The Philippines is known for its pristine beaches, beautiful women, Jose Rizal, and Manny Pacquiao.
But hiding beneath its surface are lesser-known facts and trivia even Filipinos may not be aware of.
In this updated and comprehensive list, we’ll rediscover some of the most amazing trivia and facts about the Philippines that will make you realize this country paradise is more than meets the eye.
1. Juan Luna’s Dark Side
In 1892, Juan Luna, famous Filipino painter of 400 masterpieces, was involved in a bloody murder at their Paris home.
The victims: his wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera, and his mother-in-law. It is said that extreme jealousy forced Luna to pull the trigger. He was later acquitted of the crime.
Read more about Juan Luna and this story here:
2. Cory Aquino’s Real Favorite Color
The late President Corazon Aquino, as well as the EDSA People Power Revolution, are best remembered through the iconic ‘yellow ribbon.’
However, she once admitted that RED was actually her first favorite. Her association with the yellow color started when some friends suggested the song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” for Ninoy’s homecoming.
Cory continued to use her yellow trademark after her husband’s death.
3. The Pepsi number fever fiasco of 1992
Dubbed as the “Number Fever,” the promo offered by Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines promised to give away 1 million pesos to whoever would get a bottle cap with the numbers “349” printed on it.
As it turned out, there was a technical glitch: Pepsi accidentally printed 800,000 caps with the winning numbers.
In the end, the company spent more than 200 million pesos to pay up to 500,000 disappointed claimants. The case of the infamous “Pepsi 349” fiasco was finally closed in 2006.
4. A former military captain in the Philippines who died in the sinking of Titanic
A former journalist, Archibald Willingham Butt was a well-known military aide and adviser to US presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. He joined the army who fought during the Spanish-American War.
After the war ended, he was assigned to the Philippines as a volunteer and later promoted to Assistant Quartermaster with the rank of Captain. He stayed in Manila until July 1903.
In 1912, after a short trip to Europe, Butt embarked on the Titanic to return to the US. Sadly, he was one of the victims who perished when the ship sank. His body was never recovered.
5. Jaz Cola, a cola brand specifically made for the Visayas
Jaz Cola is a brand of cola produced by Coca-Cola Company exclusively for the Philippine market.
The beverage is only available in the Philippines and made for an even more specific market: people in the Visayas which is a group of islands in the middle of the Philippines.
As a result, Jaz Cola has reportedly “fueled Visayan pride among its teen consumers.”
6. The bridge that took almost four decades to complete
After 35 years and 6 presidents, the Aluling Bridge was finally completed on March 25, 2013.
Its construction first started in 1978 but due to a host of factors such as unpredictable weather and difficulty of navigating the river, the completion was delayed for more than 3 decades.
Aluling Bridge connects the provinces of Ilocos Sur and the Mountain Province.
7. A shark named after Gollum and Philippines’ Sulu Sea
Discovered off Palawan island in the western sector of the Sulu Sea basin, this harmless shark stands out because of its scientific name.
Gollum suluensis was named after the Philippine sea where it was discovered and Gollum, the famous fictional character from the Lord of the Rings.
Compared to its cousin, the New Zealand gollumshark (G. attenuatus), the Sulu gollumshark has a “darker, plainer and less contrasted coloration, softer body, shorter and broader snout, smaller spiracle, larger pectoral fin, wider head, as well as larger proportions of the nostril, mouth and interorbital space.”
8. The first same-sex marriage in the Philippines
In February 2005, Ka Andres and Ka Jose, two members of the NPA (New People’s Army), exchanged vows in a symbolic ceremony held in the Compostela Valley province in Mindanao.
In addition to a choir which serenaded the two with revolutionary love songs, the event was also participated by their comrades and few close friends.
During the wedding, the two held each other’s hand while keeping a bullet in the other to represent their commitment to the armed struggle.
Related article: 10 Amazing Pinoy LGBTs Who Broke Barriers And Made History
9. The hero dog of the 1957 Magsaysay plane crash
Originally known as “Serging,” the dog was later renamed “Avante” to avoid offending Sergio Osmeña Jr. who was a Cebu mayor at that time.
“Avante,” along with his owner Marcelino Nuya, helped save Nestor Mata, the only survivor of the plane crash that killed the late President Ramon Magsaysay.
For their heroic roles in the tragedy, the two received gold medals from the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and various government officials. Avante also received recognition from an animal rights group.
10. The terrifying giant reticulated phyton of Luzon
Agta Negritos are indigenous people in Luzon who, in the 1970s, competed with a reticulated phyton for their main sources of food namely Philippine deer, Philippine warty pigs, and long-tailed macaques.
Thomas N. Headland, an anthropologist who lived with and studied the group, later found out that 15 of 58 men and 1 of 62 women were attacked by the giant snake.
Worse, 6 of them were killed, one of whom was discovered within the snake’s belly.
11. President Ramon Magsaysay’s burial place
Magsaysay was the third president to be buried in the Manila North Cemetery. Interestingly, he’s the one who renamed the Republic Memorial Cemetery into the present-day “Libingan ng mga Bayani” in 1954.
Lesson learned? A person’s legacy is far greater than his burial place. A noble president and a hero can be buried anywhere.
12. Winter in the Philippines? Try Batanes
Yes, there’s such a thing as Ivatan “winter”–minus the snow, of course.
According to anthropologist Francisco A. Datar of U.P. Diliman, Batanes “is classified as having Type A climate, a pleasant semi-temperate climate.”
The Ivatans recognize two seasons: rayun (summer), which lasts from March to May, and amian (winter) from November to February. Kachachimuyen is the rainy months throughout the rest of the year, interrupted by a brief spell of warm weather (dekey a rayun) in the two weeks between September and October.
The “winter,” as most Ivatans would like to call it, can have temperatures as low as 7 °Celsius!
Read more about Batanes here:
13. The Boy Scout hero of Iloilo
In 2012, a 4-feet tall statue of the boy was unveiled at Estancia Central Elementary School to honor the 12-year-old Grade 6 pupil who sacrificed his life to save others.
14. The Filipino doctor who helped discover erythromycin
Read the full story: The Filipino Doctor Who Helped Discover Erythromycin (But Never Got Paid For It)
15. The inseparable Philippine presidents.
Learn more about these two Philippine presidents in these articles:
16. What the old Boracay looked like
Learn more about Philippine tourist spots here:
17. Why most Filipinos lack discipline in their own country
In the Inquirer article “The roots of Filipino indiscipline,” UST sociologist Crescencio Doma Jr. said that a lot of Filipinos in the Philippines tend to break laws because they don’t consider certain offenses as “serious” whereas, in other countries, clear punishments are given to offenses, regardless if they’re “small” or “large.”
He also said that our society lacks a “strong sense of role modeling” which means public officials and law enforcers have the penchant for breaking the rules themselves.
Learn more about the dark sides of Filipino culture in these articles:
18. The Skype precursor invented by a Filipino engineer
As early as 1954, Filipino engineer and physicist Gregorio Y. Zara (March 8, 1902 – October 15, 1978) produced a two-way TV-telephone, which can be considered as an improved version of earlier “videophones.”
This invention, patented as “photo phone signal separator network,” enabled callers to see each other on screen while talking, just like how Skype or FaceTime works today.
Note, however, that “video telephone” per se is not 100% original Filipino creation. Its precursors included a “one-way videophone,” demonstrated publicly in 1927 between the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in Washington D.C. and AT&T officials in New York City. An experimental “two-way videophone,” meanwhile, was already being tested as early as 1930, between AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and its corporate headquarters, both in New York City.
Zara also has other equally impressive and energy-efficient innovations under his name. These included an alcohol-fueled airplane, wooden microscope, and solar energy absorber, among others.
For his outstanding contributions, he received a Presidential Diploma of Merit and Distinguished Service Medal in 1959; Presidential Gold Medal and Diploma of Honor for Science and Research in 1966; and Cultural Heritage award for Science Education and Aero Engineering, 1966.
19. President Elpidio Quirino’s riveting story of forgiveness
In a speech in February 1953 before the delegates of the Philippines-Japan Youth Conference, Quirino said: “Personally, were I to consider that my wife and my three children were all killed by Japanese machine guns, I would swallow the Japanese allies now; but I am not living in the world alone.”
“I have my remaining children and their children to follow. I am not going to allow them to inherit feelings of revenge,” he added.
Read more about President Quirino:
20. The great Filipino one-man army
Read the full story here: The 10 Most Fearsome One-Man Armies in Philippine History