Of course there aren’t just five; history, after all, is just a timeline perceived by those who know how to write it. What’s wrong about all of this is that people do still accept inaccuracies as fact, and quite a few are too rabidly apologetic about them. Consider this gloriously graphic example of a meme that went around Teh Intarnets recently:
You as a reader can freely discuss about the merits of religion or the lack thereof on this Facebook page that displays the meme, but the fact of the matter is STAKE BURNING BY THE IMPERIAL SPANIARDS IN THE PHILIPPINES NEVER HAPPENED. Besides, that’s not even the Philippines they’re showing in that picture: although Spanish atrocities against indigenous peoples in Central America do exist, there are virtually no existing documents (or even indigenous oral histories) of Spanish atrocities in the islands they would soon name the Philippines, considering that the Spanish themselves were meticulous record-keepers. And yet, based on discussions I’ve been in regarding the meme, some people do still regard the scene depicted as fact, and a “Spanish cover up” was made to delete any and all references to some sort of cultural genocide that, in reality, never happened.
In any case, consider this as a sequel to my previous article.
1 – The Code of Kalantiaw is the first true legal code of the country.
The Popular Myth: Some time in 1433, ten exiled kings from Borneo landed on Panay Island, and one of them created a series of laws worthy of Hammurabi.
The Historical Evidence: Except that it’s all lies. To be more specific, a bunch of early 20th century lies. I could forgive history books today for emphasizing that it really is a hoax, though I still cringe at the thought of some people who think that we should use it as a practical legal code.
2 – “Sa Aking Mga Kabata” was Jose Rizal’s first true masterpiece.
The Popular Myth: When he was only 8 years old (or younger, as some websites claim), Jose Rizal supposedly wrote a poem that expressed his nationalism, which more than a hundred years later would inspire a patriotic hymn and a leggy Tekken character.
The Historical Evidence: Except that it’s all lies as well. Wow, what in the world is up with Filipinos and history masquerading as bullcrap? Despite what government-endorsed websites may tell you, the poem emerged only after Rizal’s death, and only through people who “claimed” to know that he wrote it.
Additionally, Rizal himself wrote that he had not heard of the word “kalayaan” (Tagalog for “freedom”) until he was 21 years old. So why would he have supposedly written the word TWICE on a poem he made during an age when kids at that time couldn’t even write Tagalog properly?
3 – Baguio has been the Philippines’ “Summer Capital” for more than a century now.
The Popular Myth: When the Americans founded Baguio, they declared it a “summer capital” where people should come to enjoy the cold climate.
The Historical Evidence: Baguio is that shiny City in the Cordilleras that Filipinos love to destroy, especially when the hot summer months come along. This supposedly gave it the tag “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” because the climate here remains a steady 15-25 degrees Centigrade from February to May each year, and the tag somehow stuck. The more accurate story is that beginning in 1903, the government during the American period (labeled as the Philippine Commission) would come up here in the summer (because American politicians would just die in the Manila heat) to hold office. For some reason, the current Philippine Supreme Court still carries this tradition today.
However, according to Robert Reed in “City of Pines” (A-Seven Publishing, 1999, pp.131-133), the Philippine Commission decidedly abandoned this whole newfangled idea of hauling the entire mechanism of governing the islands back and forth along Benguet Road to sit in a mountain city for only two months a year, and Baguio officially lost the label of “Summer Capital” as early as 1913. In short, Baguio only had the “Summer Capital” status for only ten years (1903-1913). Furthermore, a Presidential Decree in 1976 makes no mention of any alternative capital in any official capacity whatsoever, thereby ditching the whole “Summer Capital” idea for any Philippine city once and for all. Whatever “Summer Capital” tag Baguio has left today is unofficial, and is basically just bait-and-switch fluff for tourists to exploit.
4 – Filipinos invented a shit-ton of popular devices.
The Popular Myth: Because Filipinos are so ingenious and creative, Filipinos were behind some of the most widely-recognized inventions. Pinoy Pride forever!
The Historical Evidence: If you’ve read my previous list, you’ll already know that the fluorescent bulb was invented by someone who definitely was not Filipino. Since that last posting, I’ve had feedback from various other people who’ve revealed more false claims made by so-called “Pinoy inventors.” This other blog lists the most outlandish claims, but as a rundown:
There are of course genuine Filipino inventors out there who have made simple yet impressive contributions on how to make other people’s lives easier. The main point of this discourse is of course to apply some healthy skepticism when certain claims sound too good to be true.
5 – The government recovered a golden Buddha statue from treasure hunters in the early 1970’s.
The Popular Myth: Facing defeat shortly before the end of the Second World War, General Tomoyuki Yamashita turned the Philippine wilds into his own tropical Swiss Bank, hiding tons of gold and other precious metals for treasure hunters to recover and for President Marcos to confiscate afterwards. Because he was greedy. And evil.
The Historical Evidence: The legend of the Golden Buddha is a story most likely worthy of becoming the Philippines’ own Roswell Incident, complete with a government cover-up, a military conspiracy, and an enlightened being at the center of it all. Heck, the whole thing even spawned a 1980’s action movie and, of all things, a romantic ballad.
Some time during the 2015 Easter weekend in Baguio, I managed to photograph part of a tarp being displayed on a school bus plying the Session Road route:
Apparently, some friends and/or relatives of Roger Roxas, the statue’s “founder” [sic], have put up a museum somewhere in Baguio to support his claims. Unfortunately, despite claims that United States courts imply it exists, not even his closest family members believe this whole thing. In fact, the judge who ruled in favor of Roxas was dismissed from his job in 2011 specifically because he believed (without evidence) that the golden Buddha existed.
It’s easy for commentators on Reddit to say that I’m doing nothing but putting out “Aquino-bashing propaganda,” just as it’s easy for me to say that they’re most likely SJW neckbeards. But yes, based on conjecture alone, it’s easy to dismiss this whole “Marcos possesses the Golden Buddha” thing as nothing more than speculation. A brass Buddha does exist, the one more likely found by Roxas during his hunting days, which is now in the custody of Baguio’s local judicial court. To make it clear, ask yourselves these two questions:
It would be logical for a nation (or at least a monastery somewhere) that lost one of its most valuable relics to want to get its gleaming cash cow back, yet none have come forward for it. After all, the Philippine government is so giddy about getting back the Balangiga Bells from the United States; you’d think that the Philippines would make the Buddha proud and set an example in generosity like the good Christian nation it supposedly is.
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But enough about me.