Manila XI: The Forgotten Football Tours of Indonesia

Club football in the Philippines and Indonesia may have grown in recent years but it was in the early years when both countries played against each other.

Back in the formative years of football, the Philippines and Indonesia have already been active with the sport by being development pioneers in Asia. Football was introduced in both countries by their colonial rulers. Soon organized matches were held as the Philippines Amateur Football Association (the forerunner of the Philippine Football Federation) was established in 1907 and the Nederlandsche Indische Voetbal Bond (NIVB was the predecessor of the Persatuan Sepakraga Seloeroeh Indonesia, which was founded in 1930) was set up in 1919.

Sporting clubs were established in the Philippines under the auspices of American and other foreign expatriates in line with the growing emphasis of physical education on their educational policy. On October 15, 1907, the first official football match was held in Manila, with the celebration of the opening of the Philippine Assembly. The trophy, a silver cup donated by the former colonial governor and future US President William Howard Taft, was won by the Sandow Athletic Club. Six other football teams were formed that included the Manila Sporting Club, the Paris Club, and the Manila Jockey Club.

In 1910, the Bohemian Sporting Club was organized and began to train football players. The All Manila team became the inaugural Filipino club champion. In 1920, the Circulo Social Deportivo was established and produced a football team. By 1922, Bohemian has won its ninth domestic title in a decade and managed one more in 1927. Soon it was the San Beda Athletic Club who won four straight titles before World War 2.

However, it was the Dutch who effectively established a league system that eventually caught on with separate regional leagues throughout the Dutch East Indies with different sets of teams playing on a regular basis in Batavia, Bandung, and Surabaya and later expanded into Solo, Yogyakarta, Malang, and Makassar. In fact, some teams even sported Dutch team names similar to that of the Eredivisie like Go Ahead, Mariniers, Vios, Hercules, Oliveo, etc.

The 1927 Tour

During the height of the football league circuits in both countries, the Manila XI was formed in 1927 with players from the Manila Sporting Goods (MSG) and perennial champions Bohemian led by the MSG trio of midfielder Antonio Pacheco, defender Sebastian Ugarte, midfielder Paulino Ugarte, and goalkeeper Santos Bacsal. Organized by the Bataviasche Voetbal Club (BVC), the Manila XI became the first Filipino club to play on tour in Indonesia.

Founded in 1903, BVC once played in an undersized pitch inside the city zoo but by 1914, foreign teams were invited to play against the capital team. Matches against visiting foreign teams attracted large crowds, despite increased ticket prices. In Padang, a bamboo fence surrounded the ground to ensure all spectators paid. There was a match where fifty fans climbed a tree to obtain a free view but it eventually collapsed killing two and injuring thirteen.

The Dutch East Indies opened up matches against foreign teams early in its football development

From May 15 to June 5, 1927, the Manila XI played against nine teams in three cities. In Batavia, the team beat the reigning Batavia Eerste Klasse champion Oliveo 4-2 on May 15. Six days later, it shut out the West Java Voetbal Bond (WJVB) XI selection 4-0. The following day, they lost in a hard-fought match against the Bataviasche Voetbal Bond (BVB) powerhouse Hercules 1-3 even though they took a 1-0 halftime lead. Perhaps, fatigue played a factor during that match. Another heartbreaking loss to the BVC on their final match 3-4 event after taking a 2-1 halftime lead. Their Batavia visit resulted in two wins and two losses.

Before massive stadiums became the norm, football was played in this type of atmosphere

The next stop was the neighboring city of Bandung for a match against the Bandoengsche Voetbal Bond (BVB) XI selection on May 28 but was later abandoned to heavy rain after leading 2-0 at halftime. The following day, it played against the perennial BVB champions Uitspanning Na Inspanning (UNI) where they hammered the hometown team 6-2 after a closely-fought first half at 2-1. Two days later, a rematch against the same BVB XI selection ended in a 5-0 massacre. All in all, the Manila XI swept the Bandung series with three wins.

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Manila XI played hard against the legendary Chinese club Tiong Hua

The final stop of the Java tour was in Surabaya. On June 4, they lost a close match against the hometown Chinese club Tiong Hua 2-1. That team has been the dominant football club in Chinese club tournaments (Chineesche Stedenwedstrijden) where it won 14 titles throughout its existence. On its final match, the Manila XI was handily beaten by the Soerebaya Voetbal Bond (SVB) XI selection 2-5 even though that the SVB was playing at a second rate after actively competing in the Stedenwedstrijden. Both games in the series were lost.

Overall, the team managed to win four matches, lost four, and one abandoned.

The First International Fixture

Years have passed and so much has changed in both countries' football landscape. By then, football has become fully-ingrained in the Indonesian sporting culture while the Philippines saw the emergence of basketball as a premier sport with the establishment of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Manila Inter Commercial Athletic Association (the forerunner of the Philippine Basketball Association).

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The Dutch East Indies eventually played in the 1938 FIFA World Cup in France

For the first time, both countries have finally played against each other in the 1934 Far Eastern Games with the Philippines scoring a come-from-behind victory against the visitors 3-2 after falling to 0-2 hole (courtesy of Velocitas ace Suwu Lontoh's brace) in ten minutes of play! The Republic of China eventually swept the football tournament to win the gold medal while the Philippines edging Japan on goal difference to settle for bronze while the Dutch East Indies' superior goal difference gave them the silver.

Kek Boo was one of the best Chinese players in the NIVB squad

The visiting squad that played against the Philippines is composed of mixed European, Chinese, and Indonesian players from different clubs.

GK: Henri de Wolf (UNI, Bandung)
DF: Ellis Denkelaar (Oliveo, Batavia; captain), Tan Chin Hoat (Tiong Hoa, Surabaya);
MF: Lou Baumgarten (Hoogere Burger School, Surabaya), Alois Amrein (UNI, Bandung), Asmoeadji (UNI, Bandung)
FW: Rd. Onong Noeman (S.V.B.B., Batavia), Suwu Lontoh (Velocitas, Tjimahi), Thio Kek Boo (Union Makes Strength, Batavia), The Hong Djien (Tiong Hoa, Surabaya), Tio Hian Goan (Tiong Hoa, Surabaya)

Some of these players may have probably played against the Manila XI years before as the same clubs were represented on the national side.

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The competing nations' flags were paraded on the football pitch

Meanwhile, the Philippine team also has players that were present in the 1927 Tour of Java (Ugarte, Pacheco, Bacsal) and so they already have an insight as to how their opponents play. So legendary coach Dionisio Calvo (who will coach the national basketball team to a fifth-place finish at the 1936 Olympic Games) fielded three of the holdovers of the Manila XI selection.

GK: Santos Bacsal
DF: Cirilo De Guzmán, Jesús Suárez
MF: Joaquín "Quinito" Ortigas, Arsenio H. Lacson (future Manila mayor), Ramón Alegre, Manuel Azaola (came in as substitute), Antonio Pacheco, Emilio Heredia
FW: Francisco Gutierrez, José Miranda, Sebastian Ugarte, Luis Sotelo

Years later, Hian Goan later represented the Republic of China in the 1936 Summer Olympics but did not manage to play in its only match.

The 1935 Philippines Football Championship

After the successful performance at the 1935 Far Eastern Games, the NIVB played as a guest team together with the Malaya Command of Singapore in the 1935 Philippines Football Championship. Due to internal conflicts within the NIVB, the 16 players came mostly from Surabaya (though without Tiong Hoa players, as this club had been excluded by the NIVB), with three additional players from both Malang and Makassar (which provided both goalkeepers and the center forwards). Hoogere Burger School (HBS) was represented by four players while the Chinese club Hua Chiao Tsing Nien Hui (HCTNH) had three players.

GK: Claassen (Makassar), Wensveen (Makassar)
DF: Tik Kwie (NIVB, Tiong Hua), Sie Tong Tjhiang (HCTNH, Malang), Pikal (Mena Moeria)
MF: Mantouw (Mena Moeria), Wim Röhrig (HBS), Achmad Nawir (HBS), Van Oorde (HBS), Siong Ling (HCTNH, Surabaya);
FW: Ie King Thong (HCTNH, Malang), Harings (Tot Heil Onze Ribben, THOR), Lee Giok Sien (Makassar), Poetiray (Mena Moeria), Nasaroedin (HBS), Ramsche (Xerxes, Malang).

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Some players of the 1938 World Cup squad played in this tournament

NIVB placed second in the final standing with the Malaya Command capturing the title sweeping all six matches. The only Filipino side that won against them was De La Salle College with a 3-1 come from behind reversal after the visiting side took a 0-1 lead after a goal from Lee Giok Sien.

Back then, the Rizal Memorial Stadium can accommodate over 30,000 fans. As there is no film reel or even clear documentary to prove it, it's a feat that is yet to be seen in any football match in the country. Goal-scoring machine Giok Sien went on to score 14 goals throughout the tournament. Meanwhile, Nawir went on captain the national team in the 1938 World Cup years later.

The 1935 Tour

After the productive 1934 Far Eastern Games and 1935 Philippines Football Championship campaign, a new Manila XI team that closely resembled the national team was formed paid a return tour to Indonesia to play against the best football clubs in that country. Ironically, there is trouble brewing that country's football landscapes as renegade football leagues and organizations were formed to go against the NIVB. By then, the PSIS was already founded thereby creating complications as to how football is managed moving forward.

Potret Sepak Bola Kota Malang Era Kolonial (1898-1941)
The 1935 Tour was overshadowed by ongoing infighting in the football federation

With the NIVB in its death throes, it only had five federation members left, including only one of the traditional big four: Surabaya, Malang, Yogyakarta, Solo, and Tegal. By June 9, 1935, the day before the match in Malang against the NIVB XI, the board resigned in its entirety, while simultaneously the Nederlandsch-Indische Voetbal Unie (NIVU) was formed at the Stedenwedstrijden in Batavia. The NIVB was liquidated in July 1935.

Aside from the 1927 Tour veterans, the rest of the squad is composed of players from the De La Salle College, the only team that defeated the NIVB XI in the 1935 Philippines Football Championship.

GK: A.Villanueva, R.Ygoa
DF: Cirilo Guzman, Jesus Suárez, Sebastian Ugarte (playing coach, took part in the 1927 tour)
MF: Charles Hagedorn, Manuel Miranda, Antonio Pacheco (took part in the 1927 tour), Paulino Ugarte (midfielder)
FW: Charles Borck (eventually for the 1936 Olympic basketball team), Emilio Heredia (captain), Premitivo Martínez, Joaquim Méndez, Joaquin Ortigas, Abelardo Reyes, Angel Villareal

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Coach Calvo and Borck (pictured) are the only ones who represented the country in football and basketball

Amidst the backdrop of uncertainty, the 1935 tour commenced a month prior to the dissolution of the NIVB with the Manila XI arriving in Makassar on May 21 to play against the Makassar Voetbal Bond (MVB) XI selection where it took a 2-1 halftime lead before going on to lose 3-5.

The team cross the Java Sea and started their tour on the island with its first stop in Surabaya where they played against THOR and an Oost Java Chineesche XI selection. They won both matches 5-1 and 4-1 respectively. They took a trip to Tegal and won another match against VTO XI selection 3-1. After that, they visited Semarang where they survived a highly-competitive match against the Midden Java XI selection 3-2.

By June 1, 1935, the team headed to Solo where they played against local clubs, winning close to a Voetbal Bond Solo (VBS) XI selection 2-1 and drawing against the Vorstenlanden XI selection 1-1. By the time they played in Yogyakarta, they got a big win against Voetbal Bond Djokja en Omstreken (VBDO) XI with a 4-1 scoreline.

They met a rude awakening when they got clobbered by the Surabaya squad HBS with 1-4 thumping in return. At Malang, they were held to a high-scoring draw by the Voetbalbond Malang en Omstreken (VMO) XI selection 3-3 while winning big against the NIVB XI selection 4-2.

The last leg was a return trip to Makassar where they survived a 0-1 deficit before forcing a 2-2 draw against an inspired MVB XI squad.

In the end, the Manila XI compiled a 7W-3L-2D record during its 1935 Tour.


The beautiful game is a global language that linked both countries. By the time the tour was over, the NIVB imploded with rival leagues established. Although the Dutch East Indies later went on to play in France, the successor Indonesian team never managed to qualify while the Philippines has slowly emerged as a top footballing country in the region despite the lack of quality domestic league to draw much of its talent.

After its historic win against the Dutch East Indies in 1934, the Philippines hasn't played against them until they played against Indonesia for the first time on May 30, 1958, at the Asian Games where it got an 0-4 drubbing. It took the Philippines a few decades later before it recorded its first win on November 25, 2014, where it won 4-0 at the AFF Suzuki Cup. Overall, Indonesia has a 19W-1L-4D record against the Philippines.

Beb Bakhuys Goal Van Persie is origineel van Beb Bakhuys
Born in Pekalongan, Beb Bakhuys is one of the first Indonesian-born players to play for the Oranje

Interestingly, the long debate that triggered constant banter and quarrel between Indonesian and Filipino football fans is the racial divide on football birthright. Sure, some of our Asian neighbors think that we don't have a real footballing heritage because we don't have a very prominent domestic league but they just don't know that football history runs deep in our country even during the early years of the sport. The racial argument lies in the fact that the Philippines relies on mixed-race and foreign-born players in order to compete but the truth of the matter lies deep inside history.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines have a lot of foreigners playing for the national team in the past with Dutch, Chinese, and Indos (mixed race) played for the Dutch East Indies while Spanish mestizos playing for the Philippines way before FIFA manage to prevent switching national teams. Some Dutch players playing in Indonesia have eventually gone on to play for the Oranje. Even the Philippines' greatest ever player Paulino Alcantara has played for Spain and eventually coached its national team. The naturalisisi thing is just something part of the global growth of the game where it started in both countries.

Parting Shot

Although football is well entrenched in the Indonesian sporting landscape while the Philippines is still struggling to establish it alongside fan-favorite basketball. The Azkals, as well as some football clubs (Ceres Negros FC, Kaya FC Iloilo, and Global FC), has managed to make a good account of themselves in the international scene. Both countries are somewhat on the opposite end of the spectrum with Indonesia as far as footballing success and development.

There is a rich history between the two countries that helped contribute to the growth of the sport to a certain degree. The Indonesian leagues of the past eventually developed due to the entry of foreign teams to play against local clubs. Perhaps, the growth of domestic club football may be possible if we learn something from the past. Why not Indonesian club teams regularly play against our own club teams as our domestic league develops just as how the various Stedenwedstrijden circuits were developed throughout Indonesia from the 1910s to the 1930s.



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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: Manila XI: The Forgotten Football Tours of Indonesia
Manila XI: The Forgotten Football Tours of Indonesia
Club football in the Philippines and Indonesia may have grown in recent years but it was in the early years when both countries played against each other.
Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger
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