The talk is in line with Postcards from Our Past, an exhibit of postcards of old Manila, which will run until 29 February 2012 at the Ateneo de Manila University.
Hand colored picture postcards first made their appearance in the Philippines just before the turn of the last century, over one hundred years ago. They were part of a postcard fad that swept the world at that time, brought on by easily portable cameras, cheap postal rates and the beginnings of international tourism. Photographers took black and white pictures of the Philippine’s most famous landmarks, beautiful and exotic sights and transformed these images into color postcards by applying hand-made lithographic plates for the color.
This phenomenon coincided with the arrival of thousands of American military personnel and colonial administrators in the Philippines in 1898. The new arrivals were a ready market for Philippine postcards as they were eager to show the folks back home in America what the Philippines looked like. These were still the days before movies, television or even color photography.
This small exhibit of enlarged reproductions of old picture postcards of Manila from the Rafael Ortigas Jr. collection, is an attempt to show what life was like at the end of the Spanish era in the Philippines and the first years of the American period. Intramuros was still a center of activity with its Spanish walls and gates intact and its many churches and ancient convents still standing. Outside Intramuros business flourished in Binondo and on the Escolta. For their part the newly arrived Americans were busy laying out modern markets, boulevards, parks, hotels and neoclassical government buildings.
It was a time of great change for the Philippines. With the opening of the Manila Hotel in 1912 the tourist industry officially began and both foreigners and locals bought and sent postcards by the hundreds of thousands. From Mountain Province and Luzon, to the Visayas and Jolo the whole nation was suddenly on display.
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