Marcos’s Roman Candle Superweapons

If the Pacific ocean is a bowling alley and typhoons the balls, the Philippines is where the ten pins would be. Up to 9 typhoons hit the Philippines each year with devastating consequences. Infant mortality increases by about 13 percent after a typhoon. Since 2001 more than 12.5 million tonnes of rice have been lost1. Ursula alone caused an estimated 3 billion pesos of damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the Philippines.

Whenever destructive typhoons hit the Philippines social media like Facebook sees the emergence of references to ‘anti-typhoon rockets’, often in the same breath as ‘super-weapons’ as an achievement of the Ferdinand Marcos martial law administration. No other subsequent President has followed that vision.

There is a good reason why they would not do so: anti-typhoon rockets do not, and cannot work. The project was based on a fallacy.

In the case of the Marcos rockets, they were not even tested.

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Willy Grayson – The Man Who Missed

For many years a plaque was placed at San Juan Bridge in Manila announcing that this was where the first shot of the Philippine-American War was fired on the evening of 4 February 1899. Further, in textbooks and in received popular history, the man who fired that shot, Private Willy Grayson of D Company, 1st Nebraska regiment, killed the first Filipino of the conflict, sometimes named as Anistacio Felix.

The few things correct in that scenario are the date and the name of the American soldier who fired the first shot. Anistacio Felix gave evidence at an investigation the next day initiated by Emilio Aguinaldo, President and Commander-In-Chief of the still-born Philippine Republic.

War is a violent, complex, confusing process. That further muddies the waters when we add the unreliability of memories, which are dynamic and creative, not fixed or permanent.

In addition to recall, there are the problems of accurate perception under poor conditions. At the time of the incident there no Moon, it would not rise until after midnight that evening6.

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