- Rizal Memorial Football Stadium
More from year 1966
Jul 03, 1966
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The Beatles landed at Manila Airport the previous day, at 4:30 pm. The Beatles were driven to the Philippine Navy Headquarters where a press conference was held. Afterwards, they were taken to a private yacht owned by a wealthy Filipino named Don Manolo Elizalde, a friend of local concert promoter Ramon Ramos Jr. Late in the evening, they left the boat and went to the Manila Hilton. They finally made it to the hotel at 4 am.
Also on the day of their arrival, The Manila Sunday Times ran a story explaining The Beatles had been invited as guests by the Philippines’ First Lady, Imelda Marcos, on August 4, at 11 am.
On the morning of August 4, The Beatles were woken up by security guards to go and join the invitation.
Apart from McCartney, who went sightseeing with Aspinall, the Beatles slept in late on 4 July until woken by security staff intent on taking them to a party hosted by Imelda Marcos in their honour at Malacañang Palace. The event was scheduled for 11 am and had been announced in the previous day’s edition of The Manila Times. While the Beatles were unaware of this announcement, Epstein had already declined the invitation when they were in Tokyo. This was in keeping with his policy since 1964 regarding all embassy or other official functions to which the group were often invited while on tour. The 1966 itinerary mentioned only that the Beatles might “call in” at the palace at 3 pm en route to their first concert. Turner interprets the casual wording of this item as Ramos, faced with delivering on Imelda Marcos’s wishes, “burying the invitation in the small print, hoping for a compromise on the day”.
When confronted by Lewis, who was also woken by the presidential guards that morning, Epstein dismissed his suggestion and that of Leslie Minford, a chargé d’affaires at the British Embassy, that the Beatles should make an exception for the First Lady of the Philippines. The Beatles were equally adamant; when told by the guards that President Marcos was among the dignitaries awaiting their arrival, Lennon retorted: “Who’s he?” The band learned of the offence that Imelda Marcos had taken at their nonappearance while watching television at the hotel before leaving for the first concert. Footage from the palace was broadcast of the empty seats reserved for the four Beatles, children crying in disappointment, and the First Lady saying that the visiting musicians had let her down.
The following morning half a dozen uniformed aides from the presidential palace appeared at the door of Vic Lewis’ hotel room. Lewis was the NEMS booking agent who had arranged for certain parts of the international tour and had joined the touring party in Japan. The military police demanded to know what time the Beatles would arrive at “the party.”
“What party?” Lewis asked groggily. “I know nothing of any party.” He directed the officers to Brian, who was having a late breakfast with me in the hotel coffee shop. These military police in khaki uniforms had an unpleasant edge to their voices when they again demanded to know what time the Beatles would arrive at the “party.” We managed to learn from them that Imelda Marcos, the wife of president Ferdinand Marcos, was giving a luncheon party in honor of the Beatles, and they were expected shortly at the presidential fortress, Malachang. In some quarters Imelda Marcos was more feared than her dictator husband; she was an Eva Peron like figure with a reputation for being as demanding as she was venal. She had a special taste for the famous and celebrated, and had invited 300 children to the palace to meet the Beatles with her.
Brian claimed that this was the first time he had heard of the invitation to the party. He later learned that in Tokyo the publicity man, Tony Barrow, had received such an invitation but somehow nothing had been done about responding. Whether or not it was ever relayed to Brian, by either Barrow or Vic Lewis, was now a moot point; the Beatles were simply not going. They were up in their rooms, fast asleep and in need of rest. Brian wasn’t about to have them woken up to be told they were due at the palace in a half hour.
Minutes later, upstairs in our suite, Brian received a call from the British ambassador to the Philippines, who said that he didn’t think it was a good idea for the Beatles to miss Mrs. Marcos’ party. All the help and protection they were receiving in Manila was courtesy of the president, and this was not the right country to stand on ceremony about an invitation. It was best not to insult them. Brian said he was sorry, but he was adamant they would not attend. Even if they had received the invitation in time to prepare, they would have refused. Long ago, in Washington, D.C., on their first trip to America, he had made it NEMS policy that the Beatles would refuse all official functions, whether given by diplomats, royalty, or dictators.
Ignorant of this turn of events, the Beatles slept peacefully right through the party. They were awakened by Neil and Mal in the afternoon and served breakfast, after which they were escorted to the Araneta Coliseum in twin limousines.Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002
Quite early on Monday morning a pair of high-ranking military officers came to the Manila Hotel, a general and an admiral, according to Vic Lewis. They announced that they were the reception committee who would escort The Beatles to the palace. They also spoke of the luncheon laid on by Imelda Marcos “in the group’s honour” and attended by hundreds of “children of the aristocracy”. Still in his pyjamas, Lewis said he knew nothing of a morning appointment or a lunch party but he would inform Brian of the request.The officers spoke coldly: ‘This is not a request. We have our orders. The children who wish to meet The Beatles will assemble at eleven.’ Vic [Lewis, NEMS employee] threw on a shirt and trousers, phoned me and we went to see Brian Epstein, who was having a late breakfast. Vic told me: ‘I have to warn him that these people are hot-blooded. A snub would be unwise.’ Unsurprisingly, Epstein refused to compromise: ‘I’m not even going to ask The Beatles about this. Go back, Vic, and tell these people we’re not coming.’ If everyone had acted quickly and positively at this point, the boys could have made it to the palace and avoided a disaster. Our convoy from the hotel to the football ground could have been re-routed via the palace and our stay reduced to a diplomatic minimum. Instead, Epstein left his breakfast to inform the general personally and very pompously that he knew of no formal invitation and he would not wake up the boys until it was time to prepare for their afternoon concert. The officers left without another word but within minutes Epstein took a phone call from the British ambassador’s office advising him that we would be playing a highly dangerous game if The Beatles failed to comply with the wishes of the First Lady and reminding him that the ‘help and protection’ that The Beatles were receiving in Manila was courtesy of the President. Epstein remained stubbornly adamant and washed his hands of the matter. The Beatles slept on in their suites unaware of all this mayhem and the rest of us went about the day’s business according to our various responsibilities on the day of a concert.Tony Barrow – From “John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me: The Real Beatles Story” by Tony Barrow, 2006
You have mentioned that you witnessed the Manila incidents. They were in trouble with President Marcos. What can you tell us about that?
Robert Whitaker: You know, there were very few in the entourage. There were Epstein, The Beatles, Tony Barrow, Alf Bicknell, the road manager, me, Peter Brown and I think, Wendy Hanson, Brian Epstein’s secretary. Tony Barrow, the press officer, told me many years later that he knew that the Marcos family asked The Beatles for tea but The Beatles were never told. We didn’t go to tea and the next morning all the newspapers and the television said that The Beatles had snubbed the Marcos family, which wasn’t true. They didn’t know. We didn’t know. Tony Barrow knew, Brian Epstein knew. And it affected the concert.
We had come from Tokyo, which had been very beautiful. I think it had been the most honorable concert The Beatles did and they enjoyed themselves very much. Manila was like going backwards in time to a Third World country. The promoter had no idea about who The Beatles were and that was very difficult for them.Robert Whitaker – Photographer – From Beatlefan #108, Sept-Oct 1997
I went out on my own in the morning, down to the kind of ‘Wall Street’ area. I remember taking a lot of photographs because right up against it was the shanty-town area. There were cardboard dwellings right up against this ‘Wall Street’, which I’d never seen so well juxtaposed. I got the camera out: ‘Wow, this is good stuff!’ And I bought a couple of paintings from the shanty town as presents to go back home, and went back to the hotel to have lunch.
Everyone was up and about then, and we were in our hotel room when they started saying, ‘You’ve got to go to the President’s Palace now! Remember that engagement?’ We said, ‘No, no, no.’ The promoters, with those white shirts with lace that everyone in Manila seemed to wear, looked a little heavy to us. A couple of them carried guns, so it was a bit difficult.
We were used to each different country doing it their own way. They were starting to bang on the door: ‘They will come! They must come!’ But we were saying, ‘Look, just lock the bloody door.’ We were used to it: ‘It’s our day off.’
We found out later that it was Imelda Marcos (with her shoes and her bras) waiting for us. Somebody had invited us and we (gracefully, we thought) had declined the offer. But there was the TV announcer – their equivalent of Richard Dimbleby – saying, ‘And the First Lady is waiting with the Blue Ladies…’ (it was like America – they had Pink Ladies and Blue Ladies and First Ladies – and they were all waiting there)’… and pretty soon the famous pop group will be arriving.’ And we’re going, ‘Shoot – nobody’s told them!’ and the promoters are saying, ‘Well, you’ve got to go now. It’s only a limo to get there.’ And we said, ‘We can’t.’ We stuck to our guns and sat the rest of the day out in the hotel. We turned the telly off and got on with our day off.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000
The Beatles were on stage at 4 pm for their first concert in Manila, in front of 30,000 (the second concert of the day was scheduled at 8:30 pm).
From The Beatles in Manila: Remembering the Nightmare (esquiremag.ph), May 24, 2017:
The Beatles had agreed to do a 4 p.m. matinee and an 8 p.m. evening show. By 2:30 p.m., traffic at M. Adriatico Street leading to the Rizal Stadium was at a standstill. Over 750 policemen were stationed in and around the stadium. A custom-built, air-conditioned dressing room right on the football field awaited The Beatles. Outside, around 35,000 fans sweltered under the afternoon sun.
There were seven opening acts that were scheduled to perform ahead of the Beatles. Rock band Eddie Reyes and D’Downbeats with D’Cavalcade Dancers (Pepe Smith was a member of D’Downbeats, not D’Cavalcade Dancers). Crooner Dale Adriatico. Singers Angie Yoingco and Nikki Ross, better known then as Wing Duo. Pilita Corrales, already hailed then as “Asia’s Queen of Song.” The Lemons Three, joined by Pilita. And finally, the Reycards Duet (Rey Ramirez and Carding Castro), winners of a 1953 Quiapo singing contest who soon lived the American dream as established performers on the Las Vegas strip. […]
The Beatles arrived in two limousines after the matinee had started, as Dale Adriatico was on. There were way more people present than they had expected, and that did not please them at first. George remembered, “When we got there, it was like the Monterey Pop Festival. There were about 200,000 people on the site and we were thinking, ‘Well, the promoter is probably making a bit on the side out of this.” Within the last 24 hours, they had been through the kerfuffle at the airport, the inanity of the press conference, cabin fever at the yacht, the exodus to the hotel, the knocks at their door from policemen who wanted to bring them into a Palace. They were fucking pooped, and they had not yet performed. In the dressing room, Ringo and John lay in their beds. They turned off the television, cut off the speaker from the stage show so they need not hear Pilita sing. […]
An intermission lay between The Reycards and The Beatles. The boys dressed in the attire Brian Epstein had chosen for them: black trousers, lavender printed shirts with wide collars, and lavender coats with red stripes. They started tuning their guitars while still inside the dressing room. They went onstage and waited for the curtains to part. Behind the scene, Paul started to dance the twist, and the stagehands laughed.
The Beatles performed only for 30 minutes in the matinee, and another 30 minutes in the evening show. […]
From PhilStar, October 9, 2011:
On July 4, 1966, The Beatles performed two concerts at the Rizal Memorial stadium to at least 100,000 lucky Pinoys. I was there but outside the stadium grounds because I couldn’t afford the P20 entrance to the concert. I contented myself with the faint inaudible sound of The Beatles drowned by hysterical screams of the fans. During that concert, The Beatles only performed 10 songs, which was less than 30 minutes and the opening acts that included the Reycards, Lemons 3, Aldeguer Dancers, Pilita Corrales and the Downbeats with Pepe Smith performed four times longer than The Beatles. […]Danee Samonte
From Positively Filipino, July 4, 2014:
What was it like hearing The Beatles in person? Hearing? You couldn’t hear a word or a note, what with all the screaming and clapping and “I love you” thrown at John, Paul, George, and Ringo! What was clear was that John especially was intently listening to the sound system and shouted with concern to the audience: “Could you hear me back there?!” Of course, the audience’s reply was unclear, whether it was a Yes or a No.
But who cared? What was important was The Beatles were there IN PERSON! They wore striped light-gray suits, they were singing, talking, looking at us. They were human, not just some cardboard representations of the world icons that they still are. And they were in Manila!
Being an avid fan of the Beatles, I had bought two tickets maybe just two weeks or so before their performance. The tickets were naturally quite expensive, and so I got seats somewhere in the middle.
The concert was at 4 pm, July 4, 1966, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. […] Pilita Corrales was front act, and much as I admired Pilita as a singer, I was so impatient for The Beatles to appear. When they finally did, my jaw dropped and for a moment I was so still, as I usually am when initially stunned or flummoxed. Then, they sang songs from their then-new album Rubber Soul, which I had memorized as the album was a pasalubong of my father who had visited London. […] They threw in their signature songs like “Love Me Do” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” which, if I remember right, was the first song to blow the Filipino youth away. […]
The Beatles epitomized the spirit of the ’60s – acceptance of rock as art, rebellion against authority, sexual revolution, anti-Vietnam War, drugs, Asian/Oriental influence, all that the conservatives feared.
Yes, The Beatles were in Manila. And although they were humiliated by Marcos bootlickers at the airport when they left, they later forgave the Filipinos after learning we were under a dictatorship. […]Marra PL. Lanot – From The Beatles in the Philippines — Positively Filipino | Online Magazine for Filipinos in the Diaspora
Last updated on November 4, 2023
Setlist for the concert
The setlist for this concert is incomplete, or we have not be able to confirm in an accurate way that this was the setlist. If you have any clue, pls let us know and leave a comment.
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