A gallery of carnival queens
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - February 13, 2006 - 12:00am
Maybe, beauty-watchers are clueless that the Pinoy obsession with beauty queens dates back to nearly a century ago during the glorious carnival era. For instance, did you know that the first carnival queen, Pura Garcia Villanueva, was chosen in 1908 during the Manila Carnival held at the Wallace Field (then Luneta and now Rizal Park)? Villanueva was crowned on Ash Wednesday to cap the two-week event.

Funfare’s "beauty experts" Felix Manuel, Joey Cezeare, Gery Yumping and Francis Calubaquib know this – and much, much more!

"The Manila Carnival was put up to highlight the country’s industrial, agricultural and commercial progress under the American Regime," reported Felix. "People flocked to the event in varied costumes, depending on the year’s theme. There were fluvial parades graced by the carnival-queen candidates. Lavish on-land parades were held during the two-week fiesta, with various floats representing the country’s different regions and showcasing the country’s top produce."

Those were the days, my friends!

"Only women from prominent families were chosen as queens. The selection varied each year, sometimes by ballots or by a board of jurors from high society. The candidates were highly-educated and well-bred."

Here’s the rest of the "beauty experts’" nostalgic report:

It was only during the first carnival and the 1920 carnival when two winners were chosen, a Filipina as Queen of the Orient and an American as Queen of the Occident. During the 1908 Carnival, Pura Garcia Villanueva of Iloilo was named Queen of the Orient and Manuel Gomez, auditor of La Germinal, was proclaimed King of the Orient. The queen’s maids of honor included Fe Escurdia, Luz Hugo, Rosa Ponce de Leon, Esperanza Poblete, Cirila Legarda and Ramona Ponce de Leon. The king’s courtiers were Feliciano Basa Jr., Emilio Veloso, Juan Zalvidea, Clodualdo Tempongco and Emilio Mapua.

Americans living in Manila comprised the Occident court with Marjorie Colton as Queen of the Occident and Col. George T. Langhorne as King. The maids of honor were Mary McLeod, Nina de Lis, Hemphill Erving, Luz Rubio, Alberta Clark, Helen Dorrington, Carrie Angur, Maria Fecket and Harriet O’Brien. The King’s courtiers were Herbert Glona, G.S. O’Reilly, Henson Ely, Daniel Maloney, Major Howland, Captain Nuttman, Captain Weigel, Mr. Bowdeth and Mr. Geslar.

An American woman reigned at the 1917 Manila Carnival. The carnival wasn’t held for three years (1910,1919 and 1929); no queen was chosen in 1911. It is interesting to note that panic struck in 1932 right after the coronation when a false rumor spread that the Philippines would be occupied by Chinese troops. No one was hurt in the melee.

In 1926, the Filipinos had two queens, Socorro Henson (the last Carnival Queen) and Anita Agoncillo Noble of Batangas (the first Miss Philippines). The latter’s court was made up of Misses Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and all of them were chosen by a group of judges. The Carnival Era lasted until 1939 and produced 29 queens all of whom became accomplished in their fields of endeavor. Only two of them are still alive.

Most Notable of these queens are:

• Pura Garcia Villanueva (1908) –
The first Filipina beauty queen. She was already an accomplished writer even before she was chosen in the first ever Manila Carnival. Her articles both in English and Spanish were published in her hometown of Iloilo and in Manila. She married Teodoro M Kalaw, then an assemblyman representing Batangas.

• Paz Jurado Marquez (1912) –
She wrote the classic short story Dead Stars which most of us read in school. She later became the editor of the Philippine Journal of Education and co- founded the St. John’s Academy together with her sister.

• Trinidad Roura de Leon (1920) –
She became the country’s First Lady. Former President Manuel Roxas was already the Governor of Capiz when they got married. She was the first Filipina beauty queen to become First Lady, the other being Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos (Muse of Manila 1952).

• Trinidad Rodriguez Fernandez (1924) –
She became the first woman in Southeast Asia to assume an ambassadorial post in 1958. She also became minister plenipotentiary to Cambodia and Laos and in the early ’60s she was named one of the 13 women leaders of Asia.

• Anita Agoncillo Noble (1926) –
The first woman to be given the Miss Philippines title. She later married National Artist for the Arts Juan Nakpil. Their daughter Edith Nakpil won as 1956 Miss Philippines. However, Edith forfeited her trip to the Miss Universe pageant.

• Pacita Ongsiaco delos Reyes (1929) –
She became a distinguished lawyer. She started the family legacy of winning pageants. Her cousins, Blesilda Mueller Ocampo, Yvonne delos Reyes and Simonette delos Reyes, represented the country in the 1954, 1955 and 1970 Miss Universe pageants respectively.

• Maria Villanueva Kalaw (1931) –
She was the daughter of Pura Villanueva. They became the first mother-daughter beauty queens in the country. Maria entered public service and later served as a senator of the country and MTRCB chief.

• Conchita Chuidian Sunico (1935) –
She became a prime mover in promoting cultural shows in the country to benefit charitable institutions.She was also a recipient of the Legion of Honor from the Philippine Government for her work during the war. In 1964, she was appointed Tourism Commissioner. She is also well-loved among showbiz personalities and beauty queens having been involved in the Karilagan Finishing School.
List Of Carnival Queens:
• 1908 – Pura Garcia Villanueva – Queen of the Orient

Marjorie Colton – Queen of the Occident

• 1909 – Julia Guerrero Agcaoili

• 1912 – Paz Jurado Marquez

• 1913 – Julia Otero Arceo

• 1914 – Dolorez Perez Rubio

• 1915 – Concepcion Zurbito Medina

• 1916 – Manolita Delgado Barretto

• 1917 – Mela Fairchild (American)

• 1918 – Enriqueta de Vega Aldanese

• 1920 – Trinidad Roura de Leon – Queen of the Orient

Virginia Harrison – Queen of the Occident

• 1921 – Carmen Prieto

• 1922 – Virginia Vidal Llamas

• 1923 – Catalina Castillo Apacible

• 1924 – Trinidad Rodriguez Fernandez

• 1925 – Carmen Arevalo Papa

• 1926 – Socorro Martinez Henson (last carnival queen)

Miss Philippines winners

• 1926 – Anita Agoncillo Noble

• 1927 – Luisa Fernandez Marasigan

• 1929 – Pacita Ongsiaco delos Reyes

• 1930 – Monina Consuelo Zaldarriaga Acuna

• 1931 – Maria Villanueva Kalaw

• 1932 – Emma Gonzalez Zamora

• 1933 – Engracia Arcinas Laconico

• 1934 – Clarita Villarica Tan Kiang

• 1935 – Conchita Chuidian Sunico

• 1936 – Mercedes Montilla Montilla

• 1937 – Ma. Del Carmen "Chita" Zaldarriaga

• 1938 – Guia Gonzalez Balmori

• 1939 – Iluminada Tuason

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

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