A Fifty Year Old Passport…

from a Philippines Author

ppThis is my grandfather’s passport from the 1950s. With a matte, almost linen-like, khaki-colored cover and numbered by hand as No. 3155. It provides a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of civilized travel. Forget computerized bar-coding, filament-infused security paper, or even electronic chips in the most modern, highly laminated, and tamper-proof travel documents. This old passport definitely had style, in the same way, my Lolo used to go to court in cream-colored linen suits.

pp1A calligrapher spells out personal details in a genteel script in black ink. And my grandfather’s name seems to flow on the pages of this document. His occupation, listed as Lawyer-Businessman , never looked so appealing as it did in this passport and his signature, done using one of his classic fountain pens, is appropriately elegant and, bizarrely, a bit similar to my own signature today, though mine is sharper and somewhat more harried, with less rounded corners. An embossed gold seal and various signatures of Department of Foreign Affairs officials make the document seem more legitimate, and the black and white photo of Lolo is simply stuck onto one of the pages with glue, albeit GOOD glue, as it remains firmly attached to the passport, some 50+ years after it was issued. pp2pp3

No lamination or other safety features are in place. But then again, with just 3155 passports issued that year(?) or in that series, I suspect it didn’t seem necessary at all.

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