Manila in 1952 – the diary background

This post is about a small diary in which I recorded what I saw and lived in the year 1952. It contains entries I made in a small pocket diary from Philippine American Life Insurance Company during that year. Of course, I mainly recorded things that were important to me as an 18-year-old in the last year of high school in the Philippines in the first part of 1952 and as a freshman in college in the second part of the year.

Below are photos of the actual diary. I did not remember keeping the diary until about 5 years ago when my niece, Ligaya, my deseased older brother’s daughter, found it among her father’s belongings and sent it to me.  As diaries go, this one was rather unusual because it was only 7 cm by 11 cm in size. This meant that the most I could write in the space for a one day entry was about 6 or 7 lines, if I wrote in very tiny letters, and 4 lines, if I used larger letters. In some ways it was a kind of early day Twitter. Also, I used a fountain pen or sometimes a nib drawing pen; ball point pens were not very reliable in 1952.

Dairy Cover

Dairy front page

Dairy size

Dairy entries

One unusual thing about the diary is I kept it partially to record the feelings I had about living in the Philippines.  My father had brought the family (my mother, older brother, two sisters, and me) from New York City to the Phillipines four years before in 1948, three years after the end of the Second World War. I had barely adjusted to life in what my friends back in Staten Island, New York called “the edge of civilization”. Now I was on the threshhold of starting manhood and was confused about what I wanted to do with my life, wondering if I would ever find a girl who would like me and perhaps even marry me, and undecided about staying in the Philippines after college or returning to the United States. The diary touches on all of these, albeit in a very cursory way given the shortage of space. In the process, I noted some of the more prominent events of the time, including when rock ‘n roll hit Manila, and encounters with a few people who later played significant roles in the growth of the Philippines in a wide variety of ways. This site is about all of this. In order to protect the privacy of my friends from that time I will not use their actual names.

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