Philippines 1955

When I was real young, around the late 1970’s, I had this idealised vision of the Philippines in the olden days. Probably, this personal version of my country was brought on about by the Amorsolo paintings (and similar) I saw as a kid, the kundiman music I sometimes hear at home, and the tales Tatay (what I call grandpa because that’s what Mom calls him) told me about that time of Philippine history he referred to as Liberation.

A while back, I received an email with clear photos taken in and around Manila circa 1950’s (maybe). Although I was born in 1974, looking at those photos triggered a sense of nostalgia and I don’t know why. It’s the same feeling I got when I look at old photos my parents and family when they were younger.

I’m just saying that I loved old photos like that. So when I discovered a creative commons (essentially free) movie file about the Philippines of the 1950’s available on the web, I quickly downloaded it.

Download video here.


“Pearl of the Orient” brought to you by your old friend (and good friend), Coca-cola.

It’s called “Pearl of the Orient” and it’s brought to you by our old friend (and good friend), Coca-Cola. Although it pretends to be a sort of documentary about the Philippines of the 1950’s, it is actually a propaganda film to boost Filipino consumer awareness of the product Coca-Cola.

Because of this, it is actually quite funny to watch. Specially with its claim of sugar being a nutricious component of the drink. And you’ll also notice the repetative claim that Coke has been with the Filipino since time began and so, “an old friend, is a good friend, someone once said.”


Tinikling in an idealistic old-day Filipino setting.

It started with a piece that seems to have been taken in a Nayong Pilipino type setting featuring tinikling dancers and people wearing idealistic country Filipino costumes. Even though it was an obvious play at a Filipino’s sense of patriotism, it was still amusing to watch.

I especially enjoy watching the parts where it shows parts of the Philippines of the 50’s. It gives me a glimpse of a land long since changed (for the worse in most cases). It gives me the same feeling I get from watching old Filipino black and white movies. Below are some stills from the actual short-film just to give you an idea of what to expect from it.


I assume somewhere in old Manila. I personally don’t recognise where.


Idealised sari-sari store.


Old Coca-cola truck. I’ve seen these in use even in the very early 80’s.


Welcome to Manila! Oh and by the way, Drink Coca-cola.


Nice day at the beach.


Kanto-basketball – as popular back in the 50’s as it is now.


Is that San Juan de Dios?


Peñafrancia Fluvial Festival, I think?


Singer with rondalla.


Where the heck is this swimming pool now?

There are various versions of the movie file to download depending on your connection. If you have a broadband connection, I recommend you download the DivX or MPEG4 version. The lower quality ones aren’t as enjoyable to watch because of the heavily digitised images.

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Published in: on March 13, 2005 at 10:36 pm  Comments (1)