imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

More Amusing History Facts

In My Eyes: by Edward B. Antonio
It is said when a dog bites a man, that is not amusing, although it might be a fact. But when a man bites a dog, that is something else.

Learning from biased textbooks with no new information to offer makes a reader yawn. History can be boring if the presentation lacks the twists and trivias to make one say “Uhu?”

Every pupil knows that Gregorio del Pilar or Heneral Goyo, the boy general, was killed in the Battle of Tirad Pass defending Emilio Aguinaldo’s flight to Palanan, Isabela. As schoolchildren when we were young, textbooks would depict him as a handsome and brave young general who fought the Americans astride his white horse and that he was killed by a sniper in the midst of action.

But according to Telesforo Carrasco, a Spaniard in Aguinaldo’s army and who claimed to be a participant in the Battle of Tirad Pass, Heneral Goyo was standing amid cogon grasses and was warned to keep his head down to avoid getting shot.

Carrasco said the general was not probably listening because he was shot.

Then, like vultures, the conquering American soldiers practically looted whatever the young general had: boots, trousers and everything except his underwears. They were taken as “souvenirs.”

Only 24 at the time of his death, Heneral Goyo apparently has a sweetheart in every town he passed. He was described by Rafael Palma as having agreeable and genial features, above average height, with clear, pinkish brown skin, somewhat brown eyes, straight nose, thin lips, slender body — he maybe considered a handsome fellow.

His good looks plus his military stance made women swoon at him.

He wrote 84 love letters, most of them perfumed but all were lost when American historian John Taylor withdrew them from the records with the comment: “No interest here—John Taylor.”

Another amusing research that will probably amaze any reader is this title which I came across in one of my readings: “Lapulapu Defeated Magellan Through Foreign Help.”

The source goes on like this: “Everyone knows about the Mactan ruler defeating the Spanish explorer despite the superior technology of the Europeans. Lost in history is the contribution of visiting Chinese, as recorded by Antonio Pigafetta, who chronicled Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world:

“When we reached land, [the natives] had formed into three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceedingly loud cries… The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly.

We were told that the natives learned from visiting merchants that our muskets were of no use over a cross-bow flight…”

The “visiting merchants” were of course Chinese, who had regularly frequented Mactan Island for trade long before Magellan and his crew ever saw the Philippines. It’s quite possible, coming from a society that had developed firearms over three hundred years earlier, the Chinese knew about the lack of accuracy and effectiveness of gunpowder-based weapons over long range ones.

The fact, anyway, won’t change, and we must be made to believe that Lapu-lapu killed Magellan, becoming our first hero to successfully ward off a Spanish invasion.

The amusingly Yamashita treasure is also of great controversy, fellas. Some researchers claim there really was no Yamashita treasure as taught in Philippine history books.

For over 50 years, treasure hunters from all over the world have scoured the Philippines to look for the fabled war loot hidden by Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. It’s said that the treasure was or is hidden in a series of underground tunnels somewhere in the country, that the American military officials found and used it to finance Cold War operations in the Asia Pacific, or whatever fanciful story cooked up by conspiracy theorists.

The reality is less exciting, as suggested by American military historian Alfred E. Nueman: “For if so much hidden gold was available to it, the United States would not have been so desperate to close the gold pool as its reserves were depleted. Nor would the U.S. government through the years since World War II been so insistent on preventing a free gold market from developing. Indeed, if gold was actually as common as the Yamashita stories maintain, the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and Bank of England already would have arranged for [prizes made of gold] to be inserted as prizes in Cracker Jack and children’s cereal boxes.”

Another amusing revelation is that the late President DiosdadoMacapagal had a predicament that one day, her daughter Gloria (Macapagal Arroyo) would rise to power in Philippine politics.

Diosdado Macapagal was known for bringing land reform to the Philippines, and for pursuing anti-graft and-corruption reforms that were rendered useless by a non-cooperative congress. His daughter Gloria, however, didn’t enjoy the same kind of reputation.

Interestingly, the senior Macapagal did predict that Gloria would also become president many decades later. In his autobiography, which was also a criticism of Marcos’ conversion of “our traditional democracy to a dictatorship in 1972,” Diosdado wrote about his daughter’s drive:

“Because of my love for my children, I have always wanted them to be proud of me, which made me strive harder in my career. Gloria in particular I hope to be a great role model for, from a young age she has shown an understanding of the intricacies of power, knowledge of how to bring about a change for the better through an exceptional and innate gift of influence.”

The rest is history, fellas.