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.

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

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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”

Murder Mystery – Disappearing Bodies in Subic Bay

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Not every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery marks a body. In the case of Ensign Andrew Lee Muns, a body can never be recovered: it vanished into the air over the South China Sea some forty-five years ago. While his body can never be recovered, it took thirty years for his honour to be restored. For this cold case, justice was a close call.

Over 94 years, Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines became America’s largest military base outside the continental USA. Although the Philippines had become independent in 1946, the town of Olongapo which abutted the naval base remained U.S. territory for more than a decade afterwards, and although the base became nominally a Philippine military base in the early 1960s, it remained de facto US territory for as far as the eye could see until November 1992.

Continue reading “Murder Mystery – Disappearing Bodies in Subic Bay”

An Unsung Hero: The Last Spaniard To Surrender In Manila


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At 4am on the morning of 13 August 1898 Spain and the United States signed a Protocol of Peace, which brought Spanish-American War hostilities to an end. However, negotiations had been ongoing in Manila for the surrender of Manila to the US for several days which resulted in an agreement to put up a show battle, with the Spanish forces quickly surrendering and handing the city over.

One man alone held firmly to his post and refused to recognise the surrender: Veremundo Ruiz de Galaretta, a name almost lost to history.

I think he deserves his day of glory so let’s give it to him. 

American forces proceeded to take over the arms of government and all went well until, on 18 August, Major-General Greene marched into the Customs House and came face to face with Don Veremundo Ruíz de Galarreta, the elderly administrator of the Aduana. Greene passed on verbal orders from General Merritt to surrender his post.

Ruiz de Galaretta was a Basque from Estella in Navarre. He was a liberal politician who had played important roles in Spain which included being a member of the Spanish Cortes. He was relatively new to Manila, having been appointed by the Queen Regent Christina, to a sinecure position as head of the Manila Customs House.

Nobody had consulted him about surrendering his post to the Americans.ar. As far as he was concerned Spanish authorities in Manila had no power to surrender him or his office to the Americans because he had been appointed by the Queen.

It would have been a different matter if he’s been besieged, undermined and taken by assault, he told the Americans, but that had not happened and he was not going to give up unless faced by a superior force and then only after giving as much resistance as was appropriate to his means.

The Americans explained that he’d been overlooked it all the bustle of overcoming Spanish military forces and had they known his attitude they would have happily taken him at bayonet point. Despite their pleading to avoid further expensive military operations, Don Veremundo stood his ground like a Don Quixote without his Sancho Panza and wrote a protest to Merritt and Greene went away.

Ruiz de Galeretta then sought out the Spanish now-former Governor General, Jaudenes and told him of his plight. Jaudenes shrugged, he could do nothing, he was a prisoner ofwar, and did not want to hear about Ruiz de Galaretta’s problems.

Net he went to the Spanish head of the treasury who told him that if Jaudenes could do nothing then how could he?

Depressed, Ruiz de Galaretta returned to the Customs House.

Meanhile, Major General Greene, then commanding the US military in Manila, gave orders for the Deputy Provost Marshal to rustle up a squad of men and send them to the Aduana. Faced with this overwhelming superior armed force, Don Veremundo Ruíz de Galarreta’s honour was satisfied, he surrendered his post and retired, taking his entire staff with him, loudly protesting in the florid Spanish manner as he went.

It was not much of a victory for the Americans. They had no-one who could run the Customs House, despite someone having the foresight to send a customs tariff and regulations from Washington. They had to hire previous Spanish-era Customs workers at much higher salaries and it wasn’t until almost the end of 1898 that matters got remotely working. The ancient Spanish administrator of the Customs House had his revenge.

From then on, Don Veremundo Ruíz de Galarreta became invisible to history. Until now.

So, Here’s a toast to Don Veremundo, the last man standing in Manila.

The Historical Sins of Carlos Quirino

quirinostampThe following is an extract from Fool’s Gold 500: Fraud, Fallacy, Fable, Ferdinand Magellan, and Lapulapu, to be published in August 2021

Much of the myth and misinformation about Enrique can be laid at the door of eminent historian Carlos Quirino, a formidable figure in the Philippine historical community and National Artist for historical literature, honoured on a postal stamp,who single-handedly created the myth of Enrique speaking Cebuano and his imaginary origins in the Philippines.

The first time I engaged with Quirino’s lack of historicity was while researching the Battle of Balangiga of 28 September 1901. A claim that guerrilas were smuggled into the town of Balangiga under cover of a cockfight came from his pen and was consistently repeated in other historical works. In fact he had mistranslated the Waray word ‘Pintakasi’, which actually means communal work in Waray but which many Tagalogs use to mean a cockfight.

This error is relevant to his creation of a Cebuano Enrique de Malacca.

Continue reading “The Historical Sins of Carlos Quirino”

The Manufactured Bolinao Mass of Odoric of Pordenone

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Odoric of Pordenone

Being the site of the first Catholic First Mass in the Philippines is a matter of intense regional pride and a source of income from tourists and pilgrims. The discussion over whether it occurred in Leyte or Butuan has been heated over the years and continues to be so, with criminal libel charges being filed against, historians for the first time in Philippine history, who upheld the Limasawa location, despite the findings of the National Quincentennial Commission’s, NQC, Mojares panel report placing it, with finality, in Limasawa.

Apart from the claim made in a fraudulent document forged by Jose E. Marco in the early 20th century, one other claim has gained traction – An alleged 1324 Mass by Odoric of Porendone in Bolinao, Pangasinan which is recorded in a plaque on the wall of the Church of St. James The Great. The event is mentioned in the official history of the church.

This, in fact, is why, according to a footnote in the report, the Mojares Commission recommended referring to the Limasawa as the First Easter Sunday Mass, rather simply the First Mass. The Bolinao claim was not explored by the panel, which focussed on the evidence Butuan and Limasawa. Continue reading “The Manufactured Bolinao Mass of Odoric of Pordenone”

The Contribution of Jose E. Marco to the Quincentennial of the First Mass in the Philippines

Until 1934 there was no question that, setting aside a probable undocumented Mass onboard ship when the Armada de Malluco of Ferdinand Magellan and Sebastian Elcano anchored off Homohon Island on the pointy end of South East Samar on March 16, 1521, the first Catholic  Mass on Philippine soil took place at Mazaua on March 31 that year, Easter Sunday ship time. However, in the August, 1934 edition of Philippine Magazine, Percy A. Hill, an associated of eminent peopole like Otley-Beyer, Robert Fox, and James Robertson, revealed a simplified translation of a Spanish document found in an ancient chest in the archives of the Audencia in Manila in 1867 by a Gil Piamontes de Alazerna which would rewrite the history of the First Mass if validated.

Continue reading “The Contribution of Jose E. Marco to the Quincentennial of the First Mass in the Philippines”

Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, Part 4

image_editor_output_image1241528237-16197755686445126289483325178330.jpegFlat Earth references did crop up between the 17th and 19th centuries, mostly for comic effect rather than as commentary on medieval belief. Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1600s in a comedic book invents a fake quote from St Augustine saying that the Earth was a flat as a stove lid. His educated audience might have laughed not only because they knew the Earth to be a sphere but also that Augustine said nothing of the sort.

It was a symptom of growing distrust of the establishment, and of religion, especially Catholicism and, in the case of the United States, the vibrant rational commonsense of the New World against the fuddy-duddy stick-in-the-muds of the Old World. So it was that Thomas Jefferson claimed in 1784 that Gallileo was punished by the Catholic Church for promoting the idea of a spherical Earth, a false claim that Jefferson, as an educated man, would have known, but facts are of little importances in polemic.

By the late 19th century and into the late 20th century, and until today, textbook after scholarly textbook repeated what Jeffrey Burton Russell calls “The Flat Earth Error” that even the educated or a significant portion of them, believed the Earth was flat prior to the voyage of Columbus. Textbook writers tend not to do their own research but to copy and rephrase statements made in other textbooks and reference works.

Continue reading “Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, Part 4”

Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, Part 3

Isidorean map showing three known inhabited continents.

By the time the Vatican developed into the centre of the Catholic Church around 500CE with the building of St. Peter’s Basilica the Earth was known to be a sphere. At no time has the flat earth concept been a teaching of the Catholic, or the later Protestant faiths. Students going to any of the universities later established under the church were taught that the Earth was a globe.

Historian Jeffrey Burrell surveyed some 10,000 relevant documents relating to the shape of the Earth, of which only two defended a flat Earth and three were ambiguous.

There were two main outliers, the 3rd Century Christian apologist Lactantius, for whom anything smacking of Pagan beliefs was wrong and the spherical Earth was a pagan idea, and Comas Indicopleustes, a sixth century Byzantine monk whose work appears to have gone unread for two centuries. Neither were influential in the cosmography of the Catholic Church.

Lactantius was so far out on the periphery of church thought that when Copernicus wrote his treatise on heliocentricity – the Earth orbiting the Sun – he likened Lactantius’s views on the flat Earth to the belief that the Earth was the centre of the universe because he knew the views of Lactanius had been rejected and that to reject the heliocentric view in the face of the evidence he provided was just as irrational as Lactantius.

Continue reading “Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, Part 3”

Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, 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 “Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, Part 2”

Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, 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 “Why Magellan Did Not Prove The Earth Was Round, 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?”