1917 Philippine Float (Courtesy of the Tournament of Roses Historical Commission


LOS ANGELES – Time was when the Philippines and Japan were the most interesting places in the Pacific Rim, at least to colonial America. The Tournament of Roses, which started in 1890, validated this historical vignette when, in 1917, it recorded a most significant feature of the Rose Parade — “Hotels from Yokohama and Manila enter massive floral floats for the first time.”
In a historical entry by Joe Hendrickson (Tournament of Roses, a Pictorial History), he stated that, “The year 1917 will go down in the Tournament of Roses history for two reasons: The Parade became international in scope, with hotels from Yokohama and Manila, as well as American cities, entering massive floral floats…” The other reason was about football becoming a national sporting event for the first time. Hendrickson completed his entry with the highlights of the Oregon -Pennsylvania game. Also mentioned was the Hawaiian participation, with an impersonator of the legendary King Kamehameha escorting the float on an outrigger canoe formed of marigolds, smilax, and white carnations.
A copy of the 1917 archived photo of the Philippine float, obtained by these writers from the Tournament of Roses Historical Committee, depicted the Manila float as an ensemble of flowers and palm leaves put atop a trailer with spoke wheels. A “bahay kubo” made of palm, surrounded by bamboo fence was visible on one end of the trailer. Four young mestiza women, clad in elaborate Filipina dresses, were shown riding the float, one holding a banner marked “ CITY OF MANILLA.” Manila was obviously misspelled, but the floral decorations on the side of the float showed “Manila.
Sixty years later
It was not until 1997, exactly sixty years later, when the Philippines came back to join the Rose Parade again. The country fielded a two-tier float depicting two famous Philippines landmarks — the Rizal Monument and the Ifugao Rice Terraces. Also highlighted on the float were the exotic Pampanga parols and the colorful Zamboanga vintas. The following year, in 1998, another two-tier Philippine float participated, this time depicting the ubiquitous Pinoy jeepney and the mystical Filipino icon sarimanok. Both entries won “Most Beautiful Float from Outside the USA” honors.
Historical perspective
At the turn of the 20th century, the Philippines was under the American sovereignty, which started when Gen. Wesley Merritt assumed the duties of Military Governor of the Philippines on August 26, 1898. With the subsequent election of Woodrow Wilson as president of the United States, he appointed Francis Burton Harrison the next governor of the new island territory. Harrison served from 1913 to 1921.
The late Fil-Am newsman/historian Jonathan Briones said, “It was during the time of Harrison when “American policy took a turn toward Filipinization. The President appointed majority of Filipinos to the Philippine Commission and thus to Filipinize the Philippine legislature. Thereafter, the Jones Law of August 29, 1916 was enacted with a preamble in Wilson’s own hand (quoted in part) … to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein.” Briones put in perspective the Philippines’ Rose Parade participation in 1917 when he commented, “Seeing a float from the Philippines at that time, the crowd may had likely been seeing a representation of an independent country about to be born… although, independence did come until July 4, 1946.”
(Editor’s note: Larry Pelayo has covered the Rose Parade for the Fil-Am media for the past 25 years, making him the most authoritative Fil-Am journalist on the subject. He is the only Fil-Am writer who gets Rose Parade media accreditation every year.)
Meanwhile, all roads lead to Pasadena for the 2012 Rose Parade which will take place on Monday, January 2, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. (PST). The parade, which is presented by Honda, features select marching bands, stunning high-stepping equestrian units, and massive floral floats. Themed “Just Imagine…,” this year’s parade celebrates the power of imagination, inspiration and determination to encourage people to reach higher and try harder.
According to the information provided by the official Tournament of Roses website (www.tournamentofroses.com.), “this year, the Rose Parade (which is often referred to as the “Rose Bowl Parade”) and Rose Bowl Game will take place on Monday, January 2 according to the Tournament of Roses’ “Never on a Sunday” tradition. In 1893, officials decided it would be best to avoid interfering with Sunday worship services and decided to move events to January 2nd whenever January 1st fell on a Sunday. The last time the “Never on a Sunday” policy was in effect was in 2006.”
Parade Grand Marshall
Earlier, the Tournament of Roses announced that J.R. Martinez , retired soldier, actor and spokesman, will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 2012 Tournament of Roses festivities. As Grand Marshal, J.R. Martinez will ride in the 123rd Rose Parade presented by Honda in front of a worldwide television audience, and toss the coin at the start of the 98th Rose Bowl Game.
“J.R. Martinez is an inspiration to us all and a natural fit for our theme Just Imagine…,” said Rick Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses. “J.R. is not only a courageous and engaging role model for us all but has dedicated himself to helping not only servicemen and servicewomen, but all Americans facing challenges. His outlook on life is admirable and we couldn’t be happier to have the chance to celebrate the New Year with him as we entertain the millions of fans around the world during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.”
“J.R. Martinez was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, and on Apr. 5, 2003, less than a month into his deployment, he was serving as a driver of a Humvee in Karbala when his left front tire hit a land-mine. Three other soldiers with Martinez were ejected from the burning vehicle, but Martinez was trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to  40 percent of his body. Martinez spent 34 months in recovery at BAMC and underwent 33 different surgeries including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
“During his time in recovery, a nurse asked Martinez to speak to a burn patient who had become withdrawn after seeing his body for the first time post-injury.  After Martinez’ 45-minute visit, the patient began to open up.  Seeing the impact a simple visit had on this patient, Martinez decided to use his experience to help others, visiting with several of the patients in the hospital, sharing his story and listening to theirs.  Since then, Martinez has become a highly sought-after motivational speaker, traveling the country to spread his message of resilience and optimism.
“When I was first asked to be Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses festivities by President Jackson, I was speechless,” said Martinez.  “To be able to participate in this iconic American tradition on New Year’s Day is something I could only imagine.  I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m grateful the events of my life have provided me with the opportunity to share my message of hope and possibility on New Year’s Day.”
The Tournament of  Roses webpage also stated that information about dates, times and prices that appeared on the website are subject to change and visitors are encouraged to call the toll free Visitor Hotline, (877) 793-9911; or contact the Tournament of Roses office, (626) 449-4100. The 123rd Rose Parade will be broadcast on ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision. The Parade is also seen in more than 200 international territories and countries.
Rose Parade Tickets
Grandstand seating for the Rose Parade is available through December 31. Every person, regardless of age, must have a ticket to sit in the grandstands. However, if a child is two years of age or younger he/she may sit on an adult’s lap. If not seated on an adult’s lap, each child must have a ticket. Call the Sharp Seating Company, the official Grandstand Seating Provider, @ (626) 795-4171. Curbside viewing is also welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. Pasadena city ordinance allows the occupancy of curbside space along the Parade route beginning at noon on the day before the parade.■