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 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 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.
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 identity and memory. Sixty-four years later, we celebrate Protomartir. We celebrate Manila. We celebrate Philippine Independence.