A Great New More-Than-History Book You’ll Really Want To Read

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“It is a good read and

well written” – National Historical Commission of the Philippines review.

You won’t just want this on your bookshelf, you’ll want to read it, and you’ll want your friends to read it, and if you’re a history teacher you’ll want your students to read it!

Even historians tell us it will be a best seller. Don’t take our word for it, click on the cover image and read what historians are saying!

And we have a limited edition hardback, signed and numbered for your book collection.

That special edition is just 1,100 pesos, and that is a bargain.

Be informed, not fooled.

Reserve your personal copy of this special edition at Fool’s Gold.

now.

Check out this extract from the book, download and read for yourself.

Don’t miss your chance, reserve yours now!
at Fool’s Gold.

Balangiga Bells – The Return

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It is rare that the study of history makes a difference, but it did in the case of the Balangiga Bells. The town, and its bells, have been part of my life for a quarter of a century and the work that I and Rolando Borrinaga put into establishing the real history of what happened played a role in the education program launched by US Veterans to get the bells returned.

Although my role was modest it is, nevertheless, one I am quite proud of.

The bells were returned to Balangiga on 15 December 2018. Sadly, I could not be there to greet them but I did get to see and touch them for my birthday two weeks later.

It was, for me, a moving and emotional moment as you can see below.

Continue reading “Balangiga Bells – The Return”

Medieval Flat Earth Myth Busted, Part 2

Byzantine era coin showing a golbus

One comment on a Facebook thread in 2021 referred to “…Magellan who Lighted the Dark Medieval Flat mind of Ignorance & Superstition…”, a statement which shows that the myth that Magellan proved the Earth was round and that the common belief that in the ‘Dark Ages’ there was a common belief that the Earth was flat, is still in circulation.

Not only did Magellan ‘prove’ nothing of the sort, the Dark Ages of myth never existed and were an invention of 17th and 18th century writers. How did these myths arise?

It widely assumed, wrongly, that present day humans are more intelligent and resourceful than their ancestors of thousands of years ago. It is the sort of thinking that Erik Von Daniken depended upon for his popular books about aliens building the Egyptian pyramids, and which still produces fanciful History Channel series like Ancient Aliens.

Continue reading “Medieval Flat Earth Myth Busted, Part 2”

Medieval Flat Earth Myth Busted, Part 1

In 1523, Peter Martyr d’Anghiera wrote to Pope Adrian VI, the first non-Italian pope and the only one until the election of John Paul II in 1985, about the Magellan-Elcano Expedition, properly called the Armada de Malucco. He had been chaplain to the court of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, and was a historian of Spanish explorations, who became a member of Emperor Charles V’s Council of the Indies in 1518.

In his letter, he says: “Let us now try to explain how the Spaniards have completed the circuit of the globe, for the fact is difficult to believe. There, however, one proof: let Your Holiness have a terrestrial sphere marked with the different continents brought…” and proceeded to describe the journey of the Magellan expedition.

His surprise at the success of the journey had nothing to do with the shape of the Earth but the surmounting of the great odds against the success of the expedition.

There was no question that time that the Earth was considered a globe, and not a shred of evidence that any significant number of people believed to the contrary. The oldest terrestrial sphere in existence dates from 1492 and may have inspired the first expedition of Columbus that year. Maps of the period clearly show the lines of latitude and longitude, the latter curved to represent the spherical shape of the Earth.

Continue reading “Medieval Flat Earth Myth Busted, Part 1”

Did Magellan Survive the Battle of Mactan?

At the time of writing celebrations are underway to commemorate the first circumnavigation of the world by the Elcano-Magellan expedition. That remarkable, courageous endeavour was a success, it repaid its investors handsomely, laid the foundation for the Manila-Acapulco galleons which inaugurated truly global trade for the first time, linking Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia.

And, of course, the Spanish occupation of the archipelago later to be named after Felipe, prince of Asturias, later the King of Spain and, for a brief four year period King of England, co-ruling with Mary Tudor until her death in 1558.

It is also the 500th anniversary of the victory of Lapulapu, the chief of Mactan, against Magellan’s forces.

In the predominantly Catholic Philippines the event is also being celebrated as the planting of Christianity with the first Easter Sunday Mass on 31 March 1521, and thereby hangs a tale, or at least many questions. First instance, why First Easter Sunday Mass?

Continue reading “Did Magellan Survive the Battle of Mactan?”

The Mystery of Jabidah and a Secret Trial

Oplan Merdeka  was the failed attempt by the disgraced President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines to conduct a terrorist campaign on the state of Sabah in the 1960s. It was a project that would have pitched the Philippines not just against Malaysia, but also Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. It was a foolhardy effort and Malaysia and its allies had seen off an attempted Communist takeover in the Malayan Emergency and an invasion by Indonesia during the Konfrontazi.

The scheme was shattered by the massacre of Muslims on Corregidor who were recruited to terrorise Sabah, known as the Jabidah Massacre. While revisionists like the notorious Roberto D. Tiglao of the pro-Marcos Manila Times claim the whole thing to be a hoax, the evidence for it is solid.

There were brief flash reports on radio broadcasts but the story was suppressed early enough to keep it out of print media. The incident became common knowledge. The suppressed story broke through when Senator Ninoy Aquino, former journalist, gave a privilege speech in the Senate.

After the embarrassing incident on Corregidor, there was a secret court martial of those involved, blood-money was paid to the families of those who were executed, and the prosecutor in that case is still alive.

The video below has technical issues, for which I apologise, but it demolishes the claim that the massacre never happened.

Continue reading “The Mystery of Jabidah and a Secret Trial”

Tinikling: Mysterious Roots of the Invisible Dance

This is a work in progress

Not many people know that Tinikling1, the bamboo dance often considered the national dance of the Philippines, can be performed to the tune of Queen’s We Will Rock You2. Far fewer know its origins – in fact, nobody really seems to know, and what we do ‘know’ may be very wrong.

Which is the sort of challenge that sends the cold, wet noses of history bloodhounds quivering.

I had not thought much about Tinikling over my three decades in the Philippines, it was just there, part of the cultural background that surrounded me. You’ll find a link to a video below so I will not describe the dance itself here.

All I seemed to find in netsurfing was that it is a mimetic dance: The dancers imitate the movements of the Tikling Bird as it hops among rice stalks and evades bamboo traps set by farmers. It is variously said to have been introduced during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines in either Pampanga or Leyte3. Some of the more confusing versions have it as being both pre-Hispanic and of the Spanish era. The dance only seems to have surfaced during the American occupation of the Philippines as part of physical education.

The first mention of the dance I have found is in The Philippines progressive music series for the primary grades , compiled by Norberto Romualdez, et al. published in 1914, where it is creditted to Samar-Leyte and includes lyrics.

Continue reading “Tinikling: Mysterious Roots of the Invisible Dance”

Fake History and its Dangers – Must Listen

As those of us who study Philippine history know well, fake history, misinformation, and historical errors  are prevalent on social media and even in history textbooks. It is the underpinning of Fool’s Gold: Fake, Fallacy, and Fable in Philippine History.

The BBC has an excellent radio documentary on how these things happen, how they affect national identity, how they corrupt our knowledge of the past, and the dangers that it brings, including death threats to historians themselves.

Do listen to it.

When Greeks Flew Kites: Fake History

Miracle Cure For Covid-19 or Fabunan Fable? Part 1


No such report has been published by the Jakarta Post


Update: 6 December 2020: A press release issued by Universitas Gadjah Mada of Indonesia implicitly  developconfirms that social media reports of Fabunan Antiviral Injection already being deployed in Indonesia and already approved for clinical trials are false. The Indonesian university announce an MoU under which it will collaborate with a ‘philanthropic’ company, PT Filipinas Antiviral Indonesia, FAI, to develop ‘antiviral products. No approvals have been given for clinical trials and the deal appears to be a promise of funding by FAI for research. No mention is made of any Fabunan products. FAI is headed by Mariano Marcos, who has made a number of social media videos claiming that Fabunan Antiviral Injection is already being used indonesia. The press release is here.

Update 17 August 2020: Fabunan promoters have been pasting a photoshopped picture of the Front page of the Jakarta Post, Indonesia, to make it appear that the newspaper front-paged Fabunan FAI. The Jakarta Post has no such report.

Update 1 August 2020: Indonesia’s Health Ministry, through the Indonesian Embassy, says that Fabunan has received no approvals for any activity in the country. This explains the absence of Fabunan’s FAI from the country’s database of clinical trials. The Ministry was responding to fact-checking organisation Vera Files.

Update 26 July 2020: FAI promoters now claim that Indonesian authorities have approved a patent for 20 years, following a supposed deal with a government-owned pharmaceutical company. Neither is required to show that FAI works. There is, again, no independent confirmation of these claims. They assume that social media campaigns will force governments to overlook the total lack of clinical evidence to support the alleged benefits of FAI. Requirements for pharmaceuticals approval are here.

Update 22 July 2020: FAI promoters claim that FAI is responsible for recoveries in Indonesia but provide no evidence. Indonesia has just reported its second highest death toll. They also claim it is being sold by an Indonesian state pharmaceutical company to Ab u Dhabi. Again, no independent evidence for this claim.

Update 13 July 2020: The promised trials are a no-show. FAI promoters now say next week. Despite a legal requirement in Indonesia for all clinical trials to be registered, there is no registration for these alleged trials. Promoters now saw that there will be no publication of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in any peer-reviewed medical journal of note, the minimum requirement for validation and that it will rely entirely on social media marketing.

Update 8 July 2020: Fabunan promoters on social media claim that clinical trial results will be released on Saturday, 11 July 2020.
Update 6 July 2020: Social media posts claim that clinical trial results will be announced this week. However, no such clinical trial;s have been registered with the Indonesian Clinical Trial Registry, indeed, no clinical trials involving Covid-19 are being undertaken.

Update 3 July 2020: A promotional video for Fabunan Antiviral Injection has been banned from Youtube for breaching community standards.  The video claimed that a production deal for FAI was signed in Jakarta. There is no independent confirmation of any such deal, nor of the claimed clinical trials, supposedly involving 20 hospitals in Indonesia.

Update 21 June 2020: It is widely claimed on social media that Fabunan invented and patented Dexamethosone. This is false. It was invented in 1957 by Philip Showalter Hench and approved for medical use in 1961. When one claims that every viral disease that hits the headlines is cured by your brand of jollop, with no scientific evidence to back of any of those claims, you don’t get to claim you discovered a cure.


Update 20 June 2020: FAI promoters claim that the results of human trials will be announced in Indonesia at a press conference in Jakarta. No record of any such trials is recorded in any database. Nothing has been said about double-blind, placebo controlled , peer-reviewed trial publication.  Dubious claims continue to circulate on social media alone.

Update 17 June: Oxford University has announced successful trials using dexamethasone, an ingredient in FAI, in hospitalised patients suffering severe respiratory distress. There was no benefit in those not suffering respiratory distress, so it has no curative or preventative action as proposed by the Fabunans. It therefore indicates that FAI is ineffective.

Update: 13 June 2020: One of the promoters of FAI has indocated that any clinical trials in Indonesia will not be submitted for peer-review in a recognised medical journal and the results will only be announced by press release in the Indonesian press. If so, it will indicate that the trial results are less than reliable and will be rejected by the medical community.

Update 21 September 2020: Despite claims made on social media there is still no evidence that FAI has been approved, or undergoing clinical trial, or being legally used anywhere.

: 8 June 2020. Social media posts claim that the Indonesian health authorities had agreed to conduct clinical trials on Fabunan Antiviral Injection. The claims appear only from know promoters of FAI. Despite the importance of such a move, if true, it remains unconfirmed by medical news and information outlets, the WHO database of ongoing Covid-19 measures, Indonesian media, Philippine media or any reliable source. Given the track record of misinformation by FAI promoters (Such as claims that the Philippine FDA had approved FAI), we catalogue the claim as dubious.Clinical trials must be registered, yet no such trial can be found on clinical trial databases such as  centerwatch.com or clinicaltrials.gov.Update: 31 May. Malacanang corrects false information regarding FAI.

Important update: 27 May: The Fabunan Medical Clinic has closed.

Update, 24 May, 2020: The Philippine FDA has issued a cease-and-desist order, DoH is ‘working up a case’ against Dr Willie Fabunan. Here for more information.

New information is emerging on the Fabunan claims which are now being verified. Updates will be made as these are checked.

Corrections of factual errors are welcome in the comments section, which is moderated.

Right now, things are little different from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed up.to 18 million people, according to some estimates. Many of the rumoured ‘cures’ have re-emerged in the Covid-19 crisis. You’ll find some familiar claims in this recording.

Now, as then, fake news and fake cures have appeare throughout social media, presenting serious hazards, as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist reports.

In the US alone, thousands of fake products have been seized which claim to protect or cure Covid-19

The case of the Fabunan patented jollop raises a number of red-flags suggesting that a patented mixture of painkiller and a steroid for treating Covid-19, Fabunan Antiviral Injection, is, prehaps less than is claimed for it. It is not encouraging that development was led by an accupuncturist, Willie Fabunan.

Continue reading “Miracle Cure For Covid-19 or Fabunan Fable? Part 1”

How Hawaii’s Last Princess Found Karma At The Bottom Of Cavite Habour

The Barque Kaiulani by John Stobart

Maritime history nerds will know the name Kaiulani , an historically important vessel which met a sad end on the bottom of Cavite harbour in the 1960s. Not only is she part of maritime history, but the diplomatic history of the Philippines and the United States, too, involving a gift to the United States by the government of the Philippines which might have led to international friction between the two countries.

Kaiulani was the last steel-hulled square-rigged clipper built in the United States, launched in 1899. It was the only one of 17,000 such ships to be built in the country, known to have survived, or would have been had it ended its days. as intended, on Maine Street Avenue Dock in Washington DC. She symbolises the close of the age of sail for American merchant shipping and plans were made to make her the cornerstone of the American bicentennial in 1976.

The best-laid plans oft go astray, and so it was with Kaiulani.

Continue reading “How Hawaii’s Last Princess Found Karma At The Bottom Of Cavite Habour”