal town of Leyte fronting the Leyte Gulf, just 36 kilometers from the provincial capital, Tacloban. Dulag was an important commercial hub in its heyday; ships from all over would dock at its port carrying merchants who traded their products for Philippine abaca, copra, tobacco, rice and wine with the natives. At one time, the shores ofDulag were lined with large warehouses filled with goods that were imported to foreign countries.

As a toast to its prosperity, the municipality organized its very own Dulag Carnival of 1927. Queen Teofila I and her retinue of princesses and escorts were elected to serve as the carnival royalties, as preserved in this rare photo. The details of the event as well as the background of the queen-elect have all but been lost to oblivion. But the 1927 Dulag Carnival must have been a grand and pompous event, complete with the Philippine-American trappings and trimmings of a royal coronation.

Ruined by the last World War, Dulag would rise again and earned the distinction as a “Liberation Town”. Many veterans still claim that it was in Dulag that Gen. Douglas MacArthur first landed upon his promised return—and not in Palo, Leyte as historians believed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

185. Carnival Beauties: PACITA PATERNO MADRIGAL, Candidate, 1934 MIss Philippines

PAGEANTRY, POLITICS AND PACITA. The 15 year old Pacita as a high schooler of Philippine Women's College (now University). She went on to become a Senator in 1955, only the 2nd woman to achieve that feat--and an election topnotcher at that! Ca. 1930.

In the 1934 quest for Miss Philippines, one lovely candidate turned heads not only for her illustrious pedigree and family wealth but also for her academic brilliance that would served her well in the future. Pacita Madrigal y Paterno would go on to greater heights by entering politics and topping the senatorial elections of 1955 under the Magsaysay Administration.

Maria Paz or Pacita was one of the 7 children of the influential senator and millionaire, Don Vicente Madrigal y Lopez of Albay with Susana Paterno y Ramos of Laguna. Born in 1915 in the San Miguel district of Manila, she grew up together with her siblings Macaria, Josefina, Antonio, Jose, Consuelo Alejandra, and Maria Luisa.

Pacita studied at the Philippine Women’s College. At age 15, she became a leading candidate for the title of "Princess of Education", a contest conducted on the occasion of the San Juan de Letran's Tercentenary activities, her father's alma mater. She graduated as high school valedictorian in three years; was medalist at the Sorbonne University, Paris and graduated magna cum laude in business administration at the University of Santo Tomas. She also went to 2 finishing schools: the Collège Féminin de Bouffemont at Seine, Paris, and at the Powers School in New York.

At age 19, Pacita was sponsored by Dee Tees, a leading publication of the Commonwealth years, to be their candidate to the annual Miss Philippines Beauty Contest of that year’s Manila Carnival. Competition was stiff—there was the Spanish mestiza Pilar Blanco, Maria Osmena, Marcelina Cuenca (former Miss Manila) and the 2 Kapampangan belles, Lucy Pamintuan and Luz Sarmiento to contend with. And there was the Chinese mestiza beauty from UP, Clarita Tan Kiang, who eventually won the crown.

But Pacita had other things in mind than being just an icon of beauty. She was soon abroad to further enrich her education. She was in New York when World War II broke out on 8 December 1941. Determined to maker herself useful, Pacita took up Red Cross work and also volunteered at the Walter Reed Hospital.

After the war, she married Herman Warns, a Manila Gas Corporation executive and proceeded to establish her ballet school. But in 1953, she gave up her school to head the Women for Magsaysay Movement, and her interest in politics began. With Magsaysay’s victory, she assumed the position as Social Welfare Administrator.

Two years later, she decided to run for the Philippine Senate. Pacita, at age 40, became the first woman to ever top the senatorial elections. According to Time Magazine, she did so with the most number of votes ever garnered by a senatorial candidate up to that time (2,544,716 in all). She was just the second woman after Geronima Pecson, to be elected to the Senate.

As cabinet member when she was SWA administrator, she was involved in some 40 committees, councils, commissions, boards and institutes—from the Council of State, Community Development Council, Slum Clearance Committee, Community Chest to the Philippine National Red Cross, Pan Pacific Women’s Association, and Philippine Committee of United Nations Appeal for Children.

After the death of Herman Warns, the widowed Pacita married lawyer Gonzalo Gonzales in 1956. She was defeated for re-election in 1961 after accusations arose about her misappropriation of public funds in 1956. Had her credibility not been damaged by the charges, she could have posed as a serious threat to Carlos P. Garcia’s presidential candidacy in 1961. The Manila Carnival beauty who could have been the world’s first female head of state, died at the age of 93 on 12 September 2008.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


After a one year lull, the country went agog when the Philippine Carnival Association announced the resumption of the Manila Carnival in 1929. There was so much ado about that year’s edition, marked with major changes in the selection of Miss Philippines. This time, schools were tapped and encouraged to send their beauty delegates, and select colleges from all over the Philippines like the Manila College of Pharmacy, Centro Escolar de Señoritas, the University of the Philippines, Cebu Colleges, Sta. Rosa College and Filipino Academy chose their own bets.

The winner who emerged was the statuesque UP collegian, Pacita de los Reyes, a a brainy law student who had four princesses in her court (previously, the queen was attended by a Miss Luzon, Miss Visayas and Miss Mindanao).

Never has there been a Miss Philippines as busy as Pacita, who had to attend five royal pageants throughout the 16 day festivities. The programs were often thematic and at her Coronation Night alone, she appeared as ‘Pearl of the Orient Seas’. She also had a change of escorts at her every appearance.

Her university honored her with a U.P. Night and for some students, participation in the dances was mandatory, credited to their Physical Education course. This explains why the entertainment and musical interludes were lavish and varied; the entire university, it seemed, turned up in full support of their Queen, as these photos show.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

183. Carnival Beauties, DAISY P. HONTIVEROS, Miss Mindanao, 1934 Cebu Carnival

PICKING DAISY. Kahirup's bet to the Cebu Carnival Queen search--Daisy Hontiveros--would become a leading force in advancing the cause of Philippine theater, in partnerhsip with her husband, award-winning director and National Artist, Lamberto Avellana Sr. She is shown here at age 17.

In the court of the 1934 Cebu Carnival Queen Maria Lagrimas Ong, one lovely runner-up was destined for even greater things after her fourth place finish in the quest for the province’s carnival royalty. Daisy Pardo Hontiveros, who reigned as Miss Mindanao (Julieta Abad was Miss Visayas and Julia MacVean was Miss Luzon), would become the future wife of National Artist and award-winning film director Lamberto Avellana and would distinguish herself as a leading light in Philippine theater.

Lourdes Genoveva Dolores Pardo Hontiveros was born on 26 January 1917 in Capiz, Capiz to Jose M. Hontiveros and Vicenta R. Pardo. She was the eldest in a brood of 10 children, that included Jose, Leon Jose, Alejandro, Renato Jose, Eduardo Jose, Juan Nepomuceno Jose, Ma. Teresita Vicenta, Benjamin Jose and Ramon Nonato.

Nicknamed “Daisy”, she went to the Assumption Convent in Iloilo for her elementary years beginning in 1924. In 1930, she started high school at Capiz High. It was here that she was chosen as Miss Capiz and, in her senior year, she was prevailed upon by the influential Kahirup Club to join the quest for the 1934 Queen of the Cebu Carnival. Young Daisy did not disappoint her sponsors and emerged as Miss Mindanao.

That same year, after graduation, Daisy was accepted at the University of the Philippines in Padre Faura where she took a drama course. She became a very popular and accomplished actress in school, and was named 1st Intercollegiate Girl in only her first year. She also became a talented writer (editor of Philippine Herald in 1937-38) and radio actress.

On 19 June 1938, she married Lamberto V. Avellana at the Remedios Church in Malate, whom she had previously met in 1932 at a party. The two had actively immersed themselves in theater and radio work and this interest led them to organize the Barangay Theater Guild in 1939. They had four children: Marijo (died in infancy), Mari, Ivi and Bating.

Lamberto Sr. would earn fame with his film “Anak Dalita” which won the Grand Prix at the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong in 1956. Their theater guild produced the Nick Joaquin play, “Portrait of the Filipino as an Artist”, which became the longest-running play in the Philippines. Daisy appeared as Candida in the 1965 film version.

When Lamberto passed away in 1991, Daisy carried on with her theatrical pursuits, and in 1994, she was named “The Cinema’s Living Treasure” at the Manila Metro Film Festival. She was also a Centennial Awardee for Theater by CCP. Aliw Awards honored her with a Gawad Siglo ng Aliw for Theater in 1999. Daisy continued directing stage readings of plays at FEU from 2002-2006. On her 90th birthday, she was given a tribute by the CCP and NCCA. The province of her youth, Capiz, honored her, along with Jovita Fuentes, with a “Saludo” in 2009.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

182. A Newspaper Account: 1908 CARNIVAL IN THE PHILIPPINES


The Philippine carnival, originated by Americans in Manila, is one of the biggest and most entertaining annual shows in the Orient. Interesting exhibits from all over the archipelago, from China, Japan, Siam, Singapore, the Federated Malay States, the Straits Settlements, and other surrounding countries, are shown while magnificent land and water parades, athletic tournaments and field sports, add to the amusement of the visiting throngs. The accompanying photos of certain features of the carnival are typical of the islands’ festival of fun.

Freak device of an army officer for fun-making at a carnival recently held in Manila.

The first shows Captain George T. Langhorne, U.S.A., one of the original promoters of the carnival, in his ingeniously contrived ‘mulomobile’, where it cannot be said the cart is before the horse.

Odd decoration of a boat at the carnival held recently in the Philippine capital. The head is a colossal imitation of the clown’s and the top of its cap is the steamer’s smokestack.

The decorated, grotesque-appearing launch shown in the second illustration is the creation of one of the foreign colonies of Manila, and was designed to take part in the water parade, which was one of the striking features of the carnival.

The giant head surmounting the boat’s awning was placed immediately over the smoke-stack, the cap having an opening in the top for the smoke to pass out. The effect was of course very curious and the vessel quite naturally attracted its full share of attention as it took its part proudly in the pompous pageant.

181. Carnival Beauties: SOFIA LOTA, Miss Cotabato 1926

SOFIA'S CHOICE. Sofia Lota, 'an exotic find from the untamed regions of Cotabato", assuming a film star pose in 1926.

One of the most daring beauties ever to grace the Manila Carnival was a woman who went by the formidable name Sofia Lota Rinagandu Magadi Sinambel Malibutang. Surprisingly, she came all the way from Cotabato, where religious conservatism was held in esteem. When she came to Manila, she was touted as a “Muslim with royal blood in her veins” and her bio-data likewise listed her accomplishments: a dancing girl, a former nursing student, and a school teacher.

Sofia’s name and picture, however, does not appear in the omnibus photo of the Manila Carnival contestants issued in 1926. Whether she competed or not, Sofia Lota (or Lotta), billed as “an exotic find from the untamed regions of Cotabato”, went on to becomea nationally famous personality when she joined the movies shortly after the Carnival of 1926.

She, along with other candidates, had been invited by Vicente Salumbides, the American-trained actor and director, to drop by at his studio. He was in the process of casting new faces for the movie projects he had been lining up for production. Sure enough, the beautiful Sofia caught the eye of the director, who cast her in his 1927 movie, Fate or Consequence with Gregorio Fernandez.

Sofia was a natural in front of the camera, and the next year, she found herself appearing with Vicente himself in the movie “The Soul Saver”, which featured a a very rare screen kiss. At the time of the making of the movie, Vicente had a fiancée—Rosario H. Panganiban, Miss Pampanga 1926, who had competed against Sofia in the national carnival. During the filming of the kissing scene—then sensational in its time—Rosario was there to witness the on-screen osculation—take after take. Right there and then, Rosario decided to marry Vicente in a fit of jealousy.

The vampish beauty created quite a stir with her screen performances. Leading magazines like Graphic and Free Press took note of the "Moro girl making good in the movies". Right after finishing "The Soul Saver", Sofia was paired again with the dashing Gregorio Fernandez in the classic hit, “Lumang Simbahan” written by Florentino Collantes and directed by Jose Nepomuceno for Malayan Films. She was the ill-fated Julita to Gregorio’s Rodolfo. Again, it featured a mouth-to-mouth kissing scene with his leading man, and by this time, Sofia seemed to be very much comfortable doing the smoldering scene. "Excellent work by every member of the cast distinguishes it as a drama of genuine merit. But it is Sofia Lotta who is the star", reported The Tribune and Herald on the acting of Miss Cotabato. The Times gushed, "The work of the youthful star, in fact, does much to establish the picture as a masterpiece of stirring, moving melodrama. Her part alone makes the picture worth seeing".

She did one more film, "Ang Mutya ng Pamilihan" in 1929, where Francisco Varona, a member of the Philippine Carnival Association, made a cameo role. Sofia Lota became one of the top stars of a generation of artists in the early 30s that included Naty Fernandez, Gregorio Fernandez, Maggie Galloway, Dimples Cooper, Eva Lyn, Carlos Padilla, Eduardo de Castro, Nena Linda, and Giorgina Hollis.

Monday, August 1, 2011


A Night View of the 1933 Carnival City

View of Entrance, Army Show

A General View of the Horticultural Exhibits (1933 Carnival)

Exhibit Building of the Province of Leyte (1933 Carnival)

Exhibit Building of the Province of Rizal (1933 Carnival)

A Night Scene at the Commercial and Industrial Fair Building (1933 Carnival)


VICTORY FOR VALESCA. Queen of the 1924 Laguna Provincial Fair.

Ever since the inception of the first ever Manila Carnival of 1908, “La Laguna” had always been one of the more enthusiastic provinces ever to join the national fair. Its provincial government threw its all-out support by putting up one of the most outstanding booths in the pioneer exhibits that drew rave reviews from visitors and media men covering the fair. The award-winning 250 sq.m. booth was noted for its exquisite display of finely woven buri and uway hats, textiles, medicinal water from Majayjay, hats of cana muda from Liliw, sinaba (rice variety) from Sta. Rosa, varnished furniture made from narra, corchos, Japanese sandals and fishes from Laguna de Bay.

The people of Laguna were not disappointed too, in their quest to have one of their fair daughters crowned as the Queen of the carnival festivities. In 1923, Virginia Llamas of Pagsanjan copped the top crown, to the delight of the people of Laguna. Thrilled by her victory, the local government organized its first ever Laguna Provincial Fair (there had been town carnivals years before) in May 1924. The queen-elect was none other than a mestiza beauty, Valesca Calma, who reigned as Queen Valesca I. Two years later, the province had its first official Miss Laguna, in the person of Loreto Relova, who competed in the 1st National Beauty Contest for Miss Philippines.

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.