Mushi-mushi, Halo-Halo To All That

Clarke’s, the first ice cream in Manila?

Language is a bit of a challenge trying to identify when ice cream and even halo-halo emerged. ‘Sorbetes‘ in Tagalog covers both frozen water/fruit juice confections and ice creams. In Spanish we have helado attached to chilled/iced products like quesos helado, mentioned in an 1875 Manila directory.

Aha, you may think: Cheese ice cream! But there is no cheese in quesos helados. A speciality of Madrid, these are variously coloured water-ice sorbets put into small shaped moulds with milk added. When frozen they look like little cheeses, hence the name.

Helado is also used for ice-cream, sorbete for sorbet, hielo for ice and sorbete de leche specifically for ice cream as well as Mantecado and helado Leche..

Upper-crust menus were often in French. Glace is the French for ice, creme glace is ice cream, and sorbet is sorbet, but, again glace can cover both sorbet and ice cream.

The same applies also in the English term ‘ices’.

A 1911 adverisement for La Campana. Note helados, sorbete and helado, also horchata.

A 1913 instruction to ice cream makers and sellers uses mantecado for ice cream, a term that does not seem to appear in 19th century Philippines.

Then there is garapinera. While often assumed to be an ice cream/sorbet maker even that may be unsafe. Online friend Zeidrick J Cudilla brought my attention to an 1866 Spanish-Visayan dictionary which mentions garapinyera as a box in which beverages are kept, but does not imply ice was used.

In Waray it refers generically to a container for water.


To add to the confusion, garapinera also refers to the insulated container vendors carried their product around in rather than the device it was made with.

You can watch how ice cream was made in Victorian times here:

So, as far as we know, the first unambiguous appearance of ice-cream was in 1902 during a visit by the USS Alert to the Philippines.

Continue reading “Mushi-mushi, Halo-Halo To All That”

Hot Times, Frosty Americans

William Henry Corbusier built the first American ice plant in the Philippines.

Although ice was available in Manila, cold storage was another matter. Posh houses, hotels and so on, could store vegetables, fruit and water in their ice boxes but unless you had a convenient cow in your yard, as the Tafts did, fresh milk was a luxury.

Vendors sold carabao milk which had been brought into Manila by train, kept in a store at ambient temperature overnight then put on the streets as late as 4pm. To say the least, it wasn’t in the best of condition by the time it was purchased, and any bacteria would be thriving well.

With no wholesale cold storage available various chemicals, including formaledhyde would be added.

No wonder canned milk was preferred by those who could afford it.

Americans, including 60,000 soldiers at any one time, demanded beef but it was often so putrid when imported from the US that even those who cooked it would run away and throw-up. Again, chemicals were used resulting in meat of varying degrees of inedibility.

Australia developed the first refrigerated ships and the Americans in the Philippines became the backbone of the Australian beef industry. But there was a need for somewhere cold to store it.

Another ice issue arose from efforts to fight infectious diseases through vaccination throughout the islands. Ice chests could keep vaccines fresh but ice was not available outside Manila, at least in the quantities needed.

Ice could be a matter of life and death.

Enter the all-but-forgotten American Civil War veteran William Henry Corbusier, the pioneer of American ice plants and cold storage in the Philippines.

Continue reading “Hot Times, Frosty Americans”

End Run

Here we are. The last decade of the 19th century and no confirmed sighting of ice cream nor the equipment to make it with, the garapinyera.

That gap may have much to do with the class structure of the Philippines at the time.

Who cared about the kitchen worker who made the ice cream? Much as no-one thought it important to gather the experiences of the common tao who bore the brunt of the Philippine revolution and the war of independence against the USA.

The comparison is certainly valid: Professional kitchens are as hierarchical as a military unit. A unit of kitchen workers, from dish-washer to Chef is known as a brigade. They do the work but are beneath being noticed in 19th century Manila.

Continue reading “End Run”

The Reel LM Johnson and Philippine Independence Part One

The elusive Colonel Johnson

Getting It Wrong

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:

Continue reading “The Reel LM Johnson and Philippine Independence Part One”

Tallano – A Momentary Diversion

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:

Continue reading “Tallano – A Momentary Diversion”

Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 11

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.

Let us look at this last section:

Continue reading “Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 11”

Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 9

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.

Of course, ‘Princess’ might merely have been her given name. While not unusual in the present-day Philippines it would have been very unusual in the 18th century with its concern with rank and privilege. It may have been a rank acquired when she, if she existed, married the claimant to the throne of the Philippines, but that is unlikely since the ‘of Austria’ indicated she was a princess of Austria. Continue reading “Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 9”

Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 8

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.

Continue reading “Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 8”

Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 7

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.

Continue reading “Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 7”

Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 4

Many, if not most people, think that the Spanish language first appeared in the Philippines with the arrival of Magellan on the Island of Cebu in the early 16th century. In fact the first known Spanish speaker in the islands was a slave called Pazeculan. Since the Filipinos of the time were keen on slave raiding and trading and there was a Spanish presence in South East Asia, including Spanish Muslims escaping from the Peninsula after the fall of Muslim rule with Reconquista just a few decades before Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines and the banning of Islam in Spain.

Of more relevance to our swim through history is the man he belonged to: Prince Aceh of Tondo, the man the Spanish thought ruled the whole of Luzon, until they got to Manila, long after the remains of the Magellan expedition seized Aceh’s boat off Brunei and held him to ransom.

Continue reading “Interrogating Tallano – Is the Philippines the richest country in the world? Part 4”