Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina served as the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. In this rare photo by Harris & Ewing, he poses happily after his marriage to Aurora Antonia Aragon. During his presidency, he paved the way for the creation of an independent democratic republican government for the country, revamping the government into how we see it today. He enacted laws to address social justice, agrarian reform, educational reform and women’s suffrage, to name a few. After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, he evacuated to Corregidor and eventually to Australia, then to the United States to lead the government in exile. He suffered from tuberculosis in April 1944 while in the US and died on August 1, 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York.
Besides borrowing photos from archivists and libraries, Jawid also gets commissioned works like this photo of an anonymous society lady in red traje de mestiza and two men in white American suits. At the turn-of the-century, men and women dressed grandly every day. When the Americans came, much of Philippine fashion was influenced by Western designs and textiles, until the Commonwealth Period ignited a cultural shift and gave Philippine attire such as the traje de mestiza, the terno, and the barong tagalog a second wind.
Pura Villanueva y Garcia, the first Manila Carnival Queen. She was crowned Queen of the Orient in 1908 in this annual festival that celebrated the harmonious US-Philippine relations. It was more than a beauty pageant as candidates were chosen from affluent and powerful families all over the country. It also showcased the commercial, industrial and agricultural progress of the Philippines during its two week-long festivities held at the old Wallace Field, where the National Library of the Philippines now stands.
General of the US Army Douglas MacArthur was perhaps the most important figure in the Pacific theatre during World War II. In this 1918 photo, MacArthur was just a brigadier general in France, posing after the Germans left St Benoit Chateau. Being a soldier’s son himself, MacArthur lived his whole life in the US Army. He was assigned to the Philippines and became the Chief of Staff in 1930. He is remembered for his famous phrase, “I shall return”, vowing to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese imperial forces as he escaped to Melbourne. In October 1944, the world witnessed his and his troop’s dramatic landing at Palo, Leyte and how this led to the liberation of the country.
National Hero Dr Jose Rizal flashes a rare smile in this photograph archived by Correos Filipinas. In a more complete photo, Rizal was with Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Nellie Boustead at a christening party. Rizal was one of the many ilustrados sent to Europe by their families to study and find career opportunities. If not for their religious differences, Rizal and Boustead would have married and Rizal would have led a privileged life in Paris as an ophthalmologist. But he came back to the Philippines in 1892, a year after he published El Filibusterismo. He also formed La Liga Filipina, a civic movement which stood for radical social reforms through legal means. He was declared an enemy of the state by the Spanish authorities and exiled to Dapitan. The historian Leon Ma Guerrero wrote, “It was Rizal as we have seen, who taught his countrymen that they could be something else, Filipinos who were members of a Filipino nation… Rizal is also the first Filipino because he is first in the hearts of the Filipinos.”
Though most of the significant architectures in Escolta, Binondo, Quiapo and Ermita were obliterated during the war, some remain to this day such as the San Agustin Church, the only one left intact after the destruction of Intramuros. With the combined efforts of the local government and private entities, buildings, bridges and monuments have been restored and rebuilt. The devastation of the war forced the relocation of affluent families from Ermita, San Miguel and Intramuros to then developing areas like Makati, San Juan and Quezon cities. The Senate and Congress moved to various temporary locations until they found their homes in Pasay and Quezon cities, respectively, decades later. Commerce and trade remained strong in Manila but eventually, the evolution of the economy sought greater heights in the Ortigas and Makati business districts.
Jack Birns’ 1949 photograph for Time of a lone magazine stand on Rizal corner Claro M Recto Avenues in Quiapo, Manila shows various other titles like Life, Newsweek, Collier’s, and more, as well as a few pocketbooks and digests on sale. Archived by John Tewell, Birns’ photographs of post-WWII Philippines evoke a distant past where urban daily life consists of leisure readings, cinemas in Escolta, rides in colourful jeepneys and rebuilding of ravaged structures in Intramuros.
Blaring horns and blazing heat distinguished Manila from other cities in the Philippines during the late 1940s in this photo by Jack Birns, archived by John Tewell. Post-war, the face of Manila drastically changed and became mired in its desperate economic and socio-political recovery. Still, the country’s capital remained as every Filipino’s dream.
Restored and colourised by Adlai Jan Garcia Jawid; May 1910: Nine Kings assembled at Buckingham Palace for the funeral of Edward VII, the Father of George V (centre). From left to right, back row: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece and Albert I Of Belgium. Front row: Alphonso XIII of Spain, George V and Frederick VIII of Denmark. (Photo by W. & D. Downey / Getty Images)
Solvay Conference on quantum mechanics at the Institute International de Physique Solvay, Brussels, Belgium, in 1927.
The grand staircase on the RMS Olympic, photographed in 1911 by William H. Rau.