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.
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.
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.