Thursday, 29 October 2015

Traces of San Miguel, Tai Po

Perhaps not a very interesting post for most, but I find these little things quite fascinating - a throwback to a much simpler time. You may recall from my recent Tai Po Walking tour that I was able to spot faint traces of an old painted cigarette advertisement on the side of a building. Well, before the advent of modern printing technology (and even now I am guessing there must be an upper limit to what can be printed?) the only option for big advertisements was to get some guy up on some bamboo scaffolding to paint it by hand. It seems to be a lost art form these days so it's nice when old traces can be found.

This brings me onto a Govt photo that I stumbled across on social media a while back. It shows a view of an under construction Tai Po Centre on the left which places it in the early 1980s. On the right is the older part of Tai Po Market with a rather large squatter settlement and various buildings. The building with the painted advertisement is actually part of the Plover Cove resettlement estate, built in the mid-60's to rehouse displaced villagers from the Plover Cove reservoir project. I was curious to know if any of the advert could still be found, so I headed down there with my camera.

Source: Govt Archives
The picture quality isn't that clear, I know, but I've blown it up a little and had a little mess around with the clarity and think the below effort is about the best I can do.

Yes, as the title of the post suggests, it's an advert for San Miguel beer. You can see a bottle and glass, plus the San Miguel names and some Chinese writing. This is, of course, the Chinese name for the beer: 生力啤 (Sang Lik Be i.e. San Miguel Beer). Here are some photos of the very same wall (although it seems to have gained some additional windows in the intervening years).

The addition of the windows (the ones on the right hand side) seems to have put paid to most of the old advert but if you look closely enough there are, surprisingly, still some discernible remnants. In the picture below you can make out what is left of the San Miguel name. In the blown up picture above you can just make out some writing below it, but in the picture below it seems quite obvious that it used to say 'BEER'.


Next up is the bottle. The glass seems to have been eradicated by one of the windows but there is still the faint image of the beer bottle on the right hand side of the building. Can you see it? It's not that clear unless you zoom in, but you can also make out the curves of the label. I've added an edited version of the picture underneath with some faint lines drawn in to show the shape that can still be seen.

Faded beer bottle

I'd love to know if there are anymore still around, so please feel free to drop me a note and let me know.


  1. Hi Phil,

    I remember the old Cinemas back in the 1970's and earlier all have their own in-house artists for painting the promotional billboards base posters provided by the distributers.


    1. Hi Thomas, it seems to be a lost art, which is a big shame because some of the adverts were quite impressive. Cheers, Phil

  2. Hi Phil,

    Spotting this at Yuen Long earlier today ( It's on west bound Castle Peak Road a bit before reaching Tai Tong Road. What's left of the Po Jai Yuen paint-on advertisement.


    1. nice find Thomas. I feel these things are worthy of their own post. Just need to find some more (I know of a more basic one in Shek Kip Mei and also I saw one in San Po Kong recently).