These Historic Photos Were Colorized by a Filipino Engineer

Adlai Jawid spends hours putting color into black and white photos.

SAdlai Jan Garcia Jawid is a businessman by profession. He is the owner of a pest control company, but during his free time, he colorizes historic photos and old photographs. His Facebook page Kulay Colorization has over 60,000 followers. 

'Little Filipino Siblings' Circa 1914, Colorized by Adlai Jawid

His passion started at a very young age when he would wonder why some photographs are in black and white. "I would take the black-and-white photograph of my mother and would paint over the glass of the frame to colorize it," Jawid tells Esquire Philippines.

That was his first. "colorization" project. 

But it was decades later when he would seriously take on the painstaking art of colorizing old photographs. In 2017, he saw a colorized photo on the internet and was so inspired, he decided to pursue his old passion. 

But he had zero knowledge on photo editing and Photoshop. 

Jawid watched tutorial videos on YouTube on how to colorize photos using Photoshop. "I had to learn from scratch the basics of Photoshop, and then I watched the basics of colorization from lighting, color reference, and researching from historic records for accuracy of the colors."


Bulon, Chief of the Bagobo People. Circa 1904. 

Filipina Wearing Traditional Clothing Entering Intramuros (From John Tewell Library).

Filipino Family Outside Their Home Near Manila, Early 20th Century.

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Filipino Woman Carries Family Cross to Safety in Leyte. Nov. 6, 1944.

Photo from John Tewell.

According to Jawid, the hardest part of his work is researching the appropriate colors to use in historic photographs. 

The older and rarer the photo, the harder it is to look for color references from the same period. Because of his passion for colorizing historic photos, Jawid has also become an armchair archaeologist because he had to research fabrics, dyes, and their colors from centuries ago. 

One photo that took him over a year to finish is the famous Nine Sovereigns, an iconic photo of Europe's royalty who gathered in London for the funeral of King Edward VII. 

The Nine Sovereigns: Europe's Royalty Gathered in London for King Edward VII's Funeral. May 20, 1910.


"I had to research the color of the carpet, the paintings, and the clothing, but the most challenging part was the individual medals on the sovereigns' uniforms," said Jawid. 

Jawid spent over a year asking niche history groups that specialize in historic medals to know what colors to use on these decorations. But that wasn't enough. "I had to research the kind of awards and recognitions they symbolize, and that was very difficult."

But colorizing the Nine Sovereigns was nothing compared to the next photo, which almost made him quit.

The Photo That Nearly Made Him Quit

One photo took Jawid almost two years to complete. It was this magazine stand in Rizal Avenue in Manila, taken in 1949. 

Jawid had to research every cover of every magazine on the stand, and that almost drove him crazy. 

Photo from the library of John Tewell.

Every detail on the cover, including the text and clothing, had to be referenced with the actual preserved magazines from that era. 

"I almost gave up on this," said Jawid. 

Jawid sources many of his photos from the library of John C. Tewell, who has given him permission to use the photos from his collection as long as he gives proper credit. 

"I never erase watermarks on any photograph," said Jawid, who emphasized the importance of respecting other people's property. 

It is not only historic photos that Jawid breathes new life into. He also accepts commissioned works, but many of the ones he posts on Facebook were done for free, like this photo of Vico Sotto and his mother, Coney Reyes. 


According to Jawid, his rates are P2,000 per person in a family picture. He usually takes two to three days to finish a family portrait. 

Below are some of his best colorization works. 

Leyte Landing, 1944

Guards at the Causeway Connecting Cavite and San Rogue. Cavite, Early 20th century.

Filipinos on a Cow and Carabao with the Mayon Volcano in the Background. Early 20th century. 

"Soldados e Indigenas Filipinos." Circa 1898. 


Scene at Ateneo de Manila (Formerly Escuela Municipal de Manila), Intramuros. Circa 1887.

San Agustin Church, Intramuros. Early 20th Century

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor-at-Large
Mario Alvaro Limos is features editor-at-large at Esquire Philippines, and heads the Lifestyle and Esports content of as its section editor. Email him at [email protected] and [email protected]
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