June 16, 2009

Mid-19th century Manila

During the Ateneo de Manila's grand sesquicentennial kick-off event last Sunday, student-actors were recruited to re-create the atmosphere of 1859 Manila. They came in period costumes, walked around the Plaza de Roma and the Manila Cathedral, talked to each other about things that would have mattered to people at the time, and generally acted as if they were residents of mid-19th century Manila. Meet some of the very interesting characters of old Manila:


The pious and devout female Indios (natives), probably spinsters, were walking around the plaza praying the rosary. Sometimes, they entered the Manila Cathedral to pray inside too.

pious and devout female Indios during mid-19th century Manila

I forgot to ask if she was a Peninsulare (Spaniard born in Spain) or an Insulare (Spaniard born in the Philippines). She could even have been an Indio from a wealthy family who has traveled to Europe. On second thought, scratch that last guess. I don't think she would have been allowed to walk around unescorted if she weren't European.

lovely, young European lady during mid-19th century Manila

When it comes to cockfighting, race and education don't matter. It brought together these Mestizos (half Spaniard, half Indio) and Indios. The three on the left are obviously Ilustrados (educated) while the one on the right looks like a peasant.

different races and classes of men brought together because of cockfighting during mid-19th century Manila

Two members of the Guardia Civil (civil guard) were patrolling the area the entire time.

members of the Guardia Civil in mid-19th century Manila

A wealthy Chinese merchant was also walking around the plaza, probably to meet with European traders. He wouldn't have had his home in Intramuros though. If he were a Catholic Chinese, he would have lived in Binondo just across the Pasig River.

rich Chinese merchant in mid-19th century Manila

Two students of the Escuela Municipal de Manila, a primary school for about 30 sons of Peninsulares and Insulares, were running all over the place. Neither the Guardia Civil nor the strict spinster friends caught them.

students of the Escuela Municipal de Manila, which became the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, in mid-19th century Manila

In 1859, the city-subsidized school was turned over to the Jesuits. In 1865, when it was elevated to a secondary school, its name was changed into the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In 1902, during the American colonial period, the government stopped its subsidy and it became a private school for boys. Six years later, in 1908, the school finally dropped the word 'Municipal' from its name. It has been known as the Ateneo de Manila since then.

37 comments:

Halcyon said...

I love the photos and descriptions. The costumes are great! What a wonderful way to learn about a city with a rich such a rich and mixed history. Thanks for introducing us to all these people!

B Squared said...

Fascinating! Learn something here every day.

lunarossa said...

What beautiful photos, Hilda! And beautiful people as well! I think Filipinos are really beautiful people. And your country must be fantastic as well, judging from you photos. Wish you all the best. Ciao. A.

Lois said...

What wonderful clothes! I especially love the dresses of course. I always learn something fascinating from your posts Hilda!

Jacob said...

These photos are super fascinating...and your commentary, as usual, is excellent. It appears people really get into the spirit of this celebration.

Once again, I'm amazed at how pervasive Roman Catholicism is in your country...what was the religion before the RC missionaries arrived?

Love the costumes, and you're new photo? Well, you're just beautiful, Hilda from Manila!

Have a great day!

Leif Hagen said...

Hi Hilda with the pretty new profile picture! Your sesquicentennial portrait pictures are fun - must have been a lively display of characters!

Jim said...

Neat way to give a history lesson. You just made learning fun.

Cezar and Léia said...

Hi dear Hilda!Beautiful costumes!Fabulous pictures and I liked a lot the first one!They are adorable!
Thanks for sharing these shots and for all fabulous information!
I'm always learning something really cool and great here with you!
By the way...I loved your new picture in your profile!CUTE!!! ;-) and please don't say don't!
God bless you
Léia

James said...

Thanks Hilda, that was nice and I enjoyed very much.

Olivier said...

les costumes sont magnifiques, avec une préférence pour la deuxième photo.
costumes are splendid, with a priority for the second photograph.

Vogon Poet said...

I love these costumes and obviously these students are enjoying their acting. Excellent post, great photos and wonderful captions.

George said...

Thanks for the history lesson and the great photos. I think it was very appropriate to recreate early Manila during this event. The costumes certainly looked appropriate for the period.

Abe Lincoln said...

I also like the post and all the interesting pictures. I guess this must have been a kind of history lesson for everyone who would probably not know all of the periods and costumes. I think you did a remarkable job.

Jarart said...

Fantastic Photos and information, Hilda. I enjoyed this history very much!

Kim said...

Oooo this is so fun. One can infer so much through the historical costumes and your commentary. I have only known contemporaries from Manila and am only vaguely aware of any of the history. Your photos brought so much to life. And way more fun than Ken Burns documentary! :-)
-Kim

PS, your new avatar is cute!

Ursel said...

Great pictures and great stories going along with them. You wrote they acted "as if they were residents of mid-19th century", so what did they say when you took a picture with such a modern camera?
The idea to hire actors and re-create such atmosphere is also wonderful!

Coşkun said...

Hi Hilda,
Your fellow look nice with their native costumes. Thanks for sharing.

Buenos Aires Photoblog said...

Wonderful portraits and great post! You seem really interested in this topic. How did you get all the knowledge?

Pam said...

Hilda, your new ID photo is so beautiful... I just love you wonderful smile! It always makes me happy :D
This is a marvelous post and as always you are a fantastic teacher and communicator...
Thanks and have a delightful day.

JM said...

Hilda, this is such a great post! Very nice images and great information about the different people in your country.
By the way, nice new photo! :-)

BeachILike said...

Beautiful photo and great story, and I just notice you got new profile photo. I like this one more than last one :)

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Don and Krise said...

Hilda, thank you again for another great post. Love the photos of the people in various dress. You really work hard to put up a quality post with lots of interesting info. We should all be so good at it.

Hyde DP said...

Hi Hilda - what fascinating history - I've expanded my "allotments" post answering your question in the comments - you prompted me to dig deeper thanks.

Priyanka Khot said...

loved the theme of the event. What a great photo-op. I liked the costumes. Isn't jewelery too high on the list of Manila women. I hardly saw them wearing any.

India of that time would see women and men alike supporting loads of jewelery.

And Hilda I was not kidding about the monkeys. They flock our administrative block and not always just in the political robes. :-)

melanie said...

Une manifestation très sympathique ! Les jeunes gens sont beaux ! Il est toujours important de faire revivre le passé pour comprendre le présent.

Juan Manuel said...

Magnific post. Bautiful Photos. Excellent documentation. It´s the story of Spain in Filipinas. You can see the Spain´s Flag in the uniforms of the Guardia Civil on the shoulders.
My Grandfather Juan did the military service in Philippines.

Babzy said...

Very interesting portraits !

Reena said...

happy 150th! i heard rumors that a lot of your activities were put on hold because of the flu. But looks like it's not.

Anyway, i enjoy this post very much. i'm like studying Philippine history all over again. If our history classes had this kind of images and explanations, i would really have enjoyed that subject. lol.

thanks hilda! and looks like many outsiders are really appreciating our culture and history because of you. kudos!

Christopher Raun Leth said...

Great post. And so very interesting seeing these periode costumes.

Dina said...

Charming and lovely living history!

Hilda said...

Jacob:
The very first inhabitants (50,000 years ago) were probably animist. But by the end of the 1st century AD, there was evidence of Hindu and Buddhist influences. Islamic missionaries arrived just a few centuries before the Spaniards, and Ferdinand Magellan's first few encounters in the islands were with Muslims.

Ursel:
Actually, they had instructions to ignore all photographers and people who want to pose with them for photos. But the poor kids couldn't do much against insistent adults! ;)

BAP:
All Filipino students are required to read Jose Rizal's two novels, both of which describe the culture of mid- to late-19th century Manila very well.

Priyanka:
You're right! I didn't notice that at all. Yes, jewelry was worn, but not as much as Indian women did – and do! ;)

Juan Manuel:
That's such a wonderful coincidence and absolutely fascinating! Did he keep journals or photos of his time here? I hope it wasn't during the Spanish-American War or the Philippine Revolution.

Reena:
It was the grade school and high school students and faculty who were kept away because some cases were discovered among their students a week or two before the kick-off. It was mostly alumni and employees who attended. I guess we all decided to risk the flu because we probably won't be around when the next big anniversary comes around – fifty years from now!

the donG said...

nice nice... i just wish we always get to see them there in intramuros to keep the culture alive.

Lisa Wilson said...

The costumes are great!! The ladies' tops are beautiful.

Layrayski said...

Like one commenter said I would'v enjoyed history better with your commentary and these period reenactment around. Bravo Hilda! What a wonderful post. =)

ellievellie said...

Thank you for sharing this event with us. My favorite was the embroidery on that two girls sleeves - so light - so detailed!

this too will pass said...

a great event; well captured

miola said...

Very interesting!