Being There 1946: The Legacy of Teodulo Protomartir

Being There 1946: The Legacy of Teodulo Protomartir
June 9, Wednesday | 6-9pm
Silverlens Gallery

Teodulo Protomartir was there in 1946 when the Americans gave the Philippines its independence. On July 4, he witnessed the birth of the Philippine Republic. For the first time, the Philippine flag flew alone and free. The Filipino crowd cheering by, planes flying overhead, floats lining the parade…a celebration it was. And Protomartir caught it all on still camera.

Protomartir, the photographer who first brought the 35mm format to the Philippines and actively promoted photography through his photo club and radio show, shows us a monumental event in Philippine history and the Manila that enveloped it. Considered as the Father of Philippine photography, Protomartir captured the city in ruins from the Second World War, its battle wounds and its restoration – scenes we thought only survived in memory.  He captures post-war Manila’s architecture and landscape, with Filipinos going about their daily business in familiar places such as Intramuros, Luneta, Ermita and Quiapo as well as in buildings and bridges that are no longer, including the old Sto. Domingo Church, which is one of the six Churches that once stood in Spanish Intramuros. For almost four centuries there stood the home of Our Lady of La Naval before it was bombed in 1941.

Beyond historical evidence, the significance of Protomartir’s images is meaningful. Protomartir hands to the Filipino people cultural treasures that should remain part of Filipino consciousness and memory. Sixty-four years later, we celebrate Protomartir because through him we were there too.

Complementing this exhibit is a talk on July 1 by Carlos Celdran, celebrated tour guide and authority on Manila’s history. Entitled Placing The Transition, the talk bridges 1946 and 2010 with photos of the places Protomartir photographed as they are today. Uro dela Cruz will also be giving an introduction to Protomartir, the man behind it all. The talk will be on July 1, Thursday, 6-8pm at Silverlens Gallery.

The Images of Being There 1946: The Legacy of Teodulo Protomartir were printed by Billy MondoƱedo.

Words: Bea Davila, Image: Teodulo Protomartir, 4 (top left), 12 (top right), 417-418 (bottom), 1946

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