Why the Philippines in '66 Never Quite Understood The Beatles

On The Beatles and their nightmare stay in Manila.

In the latest episode of Esquire Philippines’ podcast Lonely Hearts, host Sarge Lacuesta talks to David Guerrero, the chief creative of the Philippines and award-winning chairman of BBDO Guerrero. Guerrero, “a bit” of a Beatles fan, is currently writing a book on the band’s visit to the Philippines and all the drama that unfolded.

When The Beatles, the world’s biggest band, arrived in Manila in 1966, the trip was plagued with misfortune from the very beginning. From inadvertently “insulting” Filipino womanhood due to some flippant remark to the so-called snubbing of an invite to meet the Marcos family, The Beatles are said to have vowed never to return to the Philippines again.

On the nightmarish experience of the band, Guerrero explains that the situation wasn’t quite as black and white as the papers made it seem.

“Nick Joaquin writes about the whole thing in the Philippines Free Press about a week later... He’s actually quite subversive in what he writes. He does say, 'Look, they were cool, but we weren't cool enough to get them.' What he was saying is actually quite self-critical in the sense, you know, saying the Philippines wasn't ready for them,” said Guerrero.

“And we were only adopting the style of The Beatles rather than understanding that they brought into the counter-cultural revolution against the old order, whereas, essentially, this was still very much a place where the old order [ruled].”

While The Beatles’ sense of dry humor and flippancy charmed the Western press, it wasn’t quite the same in the Philippines, which was at the time only recently freed from its colonizers. The clash of cultures and the words lost in translation didn’t endear the boys to the press or the government, leading to one of the band’s worst memories touring.


Learn all about The Beatles’ unfortunate experience in Manila in the latest episode on SpotifyApple Podcastsand wherever you get your podcasts. Fun fact: Esquire Philippines' Lonely Hearts podcast is named after none other than The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "

Don't forget to subscribe to the Esquire Philippines YouTube channel.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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