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A Pictorial History of 'the Greatest Annual Event in the Orient'

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    THAT LADY FROM LANAO. Manuki Makarimbang, Miss Lanao 1927, made a splash at the national beauty contest with her colorful wardrobe of malongs and headgears that were a hit with the crowd. 

    The first beauties to represent the Mindanao minority groups at the  very first Miss Philippines pageant of the 1926 Manila Carnival came from the provinces of Lanao and Sulu--Bala Amai Miring (Miss Lanao) and Scott Rasul (Miss Sulu). With Miss Zamboanga and Miss Davao, there were only 4 contestants from the predominantly Muslim region. It was clear that their chances of winning a regional title was rather high; back then, to win the regional titles of Miss Luzon, Miss Visayas and Miss Mindanao, one had to be a provincial delegate from that particular island group.

    Emerging as the first ethnic queen of the Mindanao region was the moon-faced beauty, Bala Amai Miring of Lanao. Quick to smile and regalling the crowds with her exotic malong costumes, Bala Amai Miring edged provincemate Rasul for the title of the first Miss Mindanao 1926. In winning the title, Miring joined the court of Miss Philippines-elect Anita Noble in her year-long Carnival activities.

    Next year, it was Miss Sulu's turn to hog the limelight, with the Manila-educated Nora Maulana copping the Miss Mindanao 1927 title. Miss Lanao 1927, Manuki Makarimbang,  had to take a back seat, but nevertheless, she stamped her presence with her regal bearing, her demure deportment and her fabulous Muslim wardrobe. Not much is known about Miss Makarimbang, although their clan is well-known all over Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.

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    LIWANAG NG LIWAYWAY. Liwayway's bet to the first Miss Philippines quest of 1926, was an all-Filipina beauty with an all Filipina name so appropriate to the Tagalog magazine: Pilar Liwanag.

    The oldest Tagalog weekly magazine in the country, Liwayway (Dawn) was begun way back in 1922 by Don Ramon Roces. The popular magazine featured short stories, serialized Tagalog novels, human interest and entertainment news, plus comics.

    Famous Filipino literary figures wrote for the magazine, a roster that includes Jose Corazon de Jesus, Julian Cruz Balmaceda, Cecilio Apostol Borromeo, Lope K. Santos, Romualdo Ramos, Francisco Lacsamana and Pedrito Reyes, the son of Don Severino Reyes, who was the first editor of Liwayway

    As a leading magazine, Liwayway joined the biggest of the Carnival festivities--including fielding its own delegate to the search for the Manila Carnival Queen. In 1930, their lovely bet had a name as Filipino as the magazine's name--Pilar Liwanag, who may perhaps be the first Miss Liwayway. Nothing came out of her participation though, as the competition was very tough that year, resulting in the crowning of two queens--Anita Noble of Batangas (Miss Philippines) and Carmen Fargas of Zamboanga(Miss Pearl of the Orient).

    After the Carnival years, the still-popular magazine which by now had expanded to include sister publications Bannawag, Hiligaynon and Bisaya--mounted its search for its own Bb. Liwayway beginning in 1938, determined by ballot voting. The Bb. Liwayway contest had a national appeal, remaining popular from the late 30s to the 50s.

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    ALLURE OF ALITAPTAP. Virginia Lejarde, the official candidate of Alitaptap Magazine to the 4th National Beauty Contest search for Miss Philippines 1930. 

    With the great success of the 1929 Manila Carnival queen search that saw the participation of the country's leading schools and institutions, the 1930 Manila Carnival was touted by publicists to be even more spectacular. Sure enough, in the search for th queenship of the Carnivsl, magazines and newspapers came back in full force to field their own candidates--this, in addition to the school bets.

    Publications like The Manila Times, Liwayway,  The Philippine Herald and Tribune sponsored their own beauty bets together with schools that included Philippine Collegian, U.P. and the Centro Escolar de Senoritas. Even smaller dailies like Atalaya and Alitaptap were ably represented by lovely Filipina belles.

    Alitaptap was a popular Tagalog magazine that was first published in 1928, and which had a successful run till the '30s, ceasing publication with its 29 December 1932 issue. Of its Carnival candidate, Virginia Lejarde, not much is known. The 1930 Miss Philippines crown went to an Ilongga teenager, Consuelo Acuna.

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    MAS BELLA! MASBATE! Elia Sanchez, the first and only known Miss Masbate to represent her island province of Masbate, at the 1926 Manila Carnival search for Miss Philippines.

    The island of Masbate was just 4 years old when the local government joined the Manila Carnival as a form of support to the national festivities as well as to breastbeat the progress it has attained as an autonomous Philippine province.

    Previously, Masbate was a part of Albay; it was declared a separate province  in 1864 with Guiom as its capital. Pres.Emilio Aguinaldo however, moved the capital to Masbate town, just before the declaration of the Philippine independence in 1898. With the arrival of the Americans, Masbate was again annexed to Sorsogon in 1908. It was finally declared an independent province with the approval of a bill on 1 February 1922.

    In the revamped Manila Carnival 1926, Masbate was proudly represented by the dark-eyed mestiza beauty, Elia Sanchez, who blazed the trail by becoming the first and only known Masbateña to vie for the the Miss Philippines title.


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    QUEEN AMPARING I. The queen-elect of the 2nd Nueva Ecija Carnival of 1927, held at Cabanatuan. However, the one who got to go to Manila for the Miss Philippines contest was Julita Matias.

    Nueva Ecija, one of the rice and sugar-producing provinces of Central Luzon, was an early supporter of the Manila Carnival. Proud to showcase its achievements especially in the field of agriculture, the provincial government put up exhibition booths in the early years of the Carnival (1908-1909). Some Nueva Ecijanas also figured in the national search for the Manila Carnival Queen; Pacita Bantug deGuzman of San Isidro came close to winning the 1912 crown when she placed 2nd to Paz Marquez. The province was also represented in 1926 (candidate unknown) and in 1927 by Julita Matias.


    Gripped with Carnival fever, Nueva Ecija soon started holding its own petit carnivals beginning in 1926. In 1927, the 2nd Nueva Ecija Carnival was staged, capped with the coronation of Queen Amparing I, as the festival royalty.

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    ISABELA'S IDOL. The first Miss Isabela, Arminda Martinez in her official portarit as a candidadte to the 1926 Miss Philippines quest.

    The second largest province in the Philippines (after Palawan), Isabela was created in 1856  carved out from the rich, expansive region of Cagayan Valley. The province was named after Queen Isabela II of Spain.

     After the end of the Philippine Revolution which saw the capture of Pres. Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, the province was reorganized under the American regime through Act No. 210, passed August 24, 1901. The province was a noted corn and rice basket in the region and found a cause to drumbeat this reputation through its participation in the annual Manila Carnival.

    Out also to prove that Isabela was not just a land of plenty but also of beauty, the provincial government sent its first-ever beauty delegate to compete in the 1st National Beauty Contest of the 1926 Manila Carnival. The pert and pretty Arminda Martinez was appointed for the job, which she did with aplomb at the national event. The title, however, went to Miss Batangas, Anita Noble.

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    In one of the earliest petit fairs of Iloilo, the lovely Aida “Aiding” Kilayko reigned as the 1925 queen. Her parents were Eugenio Copa Kilayko and Celsa Lizares, both from landed families of Talisay, Negros Occidental, who owned large sugar haciendas and prosperous farm holdings. Aida was educated at the Assumption College in Iloilo, and excelled in piano. As a young member of the “buena sociedad Ilongga”, Aida was also known for being a cultured and refined young woman.


    After her coronation as Iloilo’s carnival queen, she was back in Manila to continue her Pharmacy course at the Centro Escolar de Señoritas. By December 1925, she was in the front page again as one of the winners of Philipine Free Press’ search for the 4 most representative types of “Bellezas Filipinas”. Over two thousand pictures were received as entries of the popular Manila paper; these were whittled down to 72, then 24 finalists. A judging panel comprising of artists Fabian de la Rosa, Guillermo Tolentino, Fernando Amorsolo and Jorge Pineda chose the winners, headed by Manila Carnival contestants Rosario Panganiban, Salud Austria, Margarita Lacson and Aida Kilayko, who placed third. She won a gold panuelo pin for her win.

    “Aiding” later married lawyer Julio Hernaez, whom she outlived. They had 4 children: Corazon, Maria Fe, Julian Jr. and Susan.

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    A video tribute to Carmeling Del Rosario-Rodriguez (b. 2 July 1916)  Miss Mindanao of the 1935 Manila Carnival who passed away this year on 17 April 2012, at age 96, in Makati. Used with permission (Thank you Aids Asis for the youtube video tribute).

    For  her remarkable Carnival story, please refer to: MISSING MISS MINDANAO



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    BOWERS BEAUTIFUL. The firtst and only known Miss Romblon, Isabel C. Bowers, who participated in the 2nd National Beauty Contest of the Manila Carnival, won by Luisa Marasigan. 

    Little is known about Romblon's first and only representative to the Miss Philippines BeautyContest of the Manila Carnival--American mestiza, Isabel C. Bowers.

    There were several Bowers who came to the Philippines at the time of the American conquest who may have been her relatives: .two Thomasites with the Bowers surname came with the first batch of American teachers to the Islands in the early 1900s--Benjamin F. Bowers (assigned in Antique) and GeorgeBowers (assigned in Batangas). They could very well be Isabel's forebears.

    Definitely, Isabel was related somehow to Brig.Gen. Clarence H. Bowers (1880-1943), the Philippine Constabulary head and a former superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy who married a Spanish-Filipina beauty, Constancia Madrilejos of Romblon on 31 August 1906.

    The Bowers couple had two children, Elizabeth Maud Constance and Lejuna Bowers. (N.B. It is interesting to note that "Isabel" is the Spanish equivalent of Elizabeth; could she be one and the same person? Mother Constancia anglicized her name to "Constance Bowers" after her marriage to Clarence. In any event, this Elizabeth Maud Bowers returned to the U.S. in 1932 and took up Industrial Design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pennsylvania. She married Engr. John Rice, had two daughters and eventually became a noted name in industrial and graphic design, one of only few American women to achieve such feat in a field dominated by men.)


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    Her Majesty, Marianita Caraza and her court of honor at the throne of the 1933 Iloilo Carnival. From left to right: Consort Emilio Escares, princess Susing Rocha, the Queen, King Consort, BoyOpisso (son of Judge Opisso), Princess Lourdes Rivera and consort Vicente Borromeo.

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    Beauties and consorts of the 1935 Albay Carnival and Industrial Fair, led by Queen-elect Teresa Barranecea (Queen Teresa I) and her King Consort Lt. Artemio Soriano.


    Princesses and escorts include Priscilla Acuna, Carmen Palomo, Eustaquio Jimenez and R. Mirasol.

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    THE SECOND MISS MINDANAO 1939. Nieves Erana, a popular Escolarina student, is credited in extant Carnival photos as the other Miss Mindanao, together with Adela Planas.


    Adela Planas was in the court of Iluminada Tuason, Miss Philippines of 1939, as Miss Mindanao; in fact, Adela was with the rest of the winners during Iluminada’s coronation night.

    But we have visual documentation of another MissMindanao, who may have shared royal responsibilities with Adela.

    She is no other than Nieves Paz Eraña, who, four years before had previously reigned as Queen of the Students’ Night during the festivities at Centro Escolarde Señoritas from Jan. 18-21, 1935.

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     SWISS MISS. Carmen Bastida, Miss Davao 1927, ties the knot with Swiss Hans P. Anderegg in ceremonies held at the Paules Church. Photo was taken in the home of Carmen's brother in Manila. From Graphic Magazine, April 1933.

    Carmen Bastida, the mestiza beauty who represented Davao in the 1927 Manila Carnival, is shown with her groom Hans P. Anderegg, after their nuptials at the Paules Church in Manila on 17 April 1933.  From left to right are: Anton Alsobrook (best man); Blanquita Danon (maid of honor); the bride, Carmen Bastida; the groom Hans Anderegg; Mrs. Manuel N. Tuason (sponsor); Isidro Bastida, the birde's brother who gave her in marriage; and Dr. Manuel N. Tuason. The children are, from L to R: Manuel Tuason Jr., Rosemarie Tuason and Chiquita Ortigas. Paul A. Meyer Sr., one of the sponsors, does not appear with the group. The couple, who are popular members of the cosmopolitan community of Manila, sailed for Switzerland, the groom's homeland, on a honeymoon tour that lasted 6 months.

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    SAMAR'S SWEETHEART. Rosie McGuire, the first and only known Miss samar to represent her island province at the 1927 edition of the Manila Carnival.

    The American Mcguires settled in Borongan, Eastern Samar and the lovely Rosie McGuire could very well be from this landed family. Don James McGuire was a prominent citizen of the place, and his magnificent McGuire Bldg., built in 1931, still stands restored in Borongan. A McGuire St. can be found in this town, (now a city, and capital of the province). Other than that, not much is known about this fair mestiza beauty, the only known Miss Samar to grace the carnival of Manila where Manila's Luisa Marasigan triumphed as Miss Philippines of 1927.

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    A 1908 souvenir photo of a young carnival visitor by the name of Mary Helen. The dedication at the back reads: "Mary Helen and I attended the Carnival last evening. Be well. Albert.". It is addressed to a certain Mris. Robeson of Seattle, Washington, postmartked 4 March 1908, from Manila. The oval picture of Mary Helen in sepia was taken separately then pasted on a window on the postcard, that features the famous light tower that lit the Carnival grounds. Photo studio booths made good business taking snaps of Carnival scenes and revelers, making for good souvenirs of the country's national fair.

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    Marcelina Cuenca was a former Miss Manila and The Philippine Free Press' representative to the  1934 search for Miss Philippines. She won Miss Visayas (3rd place) after Luisa Laconico (Miss Luzon) and Clarita Tan Kiang (1934 Miss Philippines). A year after the contest, she wed Dr. Conrado Mauricio on 16 June 1935. Shown along with the newlyweds in this picture are: L-R: Lourdes Mauricio (bridesmaid), Julita Cuaderno (maid of honor) and Dr. Leon Ma. Guerrero Jr. (Best Man).

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    PANALO SI MANALO.  Elvira Manalo, Miss Palawan of 1927, was just the 3rd Palawan beauty to represent her province at the Manila Carnival search for Miss Philippines.

    1924 was a very good year for the province of Palawan and its people, for it was in this year that a beautiful Palaweña from Cuyo, captured the prestigious Manila Carnival Queen crown. Trinidad Fernandez was also different from the winning beauties she succeeded, for she was no high society girl—she belonged to the working class, and her victory gave new meaning and purpose to the beauty title.

     It was evident that hers was a tough act to follow; Trinidad was succeeded by her sister, Carmen Fernandez in 1926, but failed to advance in the finals. In 1927, another worthy candidate was found to represent the island province. Her name: Elvira Manalo of Puerto Princesa.

     Like most Carnival beauties, Elvira came from a prominent political clan. Her father, Anastacio Manalo served as Governor of the province from 1922-1925. Anastacio was a prolific builder; he constructed the present wharf of the capital city and, under his tenure, northern and southern roads leading to Iwahig Penal Colony were laid out. The Capitol Building near the wharf was also attributed to his administration.

     Elvira, however, failed to take home the crown that her compatriot had won two years before; an Escolarina co-ed representing Manila—Luisa Marasigan—emerged victorious. Thus, TrinidadFernandez remains the only Palaweña winner in the 31-year history of the Carnival Queen contest.

     After the pageant, Elvira Manalo, became Mrs. Maslog.

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    SEE YOU IN COURT. The official coronation picture of Miss Mindanao 1934, Consuleo Villamor, with her own retinue of beauties in regal Muslim costumes. She is escorted by her brother, Domiciano.

    The tradition of having separate coronation nights for the princesses of Miss Philippines began in 1929, with the election of Pacita de los Reyes of U.P. Not only was the new Miss Philippines given her own Coronation Night, but there were also separate affairs for Miss Luzon, Miss Visayas and Miss Mindanao, which were no less fabulous.

    The picture above shows the crowning moment of Abra beauty, Consuelo Villamor (b.1911/ d. 2009), who was Miss Mindanao in the court of 1934 Miss Philippines, Clarita Tan Kiang. True to the title she won, her whole court came in signature Muslim costumes. One of her attendants was Evelina Kalaw, sister of Miss Philippines 1931, Maria Kalaw. Consuelo is shown here with her Prince Consort, Domiciano Villamor, her brother.

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    Alicia Cabarrus de Santos was the original Miss Luzon in the court of Maria Kalaw, 1931 Miss Philippines. She had also reigned as the Queen of Charity in her teenage years. At the Manila Carnival, the popular socialite was leading all the way when Kalaw overtook her with a deluge of votes, in the final minutes of the contest.

    Declaring foul play, de Santos resigned her post, which Lina Araullo assumed. She remained unperturbed after her not-so-pleasant Carnival experience; her family, in fact, continued to support the Carnival. In the next year’s festivities. Alicia’s doctor-brother, Arturo de Santos, provided escorting duties to Queen Emma Zamora. On 29 August 1934, Alicia married Dr. Octavio L. Maloles at lavish ceremonies held at the Santo Espiritu Church. They had a son, Octavio II.

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    PRETTY PACITA. Sampaguita -sponsored Pacita Rodriguez strikes a pose for her official 1930 Manila Carnival photo.

    1930 was a most competitive year for the Miss Philippines quest of the annual Manila Carnival. Major publications, Chinese newspapers and even university publications named their own candidates to the search for the country’s fairest.

    Towards the homestretch, 15 top contenders remained, headed by the eventual winner, Consuelo Acuña, supported by no less than 3 papers—Taliba, La Vanguardia and La Defensa. Not far behind were Estrella Alvarez (TheIndependent Intelligencer), Luz Villaluna (Excelsior) and Rosario Zorilla (The Philippine Herald) who finished in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively. 

    Rounding out the Top 15 were two candidates sponsored by two Chinese papers(Pua Ya Jueng and Liong Ngo Kim). Virginia Lejarde, Elisa Dalmacio, Violeta Lopez, Corazon Campos, Lourdes Aunario, Pilar Liwanag, Eladia Eugenio, Loreto Zapanta and the winsome Pacita Rodriguez who was the bet of the Manila daily, Sampaguita.

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