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American man collects thousands of antique photos that captured the beauty of old Manila


A 76-year old American citizen loves the Philippines so much, he has a collection of antique photos that show what the country had been like over the years.

Many of the photos immortalized the beauty of old Manila.

In an episode of iJuander, John Tewll shared that he has over 12,000 photos in his collection.

There even came a point where he shelled out P2,000 for an old, authentic picture of the iconic Jones Bridge.

It all started when he visited an antique store in Ermita, and couldn't take his eyes off some dated portraits of Filipinos in the 1930's. He eventually bought them, which started this passion.

Some of the photos captured old buildings of Manila, including the El Hogar Building in Binondo, Boix House which served as the college dormitory of former President Manuel Quezon, and Ides O'Racca Building in Divisoria.

There are photos of wars and battles, street scenes in old Cavite, and even Mayon Volcano's eruption in 1928.

Because of his age, Tewell has forgotten where some of his original photos were kept. Fortunately, the antique photo collector was able to preserve most of his antique pictures by digitizing them.

Now, he has a digital archive with thousands of heritage photos.

"I'm retired so I have a lot of time to look on the internet. I used to buy a lot of the original photographs but they have become more difficult to find and the price have gone up," he said.

His passion for collecting Filipino heritage photos has helped him connect with Pinoys. Even if he admitted to not knowing how to speak the language even after residing in the country for 14 years, he is still able to communicate with the locals.

"It is non-verbal but we still understand each other. They see the picture and then they will comment about something that happened to their old relatives. And such, yes it is a way of communicating."

The retiree believes that he "really doesn't own the pictures". Rather, they belonged to the people of the Philippines, as well as their heritage.

"As a person, I really don't know why, but I really find satisfaction to find photographs and post them online. I am getting one million views every three months. That's a lot of Filipinos interested in their heritage so I think I'm helping," Tewell said.

According to his Flickr page, Tewell lived most of his life in Kansas, USA. He is now retired and lives in Metro Manila with his Filipina wife.

—Angelica Y. Yang/JCB, GMA News

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