Category Archives: Vintage Photos

Flood Weary in the Philippines

The recent spate of sad events in the Philippines — starting with Typhoon Ondoy on September 26th  — really kept me from adding to this blog.   But, after the tragedies and doing your best to help those affected, life goes on…

But back to the batcave and the rain/floods:  Though we can blame the unusual amount of rainfall on climate change, and the clogged drains on pollution, and denuded forests for the landslides, I always think… it’s been pouring buckets on this country forever!  We just never pre-plan anything here (except for the latest product launch and celeb debut, but I digress), and we never learn from from the past.

Just to prove my point, check out this vintage political cartoon from the 1931 Free Press (below):

Free Press Political Flood Cartoon

Deja Vuuuuu....

Hmm, except for the vintage cars and outfits, and a shark in the water instead of the seriously real crocodiles and snakes from the September flooding, this looks sooo familiar…



Sophia Loren does not like you…

 I think Jayne Mansfield’s in trouble.

Get this woman and her bread rolls away from Sophia!

Sophia Loren visits our planet

sophia loren

I posted this photo a month ago of Sophia Loren holding two items that every Filipino who grew up in the ’60s-’70s is familiar with — the dreaded wooden giant spoon & fork. 

That photo was actually taken from Sophia’s 1971 cookbook, In Cucina Con Amore (published in English as “Eat With Me”).  I’ve been wanting this book for a while because the recipes were all written by Sophia herself.  Imagine, owning a cookbook from a woman who once said about her famously voluptous figure:  “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”  Take that, anti-carb crusaders!

I'm eating some spaghetti today!

I'm eating some spaghetti today!

As much as I love Sophia, I think some of the photos from her cookbook are just hilarious.  It’s like she’s some alien visitor to our planet, the way she poses with food.  Mangia mangia!

Posing with wheels of cheese - "Meet my new friends"

"Come cheese, let us smile for the camera"

Posing with meat products - "And this, what is this? Get it away from Sophia"

"What is this little oily product? Get it away from Sophia"

Posing with desserts - "What is this I am touching?"


Posing with pheasant friends

"Sophia likes you, stuffed pheasant birds. Come, let us pose holding each other."

Pre-war Manila was so beautiful

I love looking at old photos.  Black and white photographs always evoke a sense of nostalgia in me, even if they’re of a history I wasn’t a part of.  Looking at old photos of Manila is especially interesting because the images capture a world that really seems forever lost to time.  As our grandparents’ and their friends’ stories go, these were the days when people shopped on Escolta wearing smart hats and white suits, when weekends were spent swimming and picnicking on the banks of the Pasig River, and when you got dressed to enjoy a night out at the Jai Alai Building’s Sky Room. 

To give a better sense of what pre-war Manila was like, I’m posting old photos of the Philippines that I found in the LIFE Magazine Photo Archives.   This amazing set of photographs was taken in November 1941 Manila, the week before the outbreak of war with Japan.  The days of calm before the storm…


The beautiful Jai Alai building, designed by Welton Becket, who also did the iconic Capitol Records Tower in LA:

The Welton Becket-designed art deco Jai Alai Building

The Welton Becket-designed art deco Jai Alai Building


 Watching a game of Jai-Alai:

1942 Jai Alai Game


The main commercial district, Escolta:

When men wore white suits...

When men wore white suits...


Inside a Manila Department Store:

Taken during the Christmas Holidays, a week before war with Japan...

Taken in late November a week before Pearl Harbor, stores were ready to celebrate Christmas.


View of the busy Sta. Cruz Plaza, Manila:

1942 Sta Cruz Plaza Manila


Japanese businesses still open:

1942 Japanese Bazaar


The Manila City Hall and its manicured courtyard:

1942 City Hall


Shopping at stalls near the Quiapo Church:

We loved tiangges even back then...

We loved tiangges even back then...


Lovely interiors of the Quiapo Church:

1942 Quiapo Church


Having lunch at the Manila Polo Club:

1942 Polo Club


Getting ready to watch a baseball game, Manila Polo Club:

1942 Polo Club


View of the clean, art-deco Quezon Bridge:

Note that we used to drive on the left side of the street

Note that we used to drive on the left side of the street


When men used to wear hats… a second-hand hat stall off Carriedo St.:



Manila Hotel swimming pool:



Ready for what’s coming- the popularity contest winner of the Manila College of Pharmacy smiles and shows her support for the boys:

1942 Winner

Great Early Philippine Political Cartoons…

The book “Philippine Cartoons – Political Caricatures of the American Era 1900-1941” by Alfred McCoy and Alfredo Roces is a treasure trove of information on how things used to be.   Aside from the cartoons featuring the Manila Carnival, and the one about the passing of an ordinance in 1930 to get live pigs off the streets (!), I love these that depict public outrage at UP following the American example and allowing coeducation.  We’ve come a long way!


Wild kids dating and going to the movies

Coeducation = going to Pasay together... at 2pm!

Coeducation = going to Pasay together... at 2pm!

Was Sophia Loren ever in the Philippines?

Because I don’t know how to explain this photo.  Unless someone gave the set to her as pasalubong?   I’m hoping someone finds a photo of her with a giant wooden rosary…

Sophia with giant spoon & fork

Sophia with giant spoon & fork

 Sophia spoon & fork update HERE