Saturday, 8 August 2015

Old Pre-WWII Photo of the Day: A Piece of Victorias' History

Whenever I fly home, I sometimes rummage through my mom's photo albums full of black-and-white photographs. And sometimes, I chance upon some pretty historical photographs. 

And this photograph is definitely one.

It's a photograph taken at the house of Don Felix Montinola in Victorias, Negros Occidental. Then, it was a municipality; now, it's a chartered city.

Just like my 'fotos y recuerdos' blog last year, I stumbled upon this black-and-white photo and put in words the story this image was telling us.

Don Felix Montinola (seated in the middle) served as the 9th mayor of Victorias from 1935 to 1941. To his left is his wife, Doña Dorothea, whom everyone fondly called Lola Theang, and surrounded by, presumably, guests from the US government considering this was during the American-led Commonwealth Period (1935-1946), or Americans working at the Victorias Milling Company at that time.

A high school owned by the Montinola family was named after Don Felix. It's official name was Don Felix Montinola Memorial Institute and was one of the private high schools in Victorias. I heard it closed.

This photo was taken on February 17, 1940, at 11:45AM. I'm not sure what the lunch menu was, but I can see a bowl of 'pancit molo' and a plate of oysters. Since it was a Saturday, I presume lunch started early and this photo was taken when everyone was having dessert, wine, and conversations about local politics presumably carried in English. I can only guess if they actually had brazo de mercedes for dessert, but if they did, I am almost sure their guests would have wanted I would!

The gentleman on the right of Don Felix is Valeriano Gatuslao, who was the governor of Negros Occidental at that time; he was the provincial governor from 1937-1940, and from 1954 to 1965.

And the man on the right foreground is Don Jose Gaston, the father of Monsignor Gigi Gaston, and owner of the famed Gaston Mansion at Hacienda Rosalia, where scenes of Peque Gallaga's masterpiece, Oro, Plata, Mata, were filmed.

The men at the table at the back must be playing the card game blackjack as they seem to be very interested at what's going on the table. We won't know who won big at their game that day, but how I wish the lady (with hair in a bun) helping the guests on that table would have told us. She is Doña Quintina 
Montinola Fermin, or Lola Tinay to all her grandkids, and was the eldest daughter of Don Felix and Doña Dorothea. Lola Tinay's sons, Jesus and Renato Fermin also became mayors of Victorias, and her younger brothers, Hector and Benito, were the 12th and 14th mayors, respectively.

Although I grew up in this small city, I still have a lot to learn about its history. I guess this 75-year old photo, taken before World War II, is a start.

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