The Americans who colonized the country in 1898 saw the opportunity to feature much of their newly colonized territories in the orient via postcards, photos and travel brochures.
Fort Santiago with newly installed electric post
Fort Santiago is an important military outpost and frequently featured in postcards, stamp during the late Spanish occupation and American regime.
Plaza Goiti – Is located at the back of Santa Cruz church. This is now called as Plaza Lacson where a post modern statue of Mayor Arsenio Lacson can be found. There is also a tranvia station line where street trolley would ply the route. Plaza Goiti is located near two important streets Calle Escolta and Calle Carriedo. The plaza serves as a demarcation between two district Santa Cruz and Quiapo. One can also notice that in pre-war Manila, drivers use right hand side.
Pasig River with custom house circa 1908 postcard
Pasig River with cascos, small boats and El Hogar building circa 1910
Pasig River which is the main river which separates the northern district and southern district of Manila is often featured in postcards even up to the late 1980’s.
Binondo Canal -This is vital to the trade and commerce in the northern part of the district. According to relatives who lived in Binondo before the war, Estero dela Reina would be vital for transportation and those who buy goods coming from the provinces. The Binondo landmark and estero is still there, but only few ancestral houses survive. The estero is now dirty and subject to periodic cleaning by the MMDA and city.
Binondo Draw Bridge Lift
Binondo Draw Bridge Lift– This is another landmark in Binondo during the American era which is located near Muelle de Binondo street and Dasmariñas street. During the late Spanish colonial rule and American regime; most of the goods, furniture, vegetables, fruits, fowls, grains ply the canals or estero within the city. Due to heavy river traffic, a drawbridge is needed. These were raise to allow boats, cascos ( native boats) to pass through. Most of these boats would ply major markets in the city like Quinta, Divisoria, Arroceros, Paco and Binondo.
Pasig river with native cascos ( native boats) circa 1910
Because of the large number of these boats which ply much of the city’s canal or esteros- Manila also earned the moniker “Venice of the East“.
The drawbridges survived the second world war, having in operations until the mid- 1960’s one in Binondo and Divisoria.
Union landing and custom house wharf
The first collectors were American soldiers, tourists, teachers and personnel who were assigned to the newly founded territory.
Manila During the American Regime
Manila and her landmarks were the favorite topics on postcard issues. While parts of the city is modern, There were several parts which were rural with lots of vacant lots, houses made from nipa huts, trees and light materials.
nipa hut with laundry
Early topics would also includes people washing clothes in Pasig river, trade, laundry, festivals and local customs.
Local and Foreign Outbound Rates
Postal rates were 2 centavos (US and Islands ) and 4 centavos ( Foreign countries not part of the United States ) for outbound mail. Since the Philippines was a US colony way back then, We can mail postcards to any parts of USA , Guam, Puerto Rico and Northern Marianas.
The early postcard senders have a peculiar way of affixing stamp. They would post the stamp in front view rather than the backside of the postcards.
Note: postcard were from the personal collector of the author and some of his friends, who would like to remain anonymous.
Sources and References:
Collins English Dictionary : Postal Card
Littrell, Robert, Ed; Postal Cards of Spanish Colonial Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, UPSS, 2010.
Personal interview from postcard collectors
Philippine Postcards page 130 to 137 Consuming Passions