Saturday, November 21, 2009

Puente De España ca. 1900s

The "Tranvia" or the streetcar was used to ply around Manila until 1945 when the system was destroyed by the war. It was never restored.

This bridge was used to be called "Puente de Espana" or Bridge of Spain which was later called Jones Bridge. The bridge was also destroyed during World War II.

On the upper left of the photo you can see The Insular Ice Plant that was torn down to make way for the LRT bridge coming from San Marcelino... supposedly this smokestack was a landmark of prewar Manila as was the whistle that would sound off every hour.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Real Compañia De Filipinas

Compañia Real de Filipinas or the Royal Company of the Philippines was established in March 1785 by a royal decree. Its' purpose was to promote direct trade between the Philippines and Spain. In addition, it was established to exploit the natural resources of the islands.

Compañia Real de Filipinas had monopoly on the trading industry and it opened a large access to goods from the orient which were imported locally into the island. It gain a lot of oppositions in the Philippines and abroad. It however reduced its monopoly rights as the company began to grow and competitions among other companies became fierce. It was originally financed with 32,000 shares of 250 pesos each (5,000 reales), the company counted among its shareholders the King and many major banks. The company then later issued bonds to raise capitals. It absorbed the assets of the Barcelona Company.

The tensions between Spain and England negatively affected the operations of Compañia Real de Filipinas. From 1796, it never again prospered. In 1834, the company was abolished by the Spanish crown due to poor management and financial losses.

Filipino Farm Life ca. 1900s

The "Lusong" is the wooden mortar where they pound the rice with a wooden pestle called "Halo" or "Pambayo" to separate the chaff from the grain. The island of Luzon is said to derive its name from this mortar seen in every house as pounding rice was then a daily grind.

Then a winnowing basket called "Bilao" is used to separate the chaff or with the bigger contraption called "Kiskisan" where a fan is turned by hand to blow the chaff away.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pasig River, Manila, 1902

Launches & Cascos on the Beautiful Pasig River...

It used to be an important transport route in Old Spanish Manila. However, due to negligence and industrial development, the river has become very polluted and is considered dead (unable to sustain life) by Ecologists.

Binondo Church, Chinatown, Manila, 1902

Binondo Church is located in Manila's Chinatown at the western end of Ongpin Street, Binondo.

This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed by a bombardment by the British in 1762 during their brief occupation of Manila at that time.

The current granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 and features an octagonal bell tower which suggests the Chinese culture of the parishioners.

Binondo Church was greatly damaged during the Second World War, although fortunately the western facade and the octagonal bell tower survived.

Binondo Church is also known as the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz. It was named after the sacristan, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, trained in this church and afterwards went as a missionary to Japan and was executed there for refusing to renounce his religion.

San Lorenzo Ruiz was to be the Philippines' first saint and he was canonized in 1989. A large statue of the martyr stands in front of the church.

Masses are held in Filipino, in Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Hokkien), and in English.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sangley Filipina

Sangley (Sangleye, Sangley Mestizo, Mestisong Sangley, Mestizo de Sangley or Chinese mestizo; plural: Sangleys or Sangleyes), is an archaic term used in the Philippines to describe and classify a person of pure Chinese ancestry, while mestizo de sangley was used to refer to a person of mixed Chinese and Malayo-Polynesian ancestry. (The latter were referred to as Indio during the Spanish Colonial Period.) Sangley mestizo was a term widely used in the 16th to 19th-century Spanish Philippines to differentiate ethnic Chinese from other types of island mestizos (such as those of mixed Indio and Spanish ancestry.) The Chinese mestizos were granted the legal status of colonial subjects of Spain, with certain rights and privileges denied both the pure-blooded Chinese immigrants (sangleys) and indigenous persons (indios).

Today, Tsinito (literally, "little Chinese man", in Spanish, Chinito) is widely used to describe a Sangley, but it is also commonly applied to Filipinos of other East Asian ancestries (Japanese, Korean, etc.) who possess similar physical features. Tsinoy or Chinese Filipino, on the other hand, is used to refer to Filipinos specifically of Chinese descent, regardless of cultural orientation or racial pedigree. Among Chinese-Filipino mestizos, many use and prefer the generic term mestizo to describe themselves.

Sangley comes from the Hokkien Chinese word seng-di (traditional Chinese:生意; POJ: seng-lí), meaning "business". Although mestizo de sangley literally means "mixed-race (person) of business", its implicit meaning is "mixed-race (person) of Chinese descent". The closest etymological relation is the Spanish term: "mestizo de sangre", which literally means "of mixed blood". By default, mestizo without the qualifying de sangley means a "mixed-race (person) of Spanish/European and indio ancestry". But, due to the relatively few español mestizos in the Philippines, as commonly used, mestizo refers to mestizo de sangley. This was explained by W. E. Retana in testimony before the United States Philippine Commission (1899-1900) and in his Diccionario de filipinismos (1921). The term chino mestizo was also used interchangeably with mestizo de sangley.

From Mr. John Silva:

"People have been commenting on the profile photo of the woman with a fan. I first found this photo at the Musee De L'Homme in Paris in 1985. The picture is only identified as Sangley Filipina meaning Chinese Filipina. As a photo historian and... collector I have dated this photograph around 1870's and the photographer is Francisco Van Kamp. He was a European that had a photo studio in Manila.

The photograph is unusual because the woman exhibits a subtle and alluring look in start contrast to photos of women, mostly modest looking of that period. Her hair glistens with coconut oil and her fan, half open means she is single.

I have shared that photograph since to others and there have been findings of the same photo in other repositories. But I am pleased to have found it myself since the photo was actually misplaced in the French museum. They had put this picture under Tahiti! I made sure it was back in the Philippine folder!"

A 1925 Tourist In Manila

A CERTAIN Juan Potous came by a little over a quarter of a century since his country had ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Versailles. He was pleasantly surprised to find that street names and places still bore Spanish names such as Novaliches, Issac Peral (UN Avenue), Sanchez Barcaiztegui, Alvarado, General Solano, Carriedo, Alejandro Farnesio, Azcarraga, Balmes, Basco, Benavides, Marques de los Castillejos, Churruca, Duque de Alba, Echague, Elcano, Marques de Comillas, O'Donell. Other names were de España, Lepanto, El Dorado, Estado, Estrella, Evangelista, Fraternidad, Alhambra, Galicia, Globo de Oro, Granate, Habana, Herran, Hormiga, Industria, Jaboneros, Colorado, Mejorada, Misericordia, Muralla, Numancia, Palma, Panaderos, Paraiso, Peñalosa, Peñafrancia, Peñarubia, Reina Regente, Salsipuedes, Tenorio, Toneleros. (I name them so that you may take note of how many have been changed since then.)

Aside from that there was the Calle de Tetuan that started in the Plaza Santa Cruz and ended in Gandara. (Recently renamed Padilla, a politician whose family still owns a lot of Binondo/San Nicolas properties.) The most frequented thoroughfare it seems at the time was none other than the Paseo de la Luneta. The boulevard had been christened Dewey but people continued to call it Boulevard de Cavite to the delight of resident Spaniards to whom the name Dewey did not elicit any happy memories. (Since renamed Roxas but the Spanish community dwindled to a minimum number and the younger generation tuned in to US culture.)

Potous found the Luneta Nueva or New Luneta one of the most "delicious" natural places in Manila because the hand of man had done little to embellish it, i.e. the lily wasn't gilded. Oddly enough the custom of taking the air at the Luneta from the Spanish times was continued but this time instead of carriages there was an interminable line of cars at the border of the "paseo" with distinguished ladies, respectable gentlemen and beautiful girls inside them. Nobody though got down to walk around or greet each other.

Potous was struck by the Filipinas' habit of wearing their hair long and hanging down their backs without any hairpins. He was also impressed by the elegance of the inhabitants of Manila. Everyone appeared to be in white or ecru perhaps since he describes their shirts as a species of transparent gauze (piña?), richly decorated.

Women wore long skirts with a train pinned to one side prompting him to wonder of what use it had since it was never let loose. The materials favored were brightly colored, the women's arms and shoulders for the most part bare. To cover the low neck line, especially in the street, a large shoulder piece "de quita y pon" (literally, take out and put), usually white and decorated with large flowers was draped on. Their feet and legs were bare of stockings and as a rule no one went unshod but wore slippers of red velvet.

The Spanish colony in the islands conceived of constructing a building that would be called Casa de España to house its consulate, the Casino Español and its Chamber of Commerce. Thus an extensive property was bought in what then was considered the best place in Manila. The project owed its success no less to a contractor called Farre (Luneta Hotel), el Conde de Peracamps a.k.a. Antonio Melian (El Hogar) and Gen. Las Heras.

In the center of the building extended a hall of "colossal" proportions called the Salon de Actos (Arcos?). From its ceiling hang huge chandeliers and the floors were of hardwood donated by Doña Trinidad Ayala de Zobel. From the sides radiated reception rooms, dressing rooms, a general dining hall and a lecture room where free Spanish lessons were taught. Enormous Japanese and Chinese jars as well as other pieces of porcelain decorated the salons.

There was a beautiful terrace leading to the tennis courts and the fronton of pelota as well as a more informal dining area. Facing the terrace as well was the library, and a barbershop.

Potous had the pleasure upon his arrival of attending a night time fiesta celebrated in the church of San Pedro de Malate to solemnize the feast of Our Lady of Remedies. The church was full of parishioners and the candles in front of the virgin's image looked as though they could total hundreds. There were more than six persons taking care of installing the candles and keeping them lighted.

Although the interior of the church appeared to glitter in gold, the fair celebrated in the plaza of Malate and the streets around were more interesting to him because they reminded him of the fiestas of Spain by the number of stalls where food and other articles were for sale. A seemingly disorderly multitude of natives, mestizos (half-breeds), and foreigners circulated through the aisles between the stalls.

Among the things for sale were sweets that seemed to form pyramids in the stall counters. The most extraordinary were the names completely unknown to the author of course: Madoya, dinuguan con poto, goto, ukoy, palitaw, buche, bico, bichobicho and pilipit. Fruits such as sincamas, lanzones, santol, lomboy, casuy, apulid, sungay kalabao, camachile, cabezas de negritos and balatong were sold. Old timers assured him that the "verbenas" had lost their vitality and gaiety since Spanish sovereignty had ceased over the archipelago. But this wasn't apparent to Potous who saw in this fiesta in Malate the vestiges of that old Spanish culture.

("Un Año en Manila," Juan Potous y Martinez, 1925)

The Jai Alai Building

One of Manila's most striking structures, the Jai Alai building was neglected for years before demolition began.

The Game's Over
A link with the past goes as Manila's Jai Alai stadium is torn down

Ignore, if you can, the poverty and garbage that spill on to the city's streets. Block out the sight of vagabond children hawking tat at traffic intersections. Peer, instead, through the diesel fumes and back to a time when Manila was a gentler place, a blossoming metropolis tipped to be the pride of Asia. This was in the years just before World War II, when the Philippine Commonwealth was preparing for independence from the U.S. and anything seemed possible. Among the jewels of that period: Taft Avenue, a mini-Champs Elysee, with grand homes, sparkling movie houses, colleges and spectacular Art Deco buildings. One of the finest was the Jai Alai stadium, opened in 1940 as a home for the Basque game of the same name and quickly adopted as a playground by the rich and glamorous.

Today, little of the old Taft Avenue is left. Grimy and eternally ensnarled in traffic, it is clogged by too many people living in too little space, with many of the old buildings flattened by American or Japanese bombs. And, as of last week, the Jai Alai building was just about gone too. Despite a determined and emotional campaign to save it, the Art Deco edifice was being pulled down to make way for a court building. Conservationists are livid but powerless. With the disappearance of the sports center, they say, the Philippine capital has lost one of the few remaining landmarks from a time when the city cherished elegance. Says John L. Silva, a member of the Heritage Conservation Society: "Every time we tear down an old structure, particularly one that resonates with history and milestones, we as a people lose another marker that explains who we are as a nation, where we came from and where we are going."

The four-story Jai Alai building was the work of noted American architect Welton Becket, a friend of Hollywood celebrities and designer of the homes of such screen legends as James Cagney and Cesar Romero, as well as of Los Angeles airport. The Jai Alai's sleek, cylindrical glass front was said to evoke the velocity of the game, in which pelotaris use curved scoops to hurl a rubber ball at speeds of up to 200 km an hour against three walls of a court. But the building was a lot more than a sports hall. Every night, Manila's socialites would gather in the elegant Sky Room to party and dine. Those seated closest to the balcony could also watch the competition. "They had a grand view of the game," says Silva, a consultant to the National Museum. "They would conduct bets through the waiters while enjoying dinner." Says newspaper columnist, socialite and conservationist Bambi Harper: "Back then, the Sky Room was really the only place to hold big functions, aside from the Manila Hotel."

Silva says the disappearance of the Jai Alai building is one more example of city hall's "consistent disregard" for Manila's cultural past. Writing in the Philippine Inquirer, he accuses: "Last year, it tried to destroy the Army Navy building, now the Museo ng Maynila [Manila Museum], and to gobble up the adjoining Museong Pambata [Children's Museum] by attempting to put up a boutique and shopping mall." He says another Manila landmark, the 69-year-old Metropolitan Theater, is in a poor state because of lack of official attention. "When it rains, it pours inside the Met," he complains.

Before its eventual demise, the Jai Alai building had gone the same way, accelerated toward its fate by the anything-goes years of the Marcos regime, during which it was closed in a match-fixing scandal. Under the control of the national government, it fell into disrepair, as did the neighborhood. Those who could afford to get out got out, replaced by squatters living in shacks, with, at first, a red-light district around the corner and now a rumbling Light Rail Transit system overhead. The sport of jai alai, meaning "merry festival," returned to Manila in 1994, but to new premises a short distance from the original. The old building was handed over to the City of Manila in 1999.

Mayor Lito Atienza, who studied architecture in college, says he is aware of the Jai Alai building's pedigree, but argues that it was necessary to tear it down. He believes the need for a new courthouse far outweighs the sports center's historical value. "I've been given an opportunity by the national government to build a hall of justice," he told Asiaweek. "I am proceeding with the task even if we have to sacrifice part of our historical past in the process." To suggestions that the Jai Alai building could have been saved and adapted as a court, he replies: "That building has been housing criminals, [purse-] snatchers and pickpockets and even deteriorated into a casbah. It would not work as a new justice building if we kept the faCade because people would remember the game-fixing and the cheating, instead of the dignity that befits a hall of justice. It just wouldn't blend."

Atienza is portraying the demolition of the Jai Alai building as the beginning of the rehabilitation of Taft Avenue — "You get a hall of justice and you get rid of a decaying part of Manila." Conservationists concur about the need to clean up the district, but argue that there was no need to pull down the building. Says Silva: "The Heritage Conservation Society felt the building was a good candidate for adaptive re-use. The demolition was completely unnecessary." Many people agree. Columnist Harper would have liked to see the Jai Alai turned into a college or a modern-art gallery. Architect Emmanuel MiNana envisaged a mixed-use building with podium parking, a commercial mall, office space, and high-end service apartments or a hotel on the upper floors. He says such a development would also have generated good revenue for the government, "an all-win situation with regards to the balance of preserving a large part of a building's cultural heritage as well as providing an economically viable solution that is realistic for the City of Manila."

Urban economist Raymund Magdaluyo believes the Jai Alai building could have been converted into a world-class theater, bringing culture back to Manila "big time." The mayor thinks all this unfeasible. "We cannot keep clinging to the past in the name of conservation if government has limited resources," he says.

As the demolition team prepared to move in July 15 for 45 days of work, conservationists stepped up their efforts to save the building. They held demonstrations at the site and blitzed city hall with e-mails. Says Silva: "Many neighboring countries and cities have now recognized that buildings with such distinctions go a long way to promoting national and cultural pride." Atienza was not convinced. Nor was the presidential palace, which let it be known that President Joseph Estrada would not intervene.

Atienza promises to protect Manila's remaining landmarks. The Heritage Conservation Society says it will believe that when it sees it. It argues that the only guarantee is legislation to safeguard old buildings. Meanwhile, conservationists have a new slogan — "Remember the Jai Alai."