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.