25 Common Water and Aquatic Plants Grown in the Philippines

Philippines is an archipelago with hundreds of creeks, stream, lakes, river and water system. Water plants are plenty and the country is rich in biodiversity. However some of the commonly grown water plants are introduced to the country.

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Freshwater Aquarium set-up by: Mr. Achilles Antiquina Lussier

They are classified into Emergent, Submerged, Floating-leaved, Free-floating. Our team made a short list of 25 common water plants grown or found in semi-naturalized state.

We eliminated Ipomea aquatica or Kangkong / Kangkung, since it is used as food. Better  post in another topic.

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water plants grown in cement pond

25 Common Water Plants

25.) Ludwigia sedoides – commonly called Mosaic plant, False Loosestrife. This water plant originates from Brazil, Venezuela. This had become naturalized in many tropical, sub-tropical and even temperate countries.This blooms during June to August which coincide with the rainy season, But this may also bloom during the dry season. Some sell this from Php 50.00 small plant to as much as Php 200 in some online sites.

24.) Myriophyllum aquaticum commonly called parrot’s-feather and parrot feather watermilfoil. Parrot feather gets its name from its feather-like leaves that are arranged around the stem in whorls of four to six. This water plant originally is native of South America and quickly spread via the tropical aquarium trade in North America and elsewhere.

In some countries, Like the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Southern United States.  parrot’s-feather can quickly clogged waterways and ponds. The growth can block sunlight and cause native plants to die because of light deficiency. The organisms that feed on the native plants can die off due to starvation.

This is also commonly sold in Cartimar and in many aquarium pet stores all over the country.

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photo courtesy of pixabay : johnnykarlsson1-5486868

23.) Limnobium laevigatum is a floating plant commonly called West Indian spongeplant, South American spongeplant and Amazon or smooth frogbit. This floating plant is native to Central and South America and quickly spread all over the tropical and sub-tropical areas due to aquarium plant trade.

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Cypreus alterniflolius

photo courtesy of : pixabay: jaclou-dl-5602247

22.) Cyperus alternifolius, common names are umbrella papyrus, umbrella sedge or umbrella palm,Indian matting plant. This was native to Madagascar in Africa but quickly spread in many parts of the world.

This is commonly seen in rice paddies, pond, creeks,irrigation canals throughout the country. The umbrella palm is sought after for its impressive height that can grow to six feet. It creates a soft backdrop for shorter aquatic plants, but it can grow notoriously fast and spread if not put in a container.

21.) Eleocharis acicularis is a species of spikeedge known by the common names needle spikerush and least spikerush. This is common in most aquarium stores in Cartimar and pet stores.

20.) Echinodorus grandiflorus Commonly called spade-leaf sword, creeping burhead, Amazon spade leaf. There were at least 40 known species of this genus and quite common in aquarium trade all over the world.

It is native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina,Venezuela and Florida in the United States of America.

This plant species is quite common is rice paddies, water irrigation ditches, ponds, lagoon and garden center. Immersed plants readily produce flowers and seeds but it can be grown submersed as well.

Small plants are being sold between Php 25.00 to Php 400 depending on the size. Variegated plants are also sold for a little bit higher compared to the ordinary green leaf types.

19.) Lemma minor commonly called duckweed, or lesser duckweed. Lemna minor is the common duckweed works well as a water purifier. It can help control the algae.

Some of the economic importance of Lemma minor is used as animal fodder, bioremediator, for wastewater nutrient recovery, and other applications.  This is common in rice paddy fields, ponds, aquarium trade and lakes. It is also given as a feed to ducks, chicken and goose.

It is found in many areas of the world and have naturalized in Australia and South America. In aquarium trade, it is sold between Php 5.00 for a small cup to as much as Php 50.00

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photo courtesy of pixabay: laila_-6779063

18.) Ceratophyllum submersum and Ceratophyllum demersum commonly known as the soft hornwort ,tropical hornwort, coontail or coon’s tail . This seems to have naturalized in almost all water system in the country.

Its fluffy, filamentous, bright-green leaves provide excellent cover for newly hatched fish. It is propagated by cuttings.

Sometimes they are so common that backyard hobbyist would give them away as freebies. They are sold between Php 10.00 to Php 50.00 depending on size in online sites.

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photo courtesy of pixabay : loilamtan-4659988/

17.) Hydrocotyle vulgaris commonly called pennywort, whorled marsh pennywort, shield pennywort, pennyworth, money plant, lucky plant, copper coin, mangkok, Yahong-yahong is a flowering plant found in Europe, North Africa, North and Western Asia. This may have been introduced during the late Spanish colonial rule or early American regime in the country.

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Hydrocotyle vulgaris blooming in a garden plot within Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Sometimes people would mistake this as gotu kola (Centella asiatica), since the leaves are almost the same.  They are sold between Php 20.00 to Php 50.00 in online sites depending on how big the plant.

16.) Azolla pinnata is a species of aquatic fern known by several common names, including mosquito fern, feathered mosquito fern and water velvet. This is common in rice fields and waterways.

15.) Cabomba carolina – This is originally found as an aquatic perennial herbaceous plant native to North and South America. However human migration and introduction spread this water plant in many parts of the world. To some extent, invasive species in Australia, Europe and many parts of tropical, sub-tropical area, temperate areas.

14.) Bacopa monnieri is creeping herb native to the wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Common names are water hyssop,waterhyssop, brahmi, thyme-leafed gratiola, herb of grace,and Indian pennywort.

13.) Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia is a native to the Philippines and commonly sold in tropical aquarium trade. Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia is considered easy to cultivate and will grow in moderately hard water if necessary, though it grows naturally in slightly soft water. It prefers moderate to low levels of light.

This water plant is found in Negros, Panay islands in the Visayas and Southwestern part of Luzon. This is also found in the Bicol region. Some of the problems encountered by local aquarium hobbyists is the over harvesting, water pollution of this species.

12.) Rotala rotundifolia is found in many South-East Asian countries has long, thin leaves and 15-30 long stems, 2-3 cm wide including the leaves. Unlike other Rotala species it is relatively undemanding, although it needs good light to produce red leaves.

11.) Salvinia it is a species of floating fern and is related to the other water ferns, including the mosquito fern Azolla. There were about 12 species are recognized with at least 3 are known to be hybrids. This is commonly seen in ponds, rice fields, water ways, pond, irrigation canals and popular in aquarium trade.

10.) Vallisneria genus was named after an Italian (Antonio Vallisner who lived from  May 3, 1661 – Padua to January 18, 1730) He was an Italian medical scientist, physician and naturalist.

2.) Pistia stratiotes commonly called kiapo, kiyapo, quiapo, kuyapo, cuyapo, apon, loloan, water lettuce, water cabbage, tropical duckweed, Nile cabbage or shellflower- Water lettuce is among the world’s most productive freshwater aquatic plants and considered an invasive species in other countries.

In some countries like India ( famine food), Southern parts of China and Africa. Young leaves are usually boiled to remove the acridity from calcium oxalate crystals.

The district of Quiapo in downtown Manila and the town of Cuyapo in Nueva Ecija was name after this plant. There were abundant kiyapo growing the creeks and river tributaries. Some local garden center sells Pistia stratiotes between Php 10.00 to Php 75.00 depending on the size.

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Eichhornia crassipes or Water hyacinth

1.) Eichhornia crassipes, known as water hyacinth or incorrectly called water lily is an aquatic plant native to the Central and South American countries.

Water hyacinth was introduced to the country by the Spaniards in the late 16th century in the country, It is now found in many parts of the world. Sometimes people would incorrectly called this as water lily and a festival is celebrated yearly in Las Piñas City.

Sipag Villar Foundation provides livelihood opportunity to women by helping them make products from water hyacinth. There are many uses of the stems such as wreath, baskets, mats, woven bags, tissue holder and slippers. Their livelihood advocacy had spread in many areas of the country.

However in many parts of the globe, this plant is considered as invasive species.

Bibliography, Sources and References:

Personal Interviews : Mr. Jose Juan Paraiso, Mr. Achilles Antiquina Lussier, Mr. Aira Certeza, Mr. Edwin Aytona, Architect Andrew Patrick Gozon, Ms. Marge Hermoso, Mr. Joselito Flores and Ms. Lily Chin

Yeow Chin Wee,Marshal Cavendish Times Editions; Revised Edition edition (2005),Ferns of the Tropics: ISBN-10: 9812611797, ISBN-13:978-9812611796

The anti-aging effects of Ludwigia octovalvis on Drosophila melanogaster and SAMP8 mice / Wei-Sheng Lin, Jun-Yi Chen, Jo-Chiao Wang, Liang-Yu Chen et al / Age (Dordr), Apr 2014; 36(2): 689-703 / doi:  10.1007/s11357-013-9606-z

Slocum, Perry D., Timber Press, Incorporated; 1st ed. edition (February 1, 2005)Waterlilies and Lotuses: Species, Cultivars, and New Hybrids : ISBN-10:0881926841, ISBN-13:978-0881926842

Randall, Karen A., Sunken Gardens:Timber Press (February 14, 2017) A Step-by Step Guide to Planting Freshwater Aquariums, ISBN-10: 1604695927, ISBN-13: 978-1604695922

Pistia stratiotes” USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Non-indigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI.

“Lemna System for Wastewater Treatment”. National Environmental Technology Applications Corporation. 412: 826–5511.

Lazkov, G.A. & Sultanova, B.A. (2011). Checklist of vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan. Norrlinia 24: 1-166.

Lansdown, R.V. 2014. Hydrocotyle vulgaris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T164201A42415437.

Lambert Derek, Quick Graham, Swindells Philip. CompanionHouse Books; First Trade Paper edition (September 1, 2006): ISBN-10 :1931993815, ISBN-13:978-1931993814

Jain, S. K. (1990).Azolla pinnata R.Br. and Lemna minor L. for removal of lead and zinc from polluted water. Water Research 24:2 177-83.

Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.

Hiscock, Peter: Interpet Ltd (April 30, 2005). Mini Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants, ISBN-10 :1842861042, ISBN-13:978-1842861042

Hassler, Michael & Schmitt, Bernd (January 2020). “Leptochilus pteropus“. Checklist of Ferns and Lycophytes of the World. Version 8.20. Retrieved 2020-02-11.

Hasan, M.R. (2009). “Use of algae and aquatic macrophytes as feed in small-scale aquaculture – a review”. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper.

Gleason, H.A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Garai, S; Mahato, SB; Ohtani, K; Yamasaki, K (2009). “Dammarane triterpenoid saponins from Bacopa monnieri“. Can J Chem. 87 (9): 1230–1234.

Dkhar J, Kumaria S, Rama Rao S, Tandon P (2012) Sequence characteristics and phylogenetic implications of the nrDNA internal transcribed spacers (ITS) in the genus Nymphaea with focus on some Indian representatives. Plant Systematics and Evolution 298: 93–108.

Davidse, G., M. Sousa Sánchez & A.O. Chater. 1994. Alismataceae a Cyperaceae. 6: i–xvi, 1–543. In G. Davidse, M. Sousa Sánchez & A.O. Chater (eds.) Fl. Mesoamer.. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D. F.

Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija website

Coetzee, J., M. Hill, M. Julien, T. Center, and H. Cordo. 2009. Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms–Laub. (Pontederiaceae). Pages 183–210 in R. Muniappan, G. V. P. Reddy, and A. Raman, eds., Biological Control of Tropical Weeds using Arthropods. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Christenhusz, Fay, and Chase (2017). Plants of the World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Vascular Plants. University of Chicago Press. p. 188.

C. Kasselmann. 2011. Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vellozo) Verdcourt var. santacatarinense Kasselman, var. nov. (Haloragaceae). Aqua Planta 36 (4): 128-133.

Brunner, Gerhard. 1973. Aquarium Plants. T.F.H. Publ., N.J.

Bogner, J., 1990. Filipino Cryptocoryne. Aquarist & Pondkeeper January 1990 : 38.

Aquascape Lifestyles Book, The Pond Guy Publications; 1st edition (January 12, 2007)The Hobbyyist’s Guide to Pond Plants : ISBN-10:097865062X : ISBN-13: 978-0978650629

Anderson, Lars, and Pat Akers. “Spongeplant: A New Aquatic Weed Threat in the Delta.” Cal-IPC News 19.1 (2011): 4-5. Print.

Collection of Religious Chalkware in the Philippines

Chalkware is a molded figurine or statues from plaster of paris or gypsum. These chalkware items were cheap, popular and mass produce in the country. There are still some local makers of chalkware in the country but confined to small items like figurines, souvenir items for baptism, wedding and zodiac sign statues sold in Divisoria or Chinatown during Chinese New Year celebration.

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year of the rat zodiac sign made from plaster of paris

Chalkware, Eskayola, Plaster of Paris, Carnival Chalkware

Chalkware started the rise in popularity in the later half of 19th century, in  Staffordshire, England, France, Spain, Italy and the United States.

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Photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

Chalkware is also called “Plaster of Paris” since large quantities of the material is found in Montmartre near Paris, France. Some would also refer the items made from these items as “Carnival Chalkware Figurines”. Small figurine items would be given as prizes in carnival and games during that era.

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Photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

It was late 19th century when local artists and craftsmen would use the medium and eventually became more common in the early part of the 20th century.  It is much cheaper compared to wood and can be mass produce in just within few days or weeks.

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photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan

Locally referred to as”Eskayola“/ “Escayola”, The material has a centuries-long history in artist’s sculpture studios as well as interior architectural decoration, folk and religious art.

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Santo Niño de Prague made from eskayola ( photo courtesy of Professor Dennis Maturan)

Among the more famous artisan includes Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Mr. Isabelo Tampingco, Mr. Guillermo Tolentino and Mr. Maximo Vicente who would the medium in a lot of their works. Most of their artistic works are exhibited in the National Arts Gallery and other prominent galleries in the world.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5we2yTnMkdChrJLc6

Sacred Heart of Jesus made from eskayola / chalkware probably in the 1970’s

The downside of eskayola/ escayola is that it is soft, breakable and heavy. According to a local artisan, who specializes on wedding figurines and small religious chalkware statues. During the height of their production in the late 1960’s to late 1990’s. They can make hundreds of figurine in just a couple of days ( small figurines 1 to 3 inches height).

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Blessed Virgin Mary made from eskayola / chalkware probably in the late 1970’s ( courtesy of Mr. Carlo Yap)

For small and medium sized religious figurines, It can take between 4 to 7 days. powdered gypsum is mixed with water, the gooey substance can be molded, shaped, or spread on surfaces. Molds are then removed and the surfaces are sanded or worked in various ways and with a range of tools, to smooth, refine, ornament and painting.

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Buddha figurines- the one at the left side was made from chalk ware

Among the popular countries to source these religious chalkware  were from Spain, Italy, France, United States, United Kingdom and Portugal. Some of the items were sold in pre-war Estrella del Norte in Escolta street. The items were an important conversational pieces in pre-war Manila. The collector would focus on the items which had brand name or those with signatures of famous makers or artisan.

Chalkware fragility, and art form is part of the overall appeal. In this regard, they seemed almost human, evoking the characteristic like frailties, hardship and mortality.

Local artisan would also craft wall decor, statues, coin banks,Buddha figurines and nativity scenes from plaster of paris materials.

My aunt told me that almost everyone would have these types of figurines during its heydays.

Catholic Trade in Tayuman, Santa Cruz would specializes in these types of religious chalkware until in mid-1980’s, while some local religious stall and peddlers would still have these types of chalkware until the early part of 2000.

Engineer Celso Buccat was among the first who started making fiber resin statues in the early 1980’s and the technology quickly spread among local artisan and prices of statues drop significantly. 

I can still remember that my mom was able to purchase a holy family statue in Evangelista street, Quiapo early part of 1994 for just few hundred of pesos.

Superstitious Beliefs

Several superstitious belief arose in handling of religious chalkware. One such belief is that whenever one breaks the statue, one must bury or burn the broken statues within the property. One must not throw the religious images on the garbage bin. Another belief is that one must offer the broken image at the nearest chapel or church.

Now, A big portion of religious statues are made from fiber resin, plastic or imported from China or Taiwan.

It is a dying craft and only small items such as those sold for souvenir items are being made. Those who have these type of chalkware must try to cherish them.

Bibliographies and References:

Tara Hamling’s Decorating the “Godly” Household: Religious Art in Post-Reformation Britain (Yale University Press, 2010) explores the uses of large-scale religious figural and ornamental plaster moldings, mantels, wall panels, ceilings, and other interior architectural decoration in Protestant domestic spaces from 1560 to 1660.

Personal communications: Mr. Carlo Yap, Professor Dennis Maturan, Edgardo Gamo Jr., Diana Religious Supply Store, Maro Adriano, Salvacion de Vera and Mr. Peter Andres.

Exploring Quiapo During the Traslacion 2020

Quiapo is a historical district in Manila. our small group decided to explore some of the street while the statue of the black nazarene is still roving within the streets of the district during the annual traslacion.

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Quezon Avenue

 Traslacion 2020

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theme of traslacion 2020

Quiapo is the hispanized name for the word kiyapo/ kiapo/ apon which grew in abundance within the waterways, creeks of Quiapo.

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colored candles for sale

Along with some friends and some foreigner friends, We took a chance to explore the district.

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rosaries and amulets

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leis of sampaguita with camia flowers

We took the side streets and roam around the district and bought some items.

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throngs of devotees and tourists brave the hot afternoon sun and overcast skies

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different colors black nazarene handkerchiefs

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rows of ancestral houses turned into commercial spaces

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vendor of yema and pastillas

We bought some pastillas and yema on our way to Raon street aka Gonzalo Puyat street.

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black nazarene in front of an electronic store along Roan street / Gonazalo Puyat street

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Globe Lumpia with dozens of customer waiting in line to buy their fresh lumpia

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food stall – There were over a dozen food stalls selling a variety of street foods, kikiam, shawarma, fish balls, samalamig and meal viand.

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food stall within the ground of Isetan Recto Mall

The group walked towards T. Evangelista street which intersect Claro M. Recto street and LRT line 2 station towards LRT line 1 Doroteo Jose station.

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Traslacion 2020 crowd is fewer compared to the past few editions. We took the LRT line 1 going home since there were few jeepneys within the district.

American Regime Manila Thru Postcards (part 2)

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.

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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.

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Plaza Goiti

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.

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Pasig River with custom house circa 1908 postcard

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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nipa hut with laundry

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embroidery

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

Traslacion 2017 : Feast of the Black Nazarene

Traslacion 2017 had begun and millions of devotees of the Black Nazarene troop to Quirino grandstand , Manila Cityhall , Santa Cruz , Quiapo and nearby areas .

route of the procession

According to organizers, this year’s feast was centered specifically on the passage from Collosians 3:14, which reads “Pag-ibig ang buklod ng ganap na pagkakaisa.”

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

The Black Nazarene which left the grandstand at past 5:30am is slowly paraded around the streets of Manila.

Black Nazarene devotees

I was accompanied by my friend Darwin Arnuco and a Black Nazarene devotee since 2009 . He would normally visit Quiapo church and attend the mass before opening his store .

Black Nazarene statues

Aside from the devotion , ambulant vendors , merchants and street vendors are making a brisk business . Selling popular t-shirts , towels , statues , pins , key chains , mugs , calendars among other items.

Quezon Avenue around past 9:00am 

I manage to walk past Liwasang Bonifacio , Mehan Garden , Manila Cityhall and National Museum and back to Quiapo before going home.