20 Rare Photos of the Manila Carnival That You've Probably Never Seen Before

Featuring the booths, parades, and Carnival Queens.
IMAGE COURTESY FAMILY ARCHIVES OF ENGRACIA LACONICO-ZARA, CARE OF HER GRANDDAUGHTER GRACE ZARA-VELASCO

Manila, during the time it was called the "Paris of the East" and the "Pearl of the Orient," is an endless source of fascination for us. It's pretty obvious at this point, really. We'd give anything to travel back in time to see just a glimpse of the city at its heyday. But, thankfully, we don't have to as we're lucky enough to have a few photos from the era.

Of course, one of our first stops would have to be the Manila Carnival. The annual festival, which was patterned after the famed World Fairs, was staged as a celebration of U.S. and Philippines' relations. The showcase brought together all sorts of companies, government agencies, provinces, and more to display the progress of the American colony. Here are some rare photos of the Manila Carnival featuring the booths, parades, and Carnival Queens that you've probably never seen before.

The main entrance to the Manila Carnival 

View of a large Manila Carnival building

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Crowds gather to watch the parade on the esplanade of Luneta

Carnival on the esplanade of Luneta in Manila, Philippines, 1908

One of the many intricately-detailed parade floats

1908 Manila Carnival, Philippines

The Red Cross parade

Annual Red Cross Carnival Parade, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 2, 1918

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Filipino nurses walk the Red Cross parade

Filipina nurses, Red Cross Carnival Parade, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 2, 1918

A view of the crowd at the 1922 Manila Carnival

Entrance to the Manila Carnival. February 15, 1922.

The San Miguel Beer Garden at the 1922 Manila Carnival.

San Miguel Beer Garden at the Manila Carnival. 1922

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The Carnival Queen coronation was the highlight of the festival.

Manila Carnival Queens. 1933

The program, referred to as the precursor to Philippine pageants, was made up of daughters of de buena familias from all over the country.

More: The History of Manila Carnival Queens, the Philippines' First Beauty Queens

Manila Carnival Queen 1916 Manolita Barretto

Manolita Barretto. Manila Carnival Queen of 1916.

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Manila Carnival Queen 1921 Carmen Legarda Prieto and consort Basilio Valdes along with members of her court

Manila Carnival 1921

Manila Carnival Queen 1926 Socorro Henson

1926 Manila Carnival Queen

The year was also the first time the carnival held a national beauty contest, crowning Miss Philippines, Miss Pearl of the Orient Seas, Miss Luzon, Miss Visayas, and Miss Mindanao.

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The provincial exhibits allowed merchants to show off their wares

Provincial Exhibits, Manila Carnival.

Here's a look at the carnival grounds

Carnival Grounds, Manila.

Stores, restaurants, and more had booths at the festival

Manila Carnival booths.

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A view of the auditorium at the 1921 Manila Carnival

Partial interior view of the auditorium of the Magallanes Carnival. Manila, P.I.

Wu Tingfang, former minister from China to the United States, pitching the first ball in baseball championships at the Manila Carnival

Image from page 34 of

The Department of Agriculture and Commerce pavilion

1938 Philippine Exposition, Department of Agriculture and Commerce pavilion

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The University of the Philippines booth at the 1930 Manila Carnival

Facade of University of the Philippines, Feb. 1930

An aerial view of the 1926 Manila Carnival

Manila Carnival. 1926

A view of the Manila Carnival at night

Manila Carnival. 1926

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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