Today in Philippine history, July 4, 1966, The Beatles played 2 concerts at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium

Monday June 22, 2020 ()

On July 4, 1966, the popular British rock band, The Beatles, played two shows at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila, to over 80,000 fans.

The Beatles arrival in Manila Internatonal Airport
(The Beatles arrival in Manila Internatonal Airport)

The group arrived in Manila in the morning of July 3, 1966 from Japan, stopping briefly en route in Hong Kong. Upon their arrival, The Beatles were greeted by 5,000 fans at Manila International Airport.

The group were driven in a cavalcade, escorted by 6 police motorcyclists, 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.

On this, the day before The Beatles' two scheduled performances at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, the Manila Sunday Times ran a story which would lead to the most troublesome aspect of The Beatles' stay in the Philippines. The Sunday Times read:

President Marcos, the First Lady, and the three young Beatles fans in the family, have been invited as guests of honour at the concerts. The Beatles plan to personally follow up the invitation during a courtesy call on Mrs Imelda Marcos at Malacañang Palace tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock.

Nobody in The Beatles' party saw the newspaper until later. The visit was not part of their itinerary, nor was it discussed. The promoter, Ramon Ramos, had been forced to promise the palace that the visit would occur, and was afraid to tell manager Brian Epstein in case it resulted in a refusal.

The 11 o'clock meeting was to have been followed by a luncheon at 3pm, one hour before the first of two concerts in Manila, which would have left them with little time to prepare. Ramos was caught between the prospect of either offending the palace or The Beatles, and so he left matters as they were.

On board Don Manolo Elizalde's yacht, The Beatles were guests of honour at a party attended by wealthy Filipinos. It wasn't until 4am that Brian Epstein allowed them to leave for their suite at the Hotel Manila. The group's exhaustion meant they were still asleep when government officials arrived later that morning to take them to the palace.

The Beatles and Brian Epstein were unaware that a reception with the Philippines' First Lady, Imelda Marcos, had been arranged for them to attend, followed by a luncheon in the group's honour.

Concert poster pf the Beatles in 1966
(The concert poster)

The group had finally reached their suite at the Hotel Manila at 4am. They were sleeping when two high-ranking government officials arrived later in the morning and announced that they would be escorting The Beatles to the palace.

Epstein inform the government official 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 the mayhem.

The Beatles performed two concerts at Manila's Rizal Memorial Football Stadium as scheduled. The first was at 4pm before 30,000 people, and the second was in the evening before 50,000.

Meanwhile, news broadcasts had reported the snub, which resulted in public hostility escalating at a rapid rate.

The Beatles had never intended to snub the Philippines' First Lady, Imelda Marcos, on the day of their two concerts in Manila. However, on this day, July 5, they awoke to chaotic scenes as a result of the misunderstanding.

The Manila Times newspaper carried a front-page story accusing The Beatles of "snubbing the First Lady and the three Marcos children", leading to serious ramifications for the group.

From then on The Beatles' troubles escalated.

Staff at the Hotel Manila refused to provide room service or to handle their baggage, although their driver remained loyal.

Their police protection having suddenly disappeared, the group and their small entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, they were spat at and jostled by a hostile crowd.

The airport management and staff had been instructed to give no assistance to The Beatles' party. Escalators stopped working as they approached them, forcing them to carry heavy amplifiers and instrument cases.

The Beatles were finally able to leave Manila for New Delhi, India via a brief refuelling stop in Bangkok, Thailand arriving safely back in the UK on July 8th at 6:00am.



Comments (Today in Philippine history, July 4, 1966, The Beatles played 2 concerts at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium)