Five Inaccuracies Still Accepted as “Philippine History”

Some time ago I watched a local documentary that dramatized Ferdinand Magellan’s visit to Mactan Island in 1521. Most Filipinos are aware of the events here: Mactan’s chieftain Lapu-Lapu kills Magellan, and the rest of the natives drive the rest of the Spanish back to their boats. What irked me however was what the actor playing Lapu-Lapu said: “Wala na ang kalaban! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!” (“The enemies are no more! Long live the Philippines!”)

I cringed while watching, simply because the name “Philippines” didn’t come into existence until a few decades after Magellan’s death. Having that glaring inaccuracy in a documentary show only proves how historical knowledge isn’t really a serious concern for many Filipinos, especially those who claim to espouse “Pinoy Pride.”

Here are other common misconceptions that Filipinos need to revise.

1- “Alibata” was the national writing script before the Spaniards arrived.
The Popular Myth: Before the Spanish conquered the Philippines, Filipinos invented “Alibata” as a way to communicate amongst each other.

The Historical Evidence: First of all it’s not supposed to be called “Alibata;” the term was imported from Arabic in 1921 because no scholar back then had decided on what to accurately call the writing script. The more accepted term nowadays is “Baybayin.” Also, though it indeed is a pre-Hispanic script, there is no historical evidence to show that Baybayin was used outside of Central Luzon and the Visayas before the Spanish arrived and tweaked the script themselves. Furthermore, Baybayin couldn’t have been considered a “national script” because there was no “nation” to speak of back then; the Philippines (before it was named that way) were a collection of perhaps dozens of separate kingdoms and tribes that had little or no mutual sense of unity with each other.

If there ever was a “national script” that the natives used before the Spanish arrived, one need not look further than the Laguna Copperplate Inscription and the Butuan Ivory Seal, artifacts which predate the emergence of Baybayin by at least 600 years. They both use a writing script called “Old Kawi,” which scholars now purport to be the ancestor of Baybayin and various other pre-Hispanic writing scripts in the Philippines. The fact that it was used almost without variation by two separate kingdoms proves that it was more widespread than Baybayin ever was before Spain arrived.

2 – On March 16, 1521, the Philippines was discovered by Magellan.
The Popular Myth: Thanks in part to Yoyoy Villame’s catchy song, many Filipinos now assume that Ferdinand Magellan came to conquer the Philippines for Spain, and he was eventually killed by Lapu-Lapu because of that same premise.

The Historical Evidence: There is now evidence to show that Magellan wasn’t even the first European to come here; though it’s not really clear who was, natives who’ve had contact with Magellan’s crew claimed that they saw “other men like them,” hinting at Portuguese merchants who may have arrived before 1521.

Magellan himself wasn’t even Spanish: he was a Portuguese merchant-navigator hired by Spain to look for an alternative sea route to Asia, because the traditional Indian Ocean route was blocked by Portugal. As for his death in the Battle of Mactan, this was brought about only because he got involved with a petty squabble between Sugbu’s king Humabon and Mactan’s chief Lapu-Lapu (who by the way was Humabon’s subject). Magellan’s corpse was never recovered and returned to Humabon as ordered; one could only assume what Lapu-Lapu’s fate was for defying a king’s order, despite the supernatural myths surrounding Lapu-Lapu’s own demise.

And no, Lapu-Lapu did NOT shout “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

3 – The Philippines was a united country when it declared independence on June 12, 1898.
The Popular Myth: After a hard-fought revolution that started with Dr. Jose Rizal’s death in 1896, the Philippines united and shook off Spanish oppression to become an independent nation. That is, until the United States showed up.

The Historical Evidence: No other sovereign state recognized Philippine independence; what the world instead recognized was the Treaty of Paris, wherein Spain sold its ever-loyal Pacific gravy boat to the United States for $20 million. Representatives of the fledgling “Philippine Republic” were refused participation in the Treaty. As for the Kawit declaration itself, documents show that a certain “Colonel Johnson” was present to observe the proceedings. Some time afterwards, to give the impression that the Philippines was being “recognized” by the United States as independent, a mock naval battle was held in Manila Bay. Not knowing that this was all an act, Filipino generals wanted in on the action and began attacking Spanish fortifications, unknowingly paving the way for the United States to plant the Star-Spangled Banner on Philippine soil (just as what the script told them to do, of course).

The Philippines itself wasn’t even united in declaring “independence” in 1898. The Negros Republic also declared itself a sovereign state separate from the Kawit declaration, as well as the Zamboanga Republic, and no one even bothered to ask the tribes of the Cordilleras if they were to be part of the republic or not. Also, although history would eventually recognize Emilio Aguinaldo as the first Philippine president, such a claim couldn’t even be decided upon by the revolutionary government itself, leading to intrigue and assassinations worthy of any Spanish imperial court.

If there was any real “Independence Day” for Filipinos, it would be July 4, 1946; a date that really was recognized the world over. Filipinos could perhaps celebrate June 12 as “National Day,” but never as the date when self-determination was assured.

4- Agapito Flores invented the fluorescent lamp.
The Popular Myth: “Pinoy Pride” was at its finest when a Filipino scientist named Agapito Flores invented a lamp that we now casually leave on 24/7 despite a looming power crisis. His name is on the thing itself!

The Historical Evidence: Alexandre Becquerel, a French physicist, came up with the concept of lights emitted from glass tubes,  and therefore can still be righteously credited for inventing something that “fluoresces,” or emits light. The patent for a tried and tested fluorescent lamp was registered in 1901 by Peter Hewitt in the United States. Agapito Flores would have had a really large brain for that kind of thing, because he was only 4 years old when the US patent came into existence. To be clear, despite videos that still spread wrong information, there is no concrete evidence to prove that Agapito Flores invented anything.

Besides, doesn’t “Flores” mean “flowers” in Spanish?

5 – The 1986 EDSA Revolution was “bloodless.”
The Popular Myth: Despite the threat of tanks and air bombardment, the 1986 ouster of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was peaceful, and the intercession of the Virgin Mary made sure that no one was killed that week.

The Historical Evidence: This whole Marcos-Aquino EDSA revolt thing is a classic example of the adage that history is written by the victors. First of all, I often hear people mention about the “twenty years of Marcos’s iron-fisted dictatorship.” Undoubtedly there were many horrible things that happened during the years of Martial Law, but let’s also take into consideration that Marcos was elected by legitimate popular vote in 1965 and again in 1969. Even after Martial Law was declared in 1972, it didn’t last all the way until 1986: Proclamation 1081 was lifted in 1981, just before Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines for the first time.

And the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino II? People still claim that Marcos ordered it. If so, then why is it that after two generations of Aquinos and an EDSA military rebel leader ascending into full presidential terms (for a total of 18 years, excluding the 12 total years of the Estrada and Arroyo terms), no one can still come up with evidence for such?

As for the events on EDSA itself, sure, there was no one who died during the mass organization, but you can’t call any revolution “peaceful” if you have tear gas blowing in your face. Furthermore, having to say that the 1986 coup against President Marcos was “without any deaths” may have to be called into question. Part of the chronology of EDSA shows that at 11:30 pm on February 25, when the looting of Malacanan Palace began in earnest after the Marcoses fled, “an unidentified student from Philippine Marine Institute was reported killed inside the [Administration] building.” This event perhaps would lead Gen. Fidel Ramos to eventually say “We really did not expect to achieve our objectives in such a short period and almost without bloodshed.” This could perhaps imply that, after the main antagonists had exited, the student was killed by the good guys.

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Post Author: MidwayHaven

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100 Comments on "Five Inaccuracies Still Accepted as “Philippine History”"

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Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

Part of the reason they keep the history as it is out convenience. Huge outrages happen when people realize they are wrong.

On an interesting note, in Philippine history books, Magellan was slain by Lapu-Lapu.

While in US history books, Magellan died by disease.

So… contradicting sources right there. On a miscellaneous note, the Filipinos outright refuse to return Magellan to his homeland in Portugal after repeated requests. We’re keeping his corpse as if it were a prize of sorts.

Noel
Guest

My history teacher in college once said that the Americans chose Rizal as our National Hero over Bonifacio because they want a ‘peaceful revolutionary’ rather than a violent one, for Filipinos to emulate. They are afraid that the latter could spark rebellion against the occupying state.

This premise could also be the very reason US archives record Magellan died by illness rather than being killed. Unless simply, they don’t want to ‘credit’ Lapu-lapu for such act.

nobody
Guest

The Americans never chose our national hero, it was the Filipinos of that time chose Rizal as our national hero. Those who said the former were anti-Americans.

Gilson
Guest

i read from a british encyclopedia(paedia) confirming Magellan was killed by natives. Some muslims even here in the middle east aknowledge this fact, his name is actually Khalifa or something… Just search in youtube.

nobody
Guest

its Kalipulako.

Geline
Guest

This is true. But he was popularly known as “Lapu-Lapu” – Magellan couldn’t pronounce “Kalipulako” and called him “Lapu-Lapu” instead 🙂

Gilson
Guest

Coolness. Thanks for the info. The Arabs who were explaining this part of Philippine history were muslims and the closest translation of his name would be Khalifa Lapu. Khalifa like the name of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai. You can watch their version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt5SoO5stRk

Vicente Calibo de Jesus
Guest
Vicente Calibo de Jesus

Antonio Pigafetta, chronicler of the Magellan expedition, is the only one who ever wrote the name of the Mactan chieftain. His name comes out as CILAPULAPU.

Jose Rizal, in his notation on Morga, assumed CI was an article and renamed him “si Lapulapu.”

andrew
Guest

amizing 🙂

shooter
Guest

The cartoon Animaniacs did a segment about Magellan and they said he went to the Philippine Islands and killed by a spear.

That said totally agree on all points by this post. Specifically the real Independence Day.

As for the fluorescent lamp hasn’t this been turned into an Urban Legend already? I don’t recall anyone who still thinks a Filipino scientist invented the fluorescent lamp.

Michael
Guest

Maybe Magellans’ body was chopped up and fed to the fish

rather than admit that there is no body to return, what other way to lie by claiming we will not return it ?

Logic, my friend !!!

ChinoF
Member

Mythbusting! My favorite topic. Good one, Midwayhaven.

MidwayHaven
Guest

Thank you. It was partly in response to that meme on the GRP Community Facebook page about Spanish conquistadors burning aborigines on the stake.

nagtatanong_lang
Guest

this is one of those things where you stop and say…hmmm..i didn’t know that..thanks for the info

Diet
Guest

ang sad mo naman “your not afraid to speak of your mind” ka pa! Sana nilagay mo totoong pangalan mo para naman ma “quote” ka ng tama sa mga sinabi mo. Isa kang mitiko din tsk, tsk, tsk.

domo
Guest

And what will you gonna do when he reveals his real name? Kill him? Obvious failipino is indeed obvious.

bolshoi8
Guest

Give the man a mask and he will reveal the truth…

Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

Problem with Filipinos are… they like to attack the messenger and not really the problem. So anonymity is important.

Zenki
Guest

Tanga pala nito eh, ang sabi nya;
“I am no longer afraid to speak my mind.”
hindi naman, “I am no longer afraid to show my real name, so that they can hunt me down and shut my mouth”.
Kung gusto mo syang i-quote, lagay mo MidwayHaven, matik na yun alam na nyang siya pinatutungkulan mo. May pa “tsk tsk tsk” ka pa, yabang mo!
Pasensyus..!!
Nagpapaliwanag lang!! ^_^

Vic
Guest

Great points to share and an excellent display of punditry! My only critique: you should be citing “the historical evidence.” Otherwise, you will be accused of baseless accusations OR plagiarism.

Willyn
Member

I think he/she did. The read highlights are actually links to sources of the article. Try clicking it.

767Toro007Hyden99
Guest

Victors write histories. Many inacuries are written in History books…to make the victors look good in future generations.

The EDSA revolution was not a revolution…it was a coup d’ etat by the Feudal Oligarchs, lead by the : Aquinos, Ramos, Enrile, etc…

007Toro0066Hyden
Guest

If Nazi Germany would had been victorious in World War II. Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, would had been the greatest man on this Planet Earth.

If Imperial Japan would had been victorious , also in World War II. Filipinos would be “bowing” to the Japanese Emperor. Benigno Aquino, Sr. , the collaborator of the Japanese Imperial Army, would be revered as the “greatest Filipino”…

ToroHyden
Guest

….many inaccuracies are written in history books….

Michael
Guest

there is a difference between inaccuracy and rewriting history

Like how the past misdeeds of Marcos is being rebranded as if he did all for the good of the nation !

And it is beyond belief when the common illiterate man and educated alike believe such rewritten history !

Colorado Luvial
Guest

rewriting history is good if the victors who wrote it wanted to be read as the great saviors, but obviously fake ones. and it has to be rewritten with the truth. The truth you want to shove down our throats is a lie. We are no longer stupid to believe that your myth is history. Admit it, you lost. This is the dawning of a new generation who will never be brainwashed again by the greedy yellows!

d_forsaken
Guest

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.

Geline
Guest

Very reason why Filipinos are culturally damaged – we don’t know our true history thus don’t know our (supposed) identity.

andrew
Guest

halo-halo kasi ang culture dito sa pinas. sabi nga ng mga banyaga may identity crisis ang nga tao dito. totoo naman eh.

i traced my roots as a tagalog and it turned out that i have a king. si Haring Matanda ng Katagalugan, in Kingdom of Maynilad. our soldiers are called “maharlika” and the nobles are called “maginoo”. can you imagine that a monarchy system in National Capital Region? something that i’m proud of. i’m a tagalog, luzonian. i’m half-bisaya also. so i know my identity sa mundong ito.

Ryan
Guest

I know who kill benigno aquino… He himself ordered the kill. . He killed himself, if you watch the interview inside the plane, he knew that he was going to die. He told the reporter that when i set foot in philippine soil , i will die

stan
Guest

i personaly think it was the malaysians… ninoy was already a malaysian citizen when he returned to phil… ninoy knew his death will spark a revolution and his health was already deteriorating that time due to the hungry strike he inflicted to himself… malaysians needed an ally president…bcz marcos was planning to get sabah back… hence i wont be surprised if malaysian money was also involved on ousting erap, erap ordered all out war on malaysian funded abusayaf…

Anthony Y Pagaduan
Guest

You are right at all points. Malaysia is behind the deterioration in Mindanao. We failed the claim in Sabah now we are giving BBLto them in silver platter.Erap ousting is Tabako’s work. Any way, it is better to kick out Erap. We do not want drunkard president that makes Malacanang a nightclub and mini casino during his short stint.

Kyle
Guest

Nope. He knew that there is a possibility that he would die. He learned it from his Greek friend before going back to the country. There are people saying that Danding Conjangco was the mastermind.

Ruth
Guest
Which could be true. I think Danding would dispose any of his relatives who he thinks will not serve his purpose anymore. He participated the Anti-Noynoy protests beofre the 29th anniversary of EDSA. If he really was on his nephew’s side, he would not dare do that. Having Danding enter politics is also dangerous, he’s not someone you should trust even though he’s in the anti-Noynoy side. The fact that he may have killed Ninoy and now the fact that he wants Noynoy out of the presidency and the fact that he’s an ogliarch is already enough to make him… Read more »
Xibalba
Guest

It ain’t Danding. It’s the other uncle. A very reliable source told my Dad about it. 😉

marius
Guest
Interesting article, but your last point is a bit off. The reason the EDSA revolution was bloodless is because it wasn’t actually a revolution. It was simply an ordinary succession, as happens in any feudal society, with power passed on to another bunch of sock-puppets fronting the same old power structure that’s been there for many decades. Marcos had made his loot, so ‘game over’ was really no big deal. The same reason, I suggest, underlies the lack of conclusive investigations re. Aquino’s murder. Since a whole bunch of Marcos-era faces are still in power (most notably Juan Ponce Enrile)… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest

If you notice closely, I never mentioned the world “revolution” in #5. 🙂

MidwayHaven
Guest

Or, to be more accurate, I never mentioned EDSA was a “revolution” to begin with. It was a coup and a revolt, and no revolutions are ever peaceful.

marius
Guest

Yes, “coup” is probably more accurate, but I was really just pointing out it was a classic case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. There was no transfer of power, so no need to squabble. Just an orderly re-shuffling of the noses in the trough.

Apo ni sugod
Guest

A sniper was killed at the tower of
Channel 4.
But we forget that the edsa revolution was the culmination of a series of silent rebellions as well rallies and assassinations. It was a volcano waiting to erupt, as in the words of Marcos himself. Ed Jopson, sta romana, Javier, others were executed.Mendiola massacre was a wake up call.That was technically the start. Ninoys assassination was the spark.Edsa
itself was the final overthrow.

MidwayHaven
Guest

I would have also written about the death of the PTV-4 sniper during the firefight there, but I could not find sources for it. There was one coffee table book which mentions it, but I forgot its title.

Again, proof that EDSA wasn’t as “bloodless” as it was claimed to be.

MidwayHaven
Guest

Here’s a mention of the sniper’s death, but it’s on the (ugh) Black and White Movement’s blog:

“I have memories of hearing about the killing of the sniper, that he may have killed some people, while we sat around a grassy area not far from Club Filipino. I was saddened by that. The reality was that it wasn’t entirely a bloodless revolution.”

http://blacknwhitemovement.blogspot.com/2006/02/squandered-gift-part-4.html

Apo ni sugod
Guest

When the last of the old politicians die: ramos, enrile, imelda, et al.., the truth will emerge. And all to blame are dead.

Presidente Emilio
Guest

I’m a staunch believer of the saying, “History is written by the victors.”

That’s why I always strive to know all sides of a certain story so I could come up with my own conclusion. My understanding might still be wrong at times but, hey, at least I tried.

SnareYellow
Guest

The Battle at Manila Bay is anything but a mock battle. The Spanish casualties there were more than seventy. With several hundred wounded. It is the land battle in the Manila environs which is staged.

Here are some of the recent photos found about the naval engagement:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-navy-reveals-dozens-rare-spanish-american-war-photographs-n100686

MG Phalanx
Guest

Well, I love history. And it is just so frustrating to know that there are parts of our history that are used to deceive people. Your inputs (MidwayHaven) are very interesting. This is better than reading one sided books written by money makers. On the other hand, I believe we are entitled to know the other side of the story even though most of the times the other side of the story is so disgusting and devastating – but eye opening and truth seeking.

Sick Amore
Guest

The disappointing facts and brutal truths you can read on the news and expensive hardbound.

convair
Guest
1969 election is one of the dirtiest elections in the Phils. Like for example the coffers of the government was used by the incumbent to pay for the campaign and vote buying, so Marcos’ winning the presidency was kind of a sham. “We were outgunned, out-gooned, and outgold” complained losing candidate Sergio Osmena Jr. Before and after Martial Law, Marcos’ way of ruling was kind of iron fisted, like the Lapiang Maya massacre in Taft Ave. in 1967 or the bloody deaths of 10 protesters in Mendiola in 1984 (not 1987 Mendiola Massacre). – After Marcos fled in People Power,… Read more »
Godfrey
Guest
“The Popular Myth: Despite the threat of tanks and air bombardment, the 1986 ouster of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was peaceful, and the intercession of the Virgin Mary made sure that no one was killed that week.” “sure, there was no one who died during the mass organization, but you can’t call any revolution “peaceful” if you have tear gas blowing in your face.” So it was peaceful as it could get… I don’t see how that was a myth. I was there in EDSA from the very beginning at the EDSA Camp Aguinaldo gate to the moment the Airforce defected… Read more »
Dos Equis
Guest

Yes, SO….

Water is not wet…….the sky is not blue (if it was you would not be able to see your hand in front of your face,duh !)………

all this and a few peso’s will get you on the Manila metro, SO WHAT?

JRIgnacio
Guest
EDSA 1 maybe the first “colored revolution” in the world! Try to look what happened to Ukraine a year ago and whats happening in Russia today? The same script and tacttics are being played! It was cheaper than financing a military coup! The Americans/ Enrile wanted Marcos out! There were a lot of false flags and destabilization plots back then! When Cory Aquino came into power after the whole mess the Americans / Enrile didnt stop! Thus we had coup after coup during Cory’s term! Then FVR became president started privatizing most GOCC’s and selling Gov’t assets! Erap came to… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest

The first recognized “color revolution” was in Portugal (1974):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnation_Revolution

IXVII
Guest

Imperialists? Why is that so?

bugsbunnyv
Guest

How about the myth that martial law was declared on sep 21, 1972? In reality it was sep 23. Marcos was said to be superstitious, one believing the magical powers of the number 7. 21 is divisible by 7. So, with a stroke of a pen he made the change with kit tatad’s help. So successful was the myth that it’s probably an ex. of effective Marcos propaganda.

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