Thursday, 6 February 2014

From My Mother's Mementos: Fotos y Recuerdos

We all have photo albums. They preserve the visuals of our memories and of times that will never come back. But thanks to photographs, we can always look back at our past. Or at least, the happy part of it. Ha-ha-ha!

My Mom has her own collection of old photographs. She said she made it a point to collect photographs even when she was young. So, when I was home last Christmas, I ruffled into them and asked her about some interesting ones. I recognized some young faces, which are now a bit older, some titas during their younger days as belles of the town, and even one ninang (godmother), who, according to another godmother, was probably the most beautiful girl in the province during her time.

There were close to a hundred photographs, most of them in black and white, printed when the technology for colored pictures wasn't available yet. But now, even with all colors and Photoshop-ing that you can do with digital photographs, I still appreciate those black-and-whites because they look so vintage and unique. The stories they tell are not in anyway muddled by the colors.

Let me show you some photographs that caught my eye.

A six-year old Boy standing next to a covered piano at the sala of balay-dako. His gaze looks so innocent, but yet there seems to be something more behind it. Mischief, perhaps? Ha-ha-ha!

An excited looking Paul on his birthday with his sister Florence sitting in front of his birthday cake with a cowboy motif. Cousin Marla is looking at the cake and must be wondering whether it was yummy. Standing next to Marla is a playmate, Holly, who grew up in Manila and couldn't speak Ilonggo when she and her siblings, Joey and Jinkee, moved to Victorias when their granddad, Mr. Napoleon Montilla, was assigned to manage the PNB in Victorias. My Mom in the picture seems to be directing the whole show.

Ninang Dotty in a gown and looking ready for a ball or a Reyna Elena type of a town festivity.

Tita Marilou and Tita Gamay joined by other pretty young ladies in gowns. The belles of the town, so to speak.Their gowns must have looked colorful. But we'll never know, will we?

I was intrigued about this photograph when I saw it because the mother holding the baby was a very beautiful mestiza. My Mom said this was Betty Magalona and her children. Even the kids look cute! According to my Mom, Betty Magalona was the younger sister of Susan Magalona, who was really known to be very beautiful and was even called the 'Helen of Troy' of Negros. If you see Susan Magalona's photographs on the Internet, her beauty is like the 'old Hollywood' type. I was told her portraits hang at the Balay Negrense in Silay City. I should visit that place on my next vacation. Susan Magalona was the sister of Pancho Magalona, the actor.

This is another photograph of the family, this time with presumably the father of the cute kids. If this is Betty Magalona's husband, he must be Dr. Quintin Gomez. 

My Mom said Betty Magalona used to visit Lola Theang (Dorothea Magalona-Montinola) at 'balay dako' in Victorias City, and one time my Mom asked her for her photograph to keep as a memento, and as these two family photos were with her at that time, she gave them both to my Mom.

This is Maninay (ninang) Bebing when she was 'Queen Estela' at the town fiesta of Saravia, now E.B. Magalona, in Negros Occidental. According to another ninang, she probably was the most beautiful girl in the province during her time. The photograph explains why.  I was told her small tiara was clustered of real diamonds, and her earrings and necklace were of real diamonds as well from Tita Luz's jewelry collection. According to someone who was there that day, her gown must have been a Ramon Valera, which was flown in from Manila, and she was made-up by Toti Evangelista, a popular make-up artist that time.

There were still a lot of photographs at my Mom's collection. Perhaps, on my next homecoming, there will be more pictures to discover and more stories to tell. 

This is what I like about black and white photographs. Although they're in monochromes, their stories can still be very colorful.

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