10 Facts About the Philippines 
You Probably Didn’t Know!

1. Quezon City was the national capital of the Philippines for almost three decades.

President Quezon dreamt of a city that would be the future capital of the Philippines. Manila, according to his military advisers, was vulnerable to naval attacks because it was near a bay, and Manila was getting crowded. In 1938, President Quezon sought the help of the American architect and planner, William E. Parsons, who selected the Diliman estate as the site of the new city. President Quezon then bought a 15.29 km² parcel of land from the Diliman estate owned by the Tuazon family.

In 1948, President Manuel L. Quezon declared Quezon City as the capital city of the Philippines until President Ferdinand Marcos returned the title to the City of Manila in 1976 through Presidential Decree No. 940. The City of Manila has been Philippine’s captal city since 1595.

(Photo courtesy of The Philippine Star)

2. Jones Bridge was called “Banzai Bridge” during the Japanese Occupation.

Built in 1701 as Puente de España, it was rebuilt by the Americans in 1916 and was named after Atkinson Jones [insert data]. During the Japanese occupation, the Jones Bridge was christened by Chairman Jorge Vargas into “Banzai Bridge”. Banzai literally translates to English as “may you live ten thousand years”. The renaming of the Jones Bridge into Banzai bridge was part of the Japanese propaganda to Asianism and eliminate Western influence.

3. There was a Statue of Liberty in Intramuros.

The Statue of Liberty, or Lady Liberty, is a famous landmark in New York, U.S.A. It was a gift of France to the United States of America as a symbol of their alliance and friendship.

In Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros, Manila, there used to stand an eight-foot bronze replica of Lady Liberty. It was given to the Philippines by the United States of America. It, however, disappeared in the early 1970s.

4. President Marcos imprisoned the Filipino who “dicovered” the Spratlys.

In between the period of 1947 to mid-1950s, Tomas Cloma’s fishing vessels and its crew made a number of visit to the now known Spratly Group of Islands in search of better fishing grounds. Tomas Cloma enviosioned of building an ice pland and cannery in the largest island in the group. The group of islands back then was referred to as Paracels, which lie halfway between the Chinese island of Hainan and the coast of Vietnam.

Later, Cloma made a “Proclamation to the whole world” that a new state called  “The Free Territory of Freedomland” was created. He asserted sovereignty over the area although no country formally recognized his claims. In 1974 Marcos threw Cloma in a Camp Crame cell, on grounds of “usurpation of authority” (for being referred to as “Admiral”). Several months later, he was released from after turning over all claims to the islands for one peso under a ‘Deed of Assignment and waiver of Rights” the Marcos administration.

Tomas Cloma is the founder of the Philippine Maritime Institute and is considered the Father of Philippine Maritime Education.

5. Davao was coined as “Davao-kuo” because of its large Japanesse population.

Before the Second World War, especially in the late 1930s, more than half of the Japanese residents in Southeast Asia lived in the Philippines. Notable is the Japanese immigrant community in Davao which cultivated abaca. With their large population, owning almost 75% of the wealth of Davao, skeptical Manilans dubbed Davao as “Davao-kuo”. It was a reference to the process by which the Japanese had moved to Manchuria after defeating Russia, and named it Manchukuo.

Caption: Ohta Kyozaburo Monument erected in 1926 in Bago Oshiro, Calinan District, Davao City in honor of Ohta Kyozaburo, a Japanese hemp king, who, shortly after the turn of the 20th century, migrated to Davao City and cultivated vast lands around the shores of Davao Gulf into Abacá and coconut plantations. He is said to have started the Davao Japanese colony, and is considered “Father of Davao Development”.

(Photo courtesy of the National Historical Commision of the Philippines)

(Photo courtesy of www.durianburgdavao.wordpress.com)

6. Tomas Claudio, a Filipino pensionado, participated in World War I in France. For a time, he was the most  celebrated Filipino hero, just second to Jose Rizal.

Tomas Mateo Claudio is a native of Morong, Rizal. He enlisted in the United States Army during the World War I. He was rejected twice but was finally enlisted in November of 1917 and became a member of the 41st Infantry Division. His destination was France.

Claudio was killed by enemy fire on June 29, 1918 in Château-Thierry, France. He became a celebrated hero in the country that an educational institution is named after him, the Tomas Claudio Memorial College in Morong, Rizal.

7. An African American fought alongside Filipinos in the Philippine-American War.

During the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), the United States sent over seven thousand black soldiers to fight against Filipino ‘insurgents’ – the 24th Colored Regiment. One of them was Corporal David Fagen, a Philippine hero with foreign blood.

Corporal Fagen had a conflict with his superiors, and he observed the racism shown by Americans towards Filipinos. These pushed Fagen to abandon his group in 1899 and join the Philippine Army instead. General Jose Alejandrino of the Philippine Army promoted David Fagen to captain. It was Captain Fagen who seized US army gun cargoes in the Rio Grande de la Pampanga. Captain Fagen escaped into the mountains of Nueva Ecija with his Filipina wife and a Filipino soldier, after General Alejandrino surrendered to the US army.

8. The flag of the Philippines is the only flag in the world where colors can be reversed.

The Philippine flag is the symbol of the Philippine nation-state and its people. It is represented by three colors – red, blue, yellow, and white. In times of war, the Philippine flag is flown with the red band on the top and the blue band at the bottom. During peacetime, the blue band is at the top.

9. The antibiotic Erythromycin was discovered by a Filipino doctor.

The famous antibiotic Erythromycin (Ilosone®) was discovered by an Ilonggo doctor, Abelardo Aguilar. Dr. Aguilar isolated an antibiotic from a soil he collected in Iloilo. He sent this sample to his employer, Eli Lilly Co. The brand name “Ilosone” was derived from the name of his home province “Iloilo”. Erythromycin (Ilosone®) became the first successful macrolide antibiotic introduced in the United States in 1952.

10. Manila, the Philippines capital city, is named after a mangrove tree.

Manila used to be a swampy district and mangroves were ubiquitous. The most common mangrove vegetation was Nilad, a mangrove tree with white flowers. Manila is believed to be the evolved reference “May Nilad” (there are Nilads).

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