Teodulo Protomartir: How his Photos of Manila in Ruins during World WarII made Him the Father of Philippine Photography

TV Director of comedy show “Bubble Gang”, Uro dela Cruz and celebrated Manila tour guide Carlos Celdran talked about “Images of Manila – Then (1946) and Now (2010)” through the efforts of Museum Foundation of the Philippines Inc. Uro, who is a camera collector shares how he serendipitously bought a camera from an antique-selling store in Escolta which is owned by a man said to be the Father of Philippine Photography.  He talked about the almost unbearable bad smell of the crumpled and wet negatives from Teodulo’s camera and how they painstakingly save his pictures from ‘extinction’.

Teodulo worked in a camera - importing company during his time. By 1930, he led a group of photographers scouring the old Manila taking pictures. Few photos that surprised Uro, was taken somewhere in Lucban, Quezon his hometown, in a place where he used to walk every day when he was a kid. Teodulo traveled outside Manila to take pictures too. He even took a photo of Mayon Volcano in Legazpi, Albay. His negatives usually have notes on it, like what level of exposure, the speed or what kind of film he used. Every week, his group would gather to discuss matters about their hobby which at that time is only for the rich, conduct photo exhibits and a radio show.

Carlos, an authority on Manila’s history guided by Teodulo’s photographs, visited again these places and took pictures of how it looked like today. He said that Manila is a reflection of the world: a hodge - podge of cultures from the East and West. One touching photo shown is an old and skinny Teodoro wearing sunglasses to hide his eyes that is nearly succumbing to blindness. He died shortly before two of his daughters became professional ophthalmologists.  But his photos of Manila are priceless and forever will be historical pieces to the Filipinos. He is indeed worthy to be the Father of Philippine Photography. Below are some of pictures he took around 1940's.

Teodulo getting blind because of old age with his priced cameras







Quirino Grandstand






Santa Mesa



Plaza Miranda





Lucban, Quezon


35 Mm Camera Club
Note: The talk was conducted last Sept. 8, 2010 at Silverlens Gallery, Makati

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