P.S. Carriedo, face of Davao’s cinema

Though he was not the first to open a movie house in Davao City, Pedro S. Carriedo popularized cinemas as amusement venue. His son-in-law, Pedro M. Lat, later joined the bandwagon and in alliance with him opened theatres in population centers outside the city proper.

Born in Pasig, Rizal, on June 29, 1879, Carriedo was the son of Clemente and Carmen Sta. Ana. Diligent and hardworking, his life was comparable to a fairy tale. He was a man in a hurry who, in his young age, was expelled as a 5th year student from San Juan de Letran. The memory of this sad experience made his life even more difficult.

An article (‘Career of Pedro S. Carriedo, Leading Davao Business Man, Is Like Fairy Tale’) in TheTribune on April 29, 1939, described Carriedo’s struggle from his mistakes.

“From [expulsion from school] he lived a hard life battling battles, the wage earner fight. It was while he was a mechanic at La Rosa a cigar factory in 8an Nicolas, when the hectic Philippine revolution started. He joined the Katipunan.

“In this uprising, he was caught by the Spaniards but was able to elude his guards and escaped to the wilderness until the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed. He again studied engineering and was taken by the Manila Railroad Companv. He was not contented with his life as an employee and decided to speculate in business. He established caroceria (bodywork) and was, for some time, builder of stagecoaches for Malacañan.“

Despite opportunities, Carriedo was not cowed by the challenges that come with married life. In 1902, he married Asuncion San Jose, a lady from Manila. Again, life’s difficult struggles resumed; he became almost dirt poor, in part due to gambling and vice. He had no way but to sustain the needs of his family. But, he was unfazed; he stood up and worked much harder. He turned coachman after buying a horse and carromata.

Carriedo saved money from his earnings as coachman and “became a contractor for machine installations… the first to install big tanks for oil companies in Pandacan.” In 1916, at age 37, he migrated to Davao and found promise in the region. He returned to Manila and became a successful entrepreneur, he co-founded the Luzon Surety Co. and was a partner in the Carriedo and Navarro Investment. In 1938, he decided to permanently settle in Davao.

As a flourishing impresario, he also owned merchant vessels, namely Amparo and Angeles.

His marriage gifted him and wife Asuncion four children: Angeles, who married Lat; Leonor, who wedded Davao congressman Cesar M. Sotto; and two sons, Francisco and Juan. That same year, news of the rise of a modern theatre in the city owned by Mindanao entrepreneurs, which included Lat, hogged the headlines. A story in The Tribune (‘Davao to Have Modern Moviehouse’) dated April 21, 1938, goes:

“The city of Davao is soon to boast of a first class, air-conditioned theatre [Davao Theatre] to be built by the Davao Enterprise. Inc. organized by some leading citizens of the Mindanao metropolis. The playhouse is to cost around P130,000 and will have the most modern sound and air-conditioning equipment. It will have a seating capacity of 1,500. Construction will begin sometime this month.”

In Carriedo’s honor, several landmarks, many of them schools, are named in his memory.

Meanwhile, Lat, spouse of Angeles, continued to succeed in his Davao businesses and was particularly impressive in his own investments by following in the footsteps of his father-in-law. By 1939, he was already managing Carriedo and Lat Transportation, an enterprise he co-owned with his father in law. He also received congressional franchise for his ice plants and cold storages that at times dragged into legal suits.

He was also proprietor-manager of Radio Theatre in Sta, Ana, one of the most modern in the city. He owned Apo Theatre at Calinan and the Mayon Theatre at Toril. Through experience, he made the Carriedo-Lat cinemas first-run entertainment houses in the region, comparable to the best that Manila could offer. On the side, he owned what was “the finest and most modern residence in Davao,” which later hosted an open-air theatre.

In many instances, the lawns of the Lat mansion also served as meeting place for known luminaries of the time, including Rafael Alunan and Benigno S. Aquino, secretaries of interior and agriculture, respectively, with assemblyman Cesar Sotto, a son-in-law of Carriedo, as host.

Moreover, Lat also founded the Travelling Show, a circus and carnival entertainment troupe that went around Davao and opened the first bowling alleys in town. As supervisor of his own recreation center, he opened an automobile showroom, which offered short-lived display of cars. This was long before the late Don Antonio O. Floirendo became the exclusive distributor of postwar Ford cars in Davao.