Manila earn several accolades such as “Pearl of the Orient”, “Paris of the East”, “Milan of the East”, ” Little Vatican”, “Venice of the East ” among others. These were the term used by travelers, expats and colonial masters during the last decade of the Spanish and until American colonial regime.
old Spanish watch tower, Intramuros postcard
Postcards in the country were distributed during the mid-19th during the Spanish colonial regime and were known as tarjeta posta by old time collectors. Early postcards, bear features of Spanish monarchs and it was only in the late 1890’s when photo type postcards were printed and distributed by stores within Escolta, Binondo, Intramuros and large cities.
old Spanish wall printed by Photo Finishing Corporation, Manila
The Spanish government produced series in various printed denominations specifically for the country. Unfortunately thru time, revolutions, tropical weather, poor quality of the paper, printing quality available during that time. A lot of the postcards printed during this era barely survived. Early collectors would just put them on book shelves or any place. Most of the Spanish era postcards are hard to come by, even in specialized local bourse or club’s auction.
I have seen a handful of these trajeta postal mostly from specialized postcard collectors and bought 2 pieces Spanish -Cuban tarjeta postal printed around 1883 which bear the portrait of King Alphonso XII /Alfonso XII (pre-stamp). Some of the tarjeta postal printed in other Spanish colonies would also circulate in the country, since there are some Filipinos who lived and worked in those countries. The country is under the Spanish crown, postcards printed in those countries may also been used in the country and coveted by some collectors.
Insular Ice Plant postcard
Insular ice plant is one of the major building infrastructure built by the Americans in Manila.
Manila Central Post Office in 1930
Manila Central Post Office used to be a horse stable and post office which serves the southern part of Manila during the last decade of the Spanish regime. The building depicted at the postcard was built from 1926 to 1930 under the supervision of Pedro Siochi and Company. The triumvirate of Ralph Harrington Doane, Tomas Mapua and Juan Arellano were the architects behind this magnificent building.
Malacañan /Malacañang Palace is another favorite subject in postcard and even had a commemorative stamps issued during the commonwealth time. Several bookstores like Goodwill bookstore, National bookstore featured the palace during post war period.
The Americans started printing new postcards and were quickly bought by American military personnel or service personnel that were stationed in the country.
Since travel to the country became easier with faster steam engine vessels and larger commercial steam boats which ply the islands. More and more postcards
with different interesting topics were printed.
The most popular were Manila
carnival queens, ethnic groups, landmarks, public executions, people in filipiñ
iana costume among others.
Calle Bagumbayan postcard
Some of the postcards were printed in the Unites States during the early part of the colonial regime, while some are printed in the country.
Bureau of Science building
Bureau of Science
is the precursor of Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) during the American colonial regime. The building was designed in 1901 by the first American resident architect Edgar Bourne.
Bureau of Science building printed by Photo Supply Company
The colonial government needed a laboratory to study and store the colony’s rich store of minerals, forest and agricultural products as well as manufactured goods like tobacco and rope. The California Mission-style Neoclassic building graced the PGH Complex off ,Taft Avenue until the war when it was destroyed.
University of Santo Tomas
– This pre-war postcard was probably printed around 1930. This is the newly built building at the Sampaloc campus.
Most businesses and the general public during the commonwealth regime would prefer using postal card. It is a type of postal stationary with pre-paid stamp affixed on the card. These were classified under postal stationary of Philippine Islands under US Administration. Printed by the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving for use in the Philippine islands.
One can write short messages on the postal card and can be send very quick.
postal card issued during the commonwealth era with 2 centavos face value
Postal cards had a very interesting story. A lot of the postal card were hidden during the Japanese occupation and were brought out when the American or Allied forces began liberating major cities , hence there are popular cancellation and slogan marks.
Sometimes these bear overprint cancellation marks of “V Day” ( Victory Day) postal card of 1945, marking the return to power of the commonwealth from the Japanese which occupied the country.
These became popular souvenir items by Allied forces and American troops which were stationed in the country between 1944 to 1946. Approximately 250,000 American service and Allied forces were stationed in the country during this time period.
These type of postal card is commonly used by business, personal and quite popular even until the late 1960’s.
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