Dolores and friends in Manila

When I started this blog four years ago, I decided to post only photos taken before 1940.  It was an arbitrary line to draw, but I wanted to draw one somewhere, and a century seemed like a good place to do it (1839-1939).  For one thing, sitters in photos taken after 1940 are more likely to be alive, and might not want their photo online.

Judging by the hairstyles of the women above, this studio portrait was probably taken in the 1940s.  I decided to make an exception of it because it’s such a wonderful image of three friends.  Their fashions, facial expressions and body language all hint at their personalities.  Could they still be alive today?  If the photo was taken in 1946 (a guess), and they were twenty years old at the time, then they would have been born in 1926 and would be about 95 today.  It’s certainly possible.

In the lower left corner of the image is an inscription:

To Randy, Love Dolores

On the back, Dolores also wrote her name and address.  I can’t quite make out her surname:

Miss Dolores Greyanio [?]

168 Kubi, San Andres

Sub.Dv. Manila P.I.

Dolores and friends at Elma Studio 3


The portrait was made at Elma Studio, which I haven’t found any record of:

Dolores and friends at Elma Studio 2


I imagine these young women coming to Manila to work or study, and maybe living in a dorm, where they met and became friends.  Who was Randy?  The photo was for sale in Pennsylvania, so he may have been an American.  All we might infer is that he valued the photo enough to keep it, possibly for the rest of his life.


31 thoughts on “Dolores and friends in Manila

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  1. It is a lovely photo – I like the background with palm trees. Reminds me of one I have of my in-laws. There must be a love story here between Dolores and Randy. These were lovely young ladies. Wonder which was Dolores. The one seated looks very much like a Dr. Wen that is often interviewed about COVID-19 on CNN. I wonder what she is holding. You can break your own rule anytime!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d also be curious to know which woman was Dolores. If someone can decipher her last name, maybe we can solve the mystery. The seated woman seems to be holding a leather portfolio of some kind. It looks too big to be a purse.

      Photos from the 1940s can be really interesting. It was a relatively conservative time, but people did cut loose now and then!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Randy was possibly in the US forces, there was a lot of bad stuff going on in the Phillipines in WW2 in the early 40’s, with the US surrendering to the Japanese in ’42. The Philipines were then occupied by the Japanese until 1945 when the dreadful Battle of Manila ended and it was captured by the Americans. It is a lovely photo.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re absolutely right, C.J., which is why I speculated that the photo was taken after the war. The Philippines became an independent country on July 4, 1946. Many Americans left after that. Randy could also have been a Filipino who emigrated to America later on, but that seems less likely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve watched so many American war movies I can only think Randy is the short version of Randall, so USA 😊 this photo made me think of ‘Madam Butterfly’, amazing how photos can take you on a flight of fancy!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I love how your posts set people, from all around the world, thinking and conjuring stories The young women have their whole lives ahead of them. I hope they lived long and fulfilled lives, and that Randy and Dolores lived happily ever after!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for trying, Micah! Early photos from the Philippines are quite rare here. I almost never see them, which is kind of surprising, considering how many Filipinos have immigrated to the USA. (In 2011, Tagalog was the fourth most-spoken language in the USA, according to Wikipedia.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Brad, this is one of those moments when the title of your blog is so meaningful. I too imagine a relationship interrupted by the war. Each of the young women has a unique expression, but that of the woman seated is heartbreaking. Perhaps the leather portfolio was left behind when Randy had to depart quickly and couldn’t take it with him. I imagine something top secret, and a movie script is shaping in my mind. Wonderful photo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The portrait definitely has a cinematic quality, doesn’t it? Maybe it reminds us subliminally of movies we’ve seen from the 1940s. The lighting is dramatic, too, making the white fabrics glow while leaving the right side of the image slightly in shadow. Whoever Randy was, he made a big mistake. I picture him taking this photo out of a drawer years later and thinking, “Wonder where she is now?” Thanks so much, Mary Jo! 😌

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It certainly is possible that one of more of these lovely young women still is alive. I have a 95 year-old aunt who’s quite alive, in her own home and maintaining an active social life. Oddly, one of her sisters was named Dolores.

    As for the past coming to life through the internet, it’s only been since I began blogging and doing some light family research that I learned I have an uncle buried in Manila. I don’t have his letters to his brother, my dad, but I have a few that Dad wrote to him that probably came back to the family when my uncle’s possessions were returned after his death in the South Pacific. In one of those letters, Dad mentioned the ‘sweet girl’ that my uncle had met. This trio looks like any one of them could qualify as a ‘sweet girl.’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It seems to me that Dolores is the girl who sits on the chair. Her eyes tell me that she is with Randy forever. Whatever obstacles are on her way, nothing can prevent her and Randy from being happy together. Lovely photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These three women look like they could be a lot of fun. If I lived in Manila back in the day, I’d want to pal around with them, and I’m serious.

    P.S. I liked the previous comment about a movie script in the making…

    Liked by 1 person

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