Republic of the Philippines - Stamps and Postal History



Philippine Postal History

The study of covers with postal markings pertaining to postal routes and rates, types of mail,  and the development of postal service.





  • Outbound

  • Inbound

  • Domestic:

Speed Air Mail



Special Delivery




Articles of Interest


The Speed Air Mail Service






California, here I come? Or, go?


By Paul Woodward 

(Originally published in Linn's Stamp News, July 1, 1974)

Hilarious, it could be. Pathetically true, it is. Fail-safe, it isn't!  It is the mail delivery system. And the journeys all of them of the illustrated cover just about sum it up. 

The initial postmark of the Manila, Philippines, Air Mail Section shows that the journey started on Jan. 30, 1974 when the postage of 1.80 pesos was noted in ink in the upper right corner and the two 50s Imelda Marcos and two 40s Gen. Malvar stamps were affixed, and this letter from Frank Stanfield, the Manila dealer, to Carasan Company in Culver City, Calif., was ostensibly on its way. 

The letter got as far as the "Returned to Sender" stamp on the annotated date of Jan. 31. The sender was told to pony up an additional 5.70 pesos of postage. This postage was affixed to the back of the cover, and the Manila Air Mail Section again used its canceller, this time dated Feb. 5, 1974. 

Then, off goes the cover to Culver City, where it is received and backstamped Feb. 9, 1974, just a few feet away from the post office box of the addressee. 

But wait hold it! Can't you see the notice on the front?  "Return to Sender." It's an airmail envelope, all right, but it clearly states it is 5.70 pesos short on postage; so, send it back by boat. 

Weary, torn, tired and all but unglued, it arrives back in Manila on May 9, 1974, where "J.M.C." applies paper bandages on three sides, initials and dates the top bandage and stamps it twice: "Received in Bad Order." 

No wonder, after a nonstop flight from Manila to Los Angeles, then no rest before a three month boat trip back to Manila, including several trips through sorting, canceling, and packaging machines. 

After the emergency first aid, the Manila Air Mail Section most efficiently notes the re-arrival by backstamping with a May 9, 1974 date. 

Perhaps the reader is wondering at this point, "What goes on here?" And so is someone in the Manila post office.  A large question mark is penciled on the face, underlined for emphasis. It's time to get this thing unraveled and that is what "L.M.M." does on May 10, 1974, noting initials and date in the upper right corner, just below "J.M.C.'s" notation of the day before. "L.M.M." does the unthinkable: checking the postage affixed against the "Return to Sender" requirement. 

Let's clear away the snow and sleet and gloom of night and get this thing on it's appointed round. Just one thing left to do: cross out the "Return to Sender" notice, since it had been satisfied a full three months ago. 

Clear and forceful action is in order, so clear and forceful it is: a red "Forward" and directional arrow to Culver City are boldly written on the face. 

At 8 a.m. on May 21, 1974, the letter is unceremoniously dropped into its intended port, Box 2003 in Culver City. Two transoceanic flights and one boat trip halfway around the world, 111 days later this "first, fast, reliable" airmail letter arrives at its destination. 

This cover's journeys shed light on why the last registered letter took seven months by surface mail from Bangkok to Culver City and why an airmail parcel from Baltimore took but five weeks. With all the recent postal rate increases, three or more trips can use up money much faster than just one. 

And it also helps the pinched airlines and merchant marine.





Back to the Top



Back to the Top