Category Archives: Mga Antigong Larawan

Old Photos & Upcoming Podcasts

I recently hauled some old photos from an antique dealer. It’s a pass time that I can’t stop myself from doing. Even after repeated warnings that I could bring home some haunted photos one of these days. I do this thinking that I’m saving these things from being lost.

Well, I’m not scared of being haunted but I am haunted by the thought of how these photos ended up heaped in a shoe box to be sold. Shopkeepers would tell you that somebody brought these photos to them and that they have no clue who owns them. I’m certain that whoever peddled these photos does not have a personal attachment to them.

In most cases, I would notice collections belonging to one family. Which saddens me because it means that a family member who inherited the album containing the photos abandoned them. We all want our children and their children to remember us. What if they’re not interested to keep what we left behind for them?

I could see a comparison here with Filipinos abandoning their ancestral houses. Not understanding and appreciating its history, they end up disposing it for profit. These houses are then demolished and the land beneath it developed. When people tell me that we should not dwell in the past I remind them that we’re not supposed to instead we must build on it.

This batch have some written notes. It appears that it belongs to one Amanda Viola Viray of Malabon. I looked her up on the web and found her.

“Atty. AMANDA VIOLA-VIRAY. Family Name: VIOLA-VIRAY First Name: AMANDA Hometown: Date admitted to the Philippine Bar: December 24, 1938.”

She must have lived a comfortable life. She traveled, attended galas, festivals, nuptials, excursions and seminars. There were hundreds of photos of her stack in a box.

Atty. Viray took interesting pictures. There was one that I find rather curious. Pictures of cloud formations. She must have sought to capture its glowing colors but technology then limited cameras to black and white. I wonder if she liked the results when it came out.

The Abogada in an unknown location. One thing I learned from printed photos is that it’s important to put notes on it. I wonder where this was taken. This must have been taken in the 50’s. The guy on the jeep photobombing!

Most of the photos I took are like this one. Random shots of people and places. This one’s the Quirino grandstand in the 50’s. Notice the edifice-like structure behind it. It was later removed and the seat capacity expanded. This must have been taken by the same person.

Look at the menacing stare of that suman tindero! He doesn’t like cameras I can tell. Most of the photos were taken in the early 50’s. Not even a decade had passed after the devastating war and yet the photos shows a very normal and sane environment. 

This is my favorite. A procession as seen from a window. Takes you there when Filipinos used to watch events as it pass below. I have a hunch that this was in Malabon. Some photos I saw had Malabon, Rizal as the Abogada’s hometown.

To see more of some of the old photos I published here, click hereI should update this much often. I love old photos and I have to share more. I know.

I did a podcast with the untiring historian, Pio Andrade Jr., earlier at Arellano University in Legarda. I recorded more than two hours and I will probably split it in two parts. As always, the University of Florida alumni, dished out historical wisdom and witticisms!

You think of historians as boring but this guy’s definitely not. While he has been weaken by his ailments, his mind is still in top form. His memory is as good, if not better, than mine.

The blogger, Pepe Alas, was supposed to join me but work prevented him the pleasure of learning from one of the sage in historical research.

In this podcast, Andrade talks about his hometown of Paracale, his drunken college days in Florida, his disgust of Marcos and his gofers, his bestselling book about Romulo, ongoing projects, his days in the Inquirer and just about everything that crossed his mind during the podcast.

I’ll have this podcast up in the coming days. Stay tuned.


Mga Antigong Larawan: New Batch of Scanned Pix

One of my favorite picture of GGR. Teaching, whether it Flamenco or Spanish or Filipino historiography, has been his life long advocacy.

Two months ago, a friend of mine, Sr. Gomez, gave me more than 200 pictures to scan. I volunteered to do it because converting old photos to digital format  is something that I enjoy doing – it’s one way of saving them for the future.

I usually scavenge antique shops for old photos. When I visit old houses, I usually ask for family albums – since I can’t take them back home with  me I would just take snapshots using my digicam.

Once these old photos are lost, their lost forever. So we have to try saving copies while we can – and since we have the technology, we can start with Lolo and Lola’s photos that often neglected.

Every pictures tells a story. They capture a time lost in the transition of Filipino tradition, values, faith and lifestyle.

I wanted to show more of GGR’s photos but knowing him (his a very personal person) I would have to keep most of what I have now.

Get together. Notice the bottle of Cokes and weird looking soda "Royal Tru Orange" bottle.

I don't know who are these children. I wonder why they look worried (with the exemption of the tallest girl at the back who managed to smile). If it were not for the jeepn in the background you would wouldn't be able to tell its here.

Mga Antigong Larawan: Hi Nick!

I don’t know if its just me or others share this feeling.

Do we still care about what our grandparents left behind – I mean, do we consider their letters, pictures, books and other personal stuff – treasures or junk?

I’m sure most of us still do care (I’d like to believe this) but whenever I look around antique shops and garage sales I  find something that tells me that some of us stopped caring.

I’m not sure if this is the case for this postcard I recently found.

I was doing my usual Sunday shopping. Looking for things old. Got this for just 10 bucks. Discounted because I overheard the tindera tell her colleague that she’s from Silay. I then butted in and told her, “My Lolo is from Silay”. She knew him, not personally, but because he was a councilor in her district. I took advantage of the connection (kapal!) asking for discounts for a couple of books I picked.

Addressed to the UN Ambassador Nick Valderrama by a man named Luis (?). The message in English speaks of a very special friendship between two people. Honestly, I don’t much about the Ambassador. Perhaps someone out there can help me one day. What I found out was that he was part of our delegation to the UN in the 1950’s. I didn’t know that UN once had offices in the Empire State Bldg., well, thanks to this wonderful postcard, now I do.

1953 was just a few years from the end of WWII(but another major war rages in Korea). Our country was being rebuilt from the ashes. Reading this postcard gives me the impression that things were back to normalcy. Or are we just fun loving? we try to have fun even during the hardest of times.

Hi Nick! After 3 wonderful weeks in Maine - fishing, canoeing & swimming in Maine lakes I've joined Patricia in Hyannis for a week in Cape Cod. We cerainly enjoyed the salty breeze and the busy blue (?) swimming, sailing, speed boat riding. Pat even tried water skiing. Looked like fun but I don't swim that well. I've quite a tan and am so rested now. Surely don't enjoy the thought of returning to NYC this coming Sunday. See you - Luis

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not supposing that the descendants of the good Ambassador threw some of his personal things away. It appears they did but who knows how this letter ended up in that antique store.

Because this one have a name and address, it was easy to find who the owner was but for most pictures and other personal effects that I find having no name (some only have initials on it) and address – I’ll never know who once treasured them.

When I look at anonymous portraits and group pictures, I think about who they were, what were their experiences, stories in life. What was life like 100 years ago? were they happy or were they just smiling for the camera?

Fascinating how time stood still, captured forever in a piece of paper.

I don’t get it why people would so easily discard such wonderful relics of people and time.

Mga Antigong Larawan: Old Photos Around President Osmeña’s House

Old houses are great source of rare photographs. Inside you’ll find aging framed portraits and photo albums that time had made brittle and discolored. Most are not being taken care of properly. This is sad because the really old ones have no negatives, no backup copies, no duplicates — once lost, their lost forever.

We all have to start digitalizing old family photographs as much as we can. This ensures that we’ll have them available for the future generation.

I found some interesting photographs around the Osmeña house so I took the opportunity to copy them. Some photos that I copied were intimate pictures of the grand ol’ man of Cebu – I’ll try to post some of them here in the future.

All of these are existing photos inside the house where the late President last resided. He must’ve enjoyed seeing them around. I hope we can all work towards the preservation and appreciation of our common heritage.

A sketch of old Cebu. To the right is the majestic Cebuano church (Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú). The houses, which are now all gone, have two floors, the lower portion is made of stone, the upper part is of wood — typical of a Filipino “Bahay na Bato” — the greatest structural design adapted to our climate and natural environment. It took centuries of trial and error to develop it into its final form. These gems are fast disappearing like snow under the intense heat of the tropical sun – seeing them in old pictures and artworks like thismakes my heart beat like a drum – nothing could be more beautiful.The entrance of the church still exist today. The narrow roads which are common in populated rich pueblo can be observed here – if you wonder why the roads are narrow, part of the reason is because it was just patterned from the old town plan. The proximity of the houses in the past was done to accomplish communal spirit and active interaction. However, it has also been a weakness as communities like these are susceptible to fire. Not far from the church is the structure that was built to shelter the cross of Magellan. The island that appears in the horizon is Bohol. Notice how close the shore was to the town.

The Cebuano politico with Japanese officials. The Japanese was already an Asian power at the time the American occupied the country. Many of our politician's looked up to Japan (some, like the Sakdalista leader and Ricarte even sought military assistance and intervention). The man wearing kimono is no other than Paterno. What was he doing with that dress? This was the Filipino fascination with Japan. They were the model of economic success and industrialization (which led to militaristic ambitions) and they were completely independent unlike the colonized Asian nations.

A 1924 sample ballot written both in English and Spanish. This brings to mind what many people today deny: that there was a generation of Filipinos that spoke Spanish. These Filipinos were not only educated (something that US tried to downplay) but was also aware of their past and their future - they were the ones who first elected their own leaders. Those who refuse this fact, refuse to see factual proof and undeniable logic. We all remember the lolo's and lola's that spoke Spanish but we still subscribe to the popular lie that Spanish was never a spoken language.

Mga Antigong Larawan: Post War Iloilo Photos

The parade of Paquito Bolero with other artistas (that includes Dolphy according to GGR). The motorcycle with sidecar are policemen while the trailing bikes are members of Panay Motorcycle Club (similar to todays widespread motorcycle groups). The street is now J.M. Basa, previously it was Casa Real, considered the city’s version of Escolta where one can find both foreign and local “bazar”. The banner hanging on top, ” I was a shoplifter” is a Hollywood movie (about to be shown in the nearby Eagle theater), so don’t worry, its not shaming a local caught shoplifting! Most of the building here are still existing today, this main road and its surrounding remains to be the busiest in the whole Panay island.

Last Saturday, I visited my friend Sr. Gomez at his home. He showed me some old photos of his and I volunteered to scan them so he can save a digital copy somewhere in his computer. Our humid weather accelerates the deterioration of such old materials, its best to scan them for safe keeping. Eveytime he’ll pull out a photograph, he would tell a dozen story about it and its just amazing how an old faded photograph can trigger great memories – and for someone like me, deeper appreciation of our past traditions and our heritage.

When he handed me an envelope-full of photographs, I just realized the gigantic task at hand – but I’m happy that he entrusted them to me, anything for the ol’ man, who not only happen to be a great friend but also a distant lolo!

I would be sharing more old photos from here on out. Since they are just in a box in the house – I’ll try to scan them and put them here for everyone to see. I have amassed a considerable collection since I normally buy some in antique shops whenever I find one. I usually get family and personal portraits of unknown people. My imagination would just take over – who are these people, what were they like, what are their occupation, what was their language – questions that arise from just looking at these tattered photos. How these picture end up in a shop’s buckets to be sold cheap, I have no clue. The only reason I can think of why I pick them up is that I don’t want to deal with the guilt of not saving them from being discarded.

If I recall what GGR said about this one correct is that this was hishometown’s (Dingle) theater during the post war years. The movie ad, “Prisipe Don Juan”, is a movie that starred Efren Reyes Sr.’s, a popular actor during his time. The movie made and shown in 1950. He was well known for his epic movies. Reyes’ is the grandson of Lola Basiang, the king of Sarsuela – Severino Reyes. Interesting is that the people seem to gather outside, was this after the movie or were they just hanging around. Striking a pose for the photographer maybe?

Sra. Conchita of Roxas City. A photo of an elegant Filipina in terno. This was sent to GGR as a keepsake. Back in the days, people use to send studio photos to friends and relatives. They would dress in traditional customes and of course give out their best smile! Some of the best photographs I’ve seen are portraits like this. They are gems, truly precious and rare.

This I believe is a relative of GGR’s. Another post war photograph in his collection. Observe how the passing on looker is dressed. Before and after the war, you’ll rarely see a Filipino in the streets wearing sleepers, shirts and sandos. Almost everyone are formally dressed (this would be the case up until the 60’s). We use to have a sense of decorum and discipline in the streets. 

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