Monday, December 10, 2007


In December of 1904, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, editor of National Geographic was told by his printer that he was short on copy for its next issue. What made matters worse was that Grovesnor had no other manuscripts on hand to fill the space.

However, by sheer chance, he had received in the mail 50 beautiful photographs of Lhasa, the mysterious capital of Tibet, on the very day that he urgently needed eleven pages of material for the January 1905 issue. The Russian explorers who took the pictures offered them free; thus, he was able to fill the entire eleven pages -- with photographs.

Grosvenor expected to be fired by the magazine's board of directors for filling so much space with just photos. But when the magazine was published, people stopped him on the street to congratulate him on the Lhasa photo spread. Hence he started to run more and more pictures in National Geographic.

A cousin of his, William Howard Taft who was then the governor general of the Philippines, sent him 138 pictures depicting the Philippines, which he published in the April 1905 issue. It proved to be very popular that a second printing was immediately ordered. The discontinued left over "wine colored" cover stock was used to fulfill the rushed demand for a second printing.

Thereafter, membership in the National Geographic Society soared from 3,662 in January 1905 to 11,479 by the end of the year.

A mint copy of National Geographic April 1905 issue was sold on ebay for $120.00.

But nonetheless, it would be nice if somehow National Geographic could share with us, even in digital format, this particular article with those photographs of the Philippines taken during the American colonial era.


posted by Señor Enrique at 3:37 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that's really an old edition. Interesting! But it'd be good like you said if they could find a way to share those photos.


December 10, 2007 4:20 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

I so agree with you, Eric. I wanted to see too those pictures during the spanish colonial age. That would be a real peep into the past.

December 10, 2007 5:59 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Hi Eric, it is still on sale... at USD 1 ??!!
I clicked on your link.

It is still on sale till December 14, 2007.
I would bid but I have no credit card (it was stolen in Naga).

It was in 1905 so I think there is no copyright anymore and we might scan and post those pictures.

If you got a credit card and you want to bid for me go ahead. I pay you back in January. I can tell you my maximum bid by email...

December 10, 2007 7:25 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...


Please ignore my reference to the Tiruray tribe as the the cave people in the Manda Elizalde NG scam. I just can't remember the details on the article which came out in the 70's. Research the story, it's very interesting!

I found the bound volume of the 1905 National Geopgraphic magazine here at work. It is a non circulating for building use only copy. "The Revelation of the Filipinos" is tha article title
NG volume XVI, no. 4 dated April 1905 on pgs. 139 through 200 with lots of interesting photographs.

"The surprising and exceedingly gratifying condition of their education, intelligence and ability revealed by the first census of the Philippine Islands and the unexpected magnitude of their resources and possibility for development.

Let me ask our special collection Librarian if we could scan the article and photographs.

December 11, 2007 5:56 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Although back in NYC I did about 75% of my shopping online, Sidney, here in Manila, I am yet to make a single purchase online with a credit card.

Reason: I was advised by my bank manager not to use my one and only credit card online because many of their clients had experienced fraudulent uses of their credit card accounts right after having used them online. I guess, the bank's credit card database is not at all that secure.

However, let me find another option for us to bid on that magazine.

December 11, 2007 5:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hopefully, Rey, we'd be able to discover how we could tap into NG archives. I will also try writing to them and inquire.

December 11, 2007 5:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Kyels, indeed they'd be interesting for us to see and appreciate. Hopefully, many images from Manila were taken and not just provincial landscapes. As you know, at that time, the pro-colonial movement in the States were painting the Filipinos as unable to establish self-government.

December 11, 2007 6:02 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...


Seems like I lost my reply to you a whila ago. But yes I found the bound copy of volume XVI, no. 4 dated April 1905 of the National Geopgraphic Magazine which has the article titled "A Revelation of the Filipinos" The surprising and exceddingly gratifying condition of their education, intelligence and ability revealed by the first census of the Philippine Islands and the unexpected magnitude of their resources and possibility for development.

It is a non-circulating to all borrowers and building use copy only. I will ask the special collection librarian's permission if I could scan the whole article with all the photos included. Hang in there and I will get back to you soon.

December 11, 2007 6:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Pete!

Okay, I deleted your first comment.

Awesome, man! You found the 1905 April NG issue!

If allowed to scan, perhaps, you can create a special gallery on pbase or flcker or fotothing for these photos and I will help promote them :)

Maraming salamat, Pete!

December 11, 2007 6:41 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Sidney,

Pete found the bound copy of volume XVI, no. 4 dated April 1905 of the National Geographic Magazine.

We may not have to bid for the magazine on ebay! Pete may be able to get permission to scan the images :)

December 11, 2007 6:46 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

wow! i hope to see that soon.

December 11, 2007 8:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

We're working on it, Carla :)

We'll keep you posted.

December 11, 2007 9:22 AM  

Blogger Oman said...

Whenever I travel and go to these historic Philippine places, I can't help but be awed by the marvel and beauty of the place. I can't help but imagine how these places looked like on those old times. It would be truly fantastic if NG could show those pics taken during those old times.

December 11, 2007 11:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

We may be fortunate enough to view those images soon, Lawstude. Check back for update :)

December 11, 2007 2:48 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

Looking forward to seeing the old pics. :D

December 11, 2007 3:30 PM  

Blogger joe said...

Hi Eric,

I'm all ears and eyes on this. Another 1900's era like that of the St. Louis Expo (great photos...hope you saw them). Anyway, I have a watch on ebay until Dec.12 on a NG 1905 Reprint. It's up to $34.75 last. Let's see what Noypetes can dig meantime.

December 12, 2007 12:37 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

There are old copies of NG at Ateneo's Rizal Library. Maybe I've seen that article about the Philippines back in college. What caught my attention was that they still use non-PC words like "savages."

December 12, 2007 1:37 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You may want to check out Gemma Cruz' Manila Bulletin article on that, Dave -- she has it on her blogsite also (November 18, 2007 entry - )

That word was used so as to depict the Filipinos as lacking know-how for self-governance; thus justifying their colonial interests.

But for the good news, Noypete is now arranging for those NG images on Philippines and article scanned for all of us to check out.

December 12, 2007 3:31 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Joe -- Noypetes was able to get permission to scan and is now in the process of finding ways to share them with us :)

December 12, 2007 3:33 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'll make sure that everyone gets a chance to see these photographs, Luna. I'll keep you guys posted :)

December 12, 2007 3:34 AM  

Blogger pusa said...

that is a very good news! wow im giddy with excitement :)

btw i already visited the manila museum last week, i couldnt find it at first and no one knows where it is and keep pointing me to the national museum :) great photos in there too, thanks for sharing everything to us senor :)

December 12, 2007 4:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's wonderful, Pusa! I heard they'll put up a larger exhibition pretty soon. I'll keep you posted. Did you take pics of the place?

Yes, we'll let you guys know once we have the Nat Geo pics ready!

December 12, 2007 5:44 PM  

Blogger Editor said...

I am the first bidder to make it over the reserve. I am pinoy and collect rare books. Will post it up if I win it. I will get it scanned then will preserve it with my collection.


December 13, 2007 3:29 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Eugene!

I am so glad that these vintage pictures have elicited much interest from our Pinoy community worldwide! Goes to show that our youth are still very much interested with our local culture and heritage :)


December 13, 2007 7:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again a very informative post. Wow, going back to 1905 is way loong ! I wonder if the NG pages are still intact with the photos. We will have to wait and see what Noypetes scans would look like :) It would be very interesting indeed to see these century old photos.

December 13, 2007 11:46 AM  

Blogger pusa said...

yep senor i took some photos from the museum but not quite good as yours, will post some photos of it soon :)

December 13, 2007 2:43 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure your pics are as fine as always, Pusa. And yes, I definitely look forward to seeing them up on your site soon :)

December 14, 2007 6:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

They are suprisingly in good condition, BW. I can't wait until these photos are once again made available for everyone to see and enjoy :)

December 14, 2007 7:15 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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