Saturday, June 21, 2014


FILIPINAS AT THE FAIR! The Philippine Exhibit was assigned the largest space in the fairgrounds of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, and a multitude of structures were built to serve as exhibit halls and residences of some 1,100 Filipinos (mostly tribal groups)  flown in to animate the event. No wonder, the Philippine Exhibit caused a major sensation

 “Meet me at St. Louis…meet me at the Fair!” 
So goes the lyrics of the period song that served as the unofficial theme of a magnificent American fair that was dubbed as “the greatest of expositions”, surpassing everything the world has seen before, in terms of cost, size and splendor, variety of views, attendance and duration.

 The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, opened officially on 30 April 1904, to mark the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Louisiana from France by the U.S.- a vast area that comprised almost 1/3 of continental America. From this land were carved the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and sections of Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming.

 Save for Delaware and Florida, all the states and territories of America participated in all the activities at the sprawling 1,275 acre fairgrounds that took all of 6 years to build. As a U.S. territory, the Philippines joined 45 nations in organizing a delegation as well as the construction of its own exhibit grounds—the largest in the fair-- to house pavilions, recreated villages, presentations and native Filipino groups.

 Much have been said about the Philippine representation that included “living museums” with ethnic tribes (Samal, Negrito, Igorottes, Bagobos), and regional groups (Visayans, Tagalogs) showing their traditional way of living in replicated villages.

Before large audiences, Igorots demonstrated their culinary practices by eating dogs, while Negritos shot arrows and climbed trees. A pair of Filipino midgets were also featured stars, together with English-speaking, harp-playing Tagalas who represented the more “civilized’ side of the Philippines.

 On a more positive note, the Philippine Constabulary Band dazzled and thrilled crowds with their impressive and stirring performance of march music while the Philippine Scouts, composed mostly of smartly-dressed Macabebe soldiers ("Little Macs", as they were called by their American fans) , performed military drills with precision and aplomb.

 Then there were the superlative government exhibits that showcased the richness of Philippine talents and resources. There were exhibits in various categories: Forestry, Arts, Crafts, Cuisine, Education, Agriculture and Horticulture, Fish, Game and Water Transport and other industries. Tasked with the purchase of collecting and installing these distinctively Filipino exhibits for the St. Louis World’s Fair was the Philippine Exposition Board, specially created by the Philippine Commission.

The Board was allotted an initial budget of $125,000, with a further appropriation of up to $250,000 to mount a world-class exhibit that would show the commercial, industrial, agricultural, cultural, educational and economic gains made by our islands under Mother America.

 Recognitions were given by the organizers of the World’s Fair for country participants where their entries were judged by an international jury. Over 6,000 of various colors were won by the Philippines. Among those granted the honors were many outstanding Kapampangans who were represented by their inventive and creative works that wowed both the crowds of St. Louis and also the esteemed jury. 

In the category of Ethnography, the Silver Prize went to the Negrito Tribe (tied with the Bagobos) that counted Aetas from Pampanga as among the tribe members. They wre represented by Capt. Medio of Sinababawan and Capt. Batu Tallos, of Litang Pampanga.

 The Products of Fisheries yielded the following Kapampangan winners who produced innovative fishing equipment. Bronze Medals: Ambrosio Evangelista, Diego Reyes (Candaba); Fulgencio Matias (Sta. Ana); Macario Tañedo (Tarlac). Honorable Mentions: Alfredo Arnold, Epifanio Arceo, Pedro Lugue, Jacinto De Leon, Pascual Lugue, Mario Torres (Apalit); Eugenio Canlas, Teodoro de los Santos (Sto. Tomas); Andres Lagman (Minalin); Rita Pangan (Porac); Thos. J. Mair, Medeo Captacio (identified only as coming from Pampanga).

 Pampanga schools also performed commendably, with various winners in the Public School Exhibits, Elementary Division. Bronze medal winners include the town schools of Apalit, Arayat, Bacolor, Candaba and San Fernando, while Honorable Mentions were merited by Betis, Guagua and Mabalacat.

In the Secondary School division, Pampanga High School of San Fernando too home the Bronze. From among entries in the General Collective Exhibit category, Mexico was chosen to receive a Silver Medal. The Bronze went to Macabebe and San Fernando, while Honorable Mentions list included Bacolor, Candaba, Floridablanca, Magalang and Sta. Rita.

 The Fine Arts competition produced two Pampanga residents: Rafael Gil who won Silver for his mother-of-pearl art creation. Gil, and the highly regarded Bacolor artist, Simeon Flores (posthumous), also won Honorable Mentions for their paintings.

 The culinary traditions of Pampanga were made known to the world at the St. Louis World’s Fair through the sweet kitchen concoctions of several ‘kabalens’. Angeles was ably represented by Trifana Angeles Angeles (preserved orange peel) ; Irene Canlas (preserved melon); Carlota C. Henson (preserves and jellies); Januario Lacson (santol preserves); Isabel Mercado (preserved limoncito); Atanacio Rivera de Morales (santol preserves, buri palm preserves); Zoilo and Marcelino Nepomuceno (mango jelly); Aurelia Torres (santol preserves) andYap Siong (anisada corriente, anis espaseosa) Mabalaqueñas also tickled taste buds with their homemade desserts: Rafaela Ramos Angeles (preserved fruit, santol preserves); Maria Guadalupe Castro (santol jelly) and Justa de Castro (kamias fruit preserve).

 The World’s Fair at St. Louis closed at midnight on 1 December 1904, and was declared a huge success—thanks in part to the blockbuster Philippine exhibits enriched by the modest contributions of Kapampangans who proved equal to the challenge, to emerge as world-class citizens.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

*368. JULIAN MANANSALA , The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films

MASANTOL'S MOVIE MAN. Julian Manansala, director, producer, film makee, was known as "The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films" for his many movies with patriotic themes.

 The esteemed director-peliculero from Masantol who would leave a name in Philippine movie history as a foremost producer of patriotic and historical films, was born Julian Manansala on 28 January 1899, to Miguel Manansala and Leoniza Mendoza. Julian, ho also was an accomplished layer, comes from an artistic family that counts Vicente Silva Manansala as a member; the future national artist is his nephew.

 In his teens, he was quite a popular figure in his hometown, heading social clubs like “Bulaclac ning Pamacalugud  in 1913 and as an adult, “Batis ning Tula” and ‘’Panyulat Capampangan’’, a literary group. He moved to Manila for his high school education, which he finished at the National University in 1915. Manansala next pursued his Bachelor of Laws, at Escuela de Derecho, which he completed in 1919.

 After taking the bar, he opted to work in Washington D.C. as a Solicitor for Pensioners for over 200 Filipino veteran soldiers who fought for America, helping them secure their benefits and rights as provided by the Law of Pensions and Compensations. He held this post at the Bureau of Pension from 1921-28.

Upon his return to the Philippines, Manansala surprised everyone when he jumped into the fledgling Philippine movie industry bandwagon, joining pioneers Juan Nepomuceno, Atty. Vicente Salumbides, Sen. Jose Vera and Dña. Narcisa vda. De Leon. After all, he had always believed in taking risks and capitalizing on opportunities: ‘’Samantalanan me at gamitan ing guintu mung panahun, qñg pamagaral ang metung a cabiasnan a talagan cajiligan mu, ebala ing nung emu man abalu ing aliwa,uling mayap at pakinabangnan mu nung lunto cang especialista qñg metung a cabiasnan, kesa qñg abalu mu ing sabla, dapot puguit naca man dili.’’ (Grab and use your time of gold to learn one field of interest. Do not worry if you cannot learn everything—it is better to be a master of one, than to be a Jack of all trades).

 Manansala directed his first movie, ‘’Patria Amore’’ in 1929, and proved to be a masterful film make. The movie created quite a stir with its direct reference to Spanish abuses. Considered as discriminatory, the Spanish community filed a case in court, asking to stop the screening of the movie for fear of a backlash against them. The request for a restraining order was denied. From thenceforth, Manansala continued to produce a list of movies with strong nationalistic themes.

 The next year, in 1930, he completed ‘’Dimasalang’’, starring Mary Walter and kabalen, Dr. Gregorio Fernandez, who would also foray into directing. He next signed up with Banahaw Pictures Corp. as its Technical Director and megged ‘’Ang Kilabot ng mga Tulisan’’ (1932), with Dolly Garcia and Salvador Zaragosa.

Unhappy being an employee, he resigned to put up his own Liberty Cinema Corp. Manansala directed and produced ‘’Pag-ibig ng Kadete’’, headlined by the Kapampangan poet, Amado Yuson. He next shot “Mutya ng Katipunan” (1939), with favorite actress, Arsenia Francisco, whom he would use again in one of his last films, “Tawag ng Bayan’’(1940).

 His political interest was piqued when he became the Secretary-General of Manila-based ‘’Nais Capampangan’’. Later, he would also join the consolidated Nationalist Party in Manila as a committee president, for 6 years.

 When his heyday as a filmmaker was over, Manansala returned to his first love--Law. A full 26 years after his graduation, he was finally admitted to the Philippine bar on 19 November 1945, and practiced his profession. He was married to married Donata Quito, 1921, with whom he had 4 children: Antonio, Bonifacio (who would also become a very successful criminal lawyer , at times, working side-by-side with his father), Carolina and Donata.

 Manansala lived by his life credo: ‘’Ing catapatan qng sinta qng calupang cayanacan, qñg meguing cabislac na ning caldua, at qñg Indung Balen, landas neng tune ning pamagtagumpe at caligayan.’’ (Your faith in your young love, in your soul mate, and in your Motherland are the real paths to achieving personal glory and fulfillment). Manansala has certainly treaded on the right path; today, lawyer-director is known as the First Father of Philippine Nationalist Films.