Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fruit Vendors c.1898 (and 2009?)

Except for their costume of saya't tapis, these fruit vendors of Cavite would be the same women you'd see today in the talipapas of Metro Manila, in front of Balintawak market in Caloocan, on the overpass across Commonwealth Ave. in Manggahan, or in any town or city market from Aparri to Zamboanga.

According to the American with the camera and pencil who roamed the towns and cities soon after the country was 'pacified' following the fall of Manila in August 1898, these women smoked cigars or cigarettes, which was almost the general rule in those days when the cigar factories employed mostly women, and when Alhambra and Jose Rizal were the 'in' cigar brands.

Well, today's women would be very wary about the hazards to their health from smoking, and there would probably some who'd light a stick of their favorite filtered or unfiltered brand every now and then. Of course, they don't put the lighted end inside their mouth now.

Nothing's change really. Then and now, haggling remains the transactional art between buyers and sellers (still predominantly female), but in the old times, the sentimo worthed much for the negotiation. But not anymore; even the street urchins would reject 25-centavo alms.

The picture is taken from the second volume of Jose de Olivares book, Our islands and their people as seen with camera and pencil, published in 1899, available online from the Southeast Asia Visions digital library collection of Cornell University.

We haven't counted yet, but our guess is that there are more than a hundred photographic illustrations there. But these and the accompanying captions (and the book as a whole) could have adversely affected the mainland USA readers' appreciation of a people fighting a guerrila war to keep their independence, and lobbying later in Washington DC that, yes, we are worthy of running our national affairs.

1 comment:

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