for instance, many national collegiate athletic association (ncaa), university athletics association of the
years before he became a national icon and world-class champion, efren “bata” reyes used to frequent the billiards hall at the corner of dapitan and navarra—a stone’s throw away from the window of
many boxers, including former world boxing champion rolando navarette (“the bad boy from dadiangas”), trained rigorously for their amateur bouts in a rusty old gym along paquita, an alley off morayta and far eastern university.
but perhaps, sampaloc’s biggest contribution to philippine popular culture is the proliferation of beauty connoisseurs, beauty contestants and beauty pageants in the district. sampaloc was home to many of the country’s nationally and internationally acclaimed beauty queens, models, designers, hair and make-up stylists and talent managers. many talent scouts discovered potential candidates for national beauty pageants in locations around the city’s schools and universities. soon, the talent scout and his/her cohorts took turns in transforming the new find. In this connection, nothing beats the story of tita beth (
when i was about three years old, tita beth was pushed by fashion designer danny acuna to join ferdie villar’s annual miss republic of the philippines (miss r.p.) contest, a late 1960s-early 1970s local preliminary to the miss world pageant in london. tita beth was very reluctant to join the pageant because her family was very conservative. she was also an active student leader at the u.s.t. college of commerce. she wasn’t really into beauty contests.
but acuna was persistent. against the wishes of many family members and friends, tita beth was groomed and trained hurriedly at acuna’s atelier at the corner of governor forbes and espana. tita beth decided to give in for the sake of experience. being the well-bred woman that she is, tita beth easily made the final cut for the 1969 miss r.p. contest.
during the miss r.p. finals, tita beth bested heavy favorites like university of the
after the pageant, tita beth became a celebrity of sorts in sampaloc and elsewhere. she modeled for a few designers and was invited as a sagala for countless santacruzans all over the country. despite her social commitments, tita beth completed her commerce degree at u.s.t. eventually, she married antique-born and ateneo-bred lawyer exequiel javier.
years later, tita beth’s brother-in-law evelio, then governor of antique province, was assassinated. tita beth became very active in street demonstrations against widespread government oppression and neglect. atty. javier was pushed to take the place of evelio and was subsequently elected as a governor (once) and as a congressman (four times). many believed that atty. javier’s impressive track record as a farmer, corporate lawyer, political leader and lawmaker was enhanced further by tita beth’s commitment and dedication as an amazing wife and mother. she was always behind her family. on top of these, tita beth has a distinguished career as a banker. truly, tita beth’s narrative is an amazing sampaloc success story.
it seems prodigious that there were many other beauty delegates who lived and/or studied in sampaloc. in fact, many of these women were university of santo tomas students: guia balmori (1938 miss
other beauty queens from sampaloc included jennifer cortes (1978 bb. pilipinas universe), maria isabel lopez (1982 bb. pilipinas universe), corazon tierro (1984 bb. pilipinas runner-up), anthea robles (1988 bb. pilipinas international) and karen agustin (2002 bb. pilipinas universe).
fashion designers and stylists who either lived, studied or began their careers in sampaloc included danny acuna, sonia aquino, carlos burgos, alex carbonell, steve de leon, rudy diego, jun encarnacion, grace lagman, jay lozada, tanya mendoza, fernando marasigan, leslie ocampo, freddie reyes, ricky reyes, renee salud, and violet. at some point in their lives, these individuals discovered, managed and/or mentored nationally and internationally-acclaimed athletes, beauty queens, film stars and models.
these days, fewer students and graduates from reputable schools can be persuaded to join beauty pageants. these contests seemed to have lost their vitality and touch in many parts of the country. beauty pageants are no longer regarded highly because many people maintain that these contests commodify women. pundits declare that beauty pageants served their purpose from the 1900s (when pre-world war two carnival queens were selected annually) to the 1960s and the early 1970s (when gemma cruz, gloria diaz, aurora pijuan and margarita moran bagged international titles). by the 1970s and the 1980s, filipino women have many other options.
but not in sampaloc. there will always be billiards, boxing, basketball and most especially, beauty connoisseurs, beauty contestants and beauty pageants in my side of the city. the persistent blurring of high and low cultures all over the district will always be difficult to explain or account for.
arsenio lacson (governor forbes) street
nagtahan bridge is one of the gateways to sampaloc
don quijote between espana and p. florentino
view of don quijote from tinapayan, along dapitan
railroad behind algeciras and antipolo streets
u.s.t. faculty of medicine and surgery
view of the u.s.t. grandstand and athletic field
u.s.t. chapel and ecclesiastical faculties
u.s.t. main building
view of u.s.t. fra angelico (architecture and fine arts) building
view of u.s.t. campus from the arsenio lacson (governor forbes) gate