In an article in the Philippine newspaper Inquirer of 13 June 2012, Rodel Rodis wrote: “Dewey, under specific orders from Navy Undersecretary Theodore Roosevelt to not make any commitments to Philippine independence, dispatched an artillery colonel, L.M. Johnson, to represent him….”
Dewey did no such thing. Johnson’s identity has generated a number of fallacies, from being Dewey’s secretary to being a US Army colonel to being a retired US Army veteran.
Stanley Karnow’s In our image: America’s empire in the Philippines gets it wrong:
“Colonel L. M. Johnson, an obscure retired officer then in business in Shanghai, who had come to Manila to exhibit a newfangled contraption known as the cinematograph. Aguinaldo, eager to have an American on hand to symbolize U.S. recognition of his endeavor, had persuaded him to participate.”
As does James C. Bradford in his 2016 book America, Sea Power, and the World when he says “Johnson had no official role in the Philippines”
There there is the conspiracy theory silliness of Ritchie Quirino’s Pinoy Jazz Traditions:
The consistency of impossible, misleading and fraudulent documents offered in support of the Tallano fraud, and there can be no other word for it, seems to be the only consistent thing about them. While engaged in debating the problems of the entire Tallano story this photograph was shown by a Tallano proponent. Not only is the caption false but it does a real disservice to genuine Philippine history and two real figures important to the nation’s story.
Here is the photograph with the caption as provided:
And so we reach the final part of the examination of the document that lays at the heart of the Tallano claims, Oct 01-4. The remainder of the alleged translation continues to present evidence of an incompetent fraud dressed up with a klutzy version of 1960s pseudo-legalistic language, ignorance of Philippine history and the protocols in use at the time.
So far we have established two options: Either the Original, unseen, document is fraudulent, or the allegedly accurate translation is nothing of the sort and is functionally meaningless. Or both. OCT 01-4 would have been in both English and maybe Spanish. Neither version is available for study and verification. If they ever actually existed. The preamble, for instance, contains references to things that did not exist until half a century to a century after the date on which the document was signed.
A less patient person might have already thrown the document at the wall after the anachronisms and impossibilities of the preamble alone. But let us take the time to study the main body of the text: the areas of the Philippine archipelago claimed by the Tallanos. As we shall see there is one part of the archipelago to which, by omission, the document does not lay claim. It is a strange omission, but one entirely explicable.
Already, just from the preamble, OCT 01-4 shows firm evidence of fraud.
Before we get into the main body of OCT 01-4 it is perhaps worth a short detour to look at a name in that preamble: Princess Rowena Maria Elizabeth Overbeck McLeod of Austria. It is, to say the least, odd to find the names Overbeck and McLeod in a document dated 1764, even by the minimal standards of the Tallano canon.
As the song goes, in the Sound of Music, let us start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start. The very first line of the document indicates a very poor and inaccurate translation, despite assurances of the authenticity of the translation, or a document that is fraudulent and written by someone entirely unfamiliar with British history or the nomenclature in use at the time.
Or that Dawssonne Drake was ignorant of the correct terminology for the period. Certainly, Drake was born far away from Britain, in India, but he was an employee of the East Indian Company, under which auspices he governed Manila and it is unlikely that he would have made such a fluff as to refer, in the very first line of the document, to the ‘Royal Crown of England’.
First, in no formal document invoking any monarch, is the term Royal Crown used. It is simply ‘The Crown’. Since at least the Act of Union in 1707, the British monarch was, at that time, the king of England, Scotland and Wales. The term ‘Royal Crown of England’ is, therefore, a glaring anachronism not in use for several centuries before the dating of the document.
Sadly, it is not possible to assess the authenticity of the document central to the Tallano claim of ownership of the entire archipelago of the Philippines. It has never been submitted in court proceedings, there is no image of it in court filings and it has never been studied by historians or forensic document analysts. Although an addendum to the 1965 translation says it is authentic it is unclear what ‘authentic’ means in this case. It may mean that the translation entered into court is an authentic copy of what was entered into court, it may mean the original document upon which the translation is based is authentic. In other words, the certification is so ambiguous that it is meaningless.
Much of the Tallano claim to the whole of the archipelago depends upon a document called OCT 01-4 allegedly signed by Dawsonne Drake in 1764, witnessed by George III, issued under the authority of the (Spanish) Royal Audencia in Manila. If this document is fraudulent then all documents of the 18th and 19th century that cite it in support of the claim must also be fraudulent.
To date, the Tallanos have not presented a single document, original or transcribed, of any Spanish-era document in its original language. From a historical point of view, it is unsatisfactory to have to rely solely on allegedly translated documents.
The Tallano supposed translation of the 1764 document is the only evidence to be addressed.