Category Archives: Pre-war Manila

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…

 

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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.:

hats1942

 

Manila Hotel swimming pool:

hotel1942

 

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!

political1

Wild kids dating and going to the movies

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

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