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Pinoy Trivia
Mactan Myth
There is no historical evidence that Lapu-Lapu killed Ferdinand Magellan in a one-on-one duel during the Battle of Mactan on April 27, 1521. Nothing of the sort was was never mentioned by Antonio Pigafetta, chronicler of the Magellan expedition and the lone available source on the subjects. His account: Magellan was hit first on the right leg by a poison arrow, then on the arm by a bamboo spear while a bolo slashed his left leg. When he fell, a swarm of attackers finished him off with a hail of hacks and stabs.

First Pinoy in the Sky
The first Filipino to fly as a passenger was an Igorot chief named Gagaban. He rode with American pilot Lee Hammond in a Red Devil biplane on a short flight over Luneta on February 12, 1912.

Pinay Make-Up
Although cosmetic products were already widely sold in Manila in the 1910's -- thanks to the American occupation -- it was only about 15 years later that the ordinary Filipina could wear make-up in public with full confidence. Before then she ran the risk of being mistaken for a bailarina or a vaudeville artista.

Not Limasawa
Filipino historians now agree that Limasawa Island, in Leyte del Sur, does not deserve the honor of being the site of the first Mass in the Philippines. The actual site was Masao in Butuan Bay, Agusan del Norte, where the national shrine commemorating the event has already been transferred. The long-running error has been traced to an English translation of Antonio Pigafetta's chronicle of the Magellan expedition, where the prefix "li-" was attached to Mazzaua, Masao's original name.

Dynamic Duo
Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmena, Sr. were born in the same year (1878), were classmates in high school (San Juan de Letran) and college (University of Santo Tomas), and placed in the Top 10 of the bar examinations of 1903. Both later became provincial fiscals and governors (Tayabas and Cebu).

Aguinaldo's Ages
Emilio Aguinaldo became capitan municipal of Kawit, Cavite, when he was only 26 years old, headed a revolution two months later, and assumed the presidency of the republic two months short of his 30th birthday. He died at age 95, the oldest for any Philippine president so far.

Coup Leader
The Philippine coup count is nothing compared to that of Bolivia. Statisticians say this South American country has had 191 coups and counter-coup since it became independent in 1825.

Rizal as "Doctor"
Jose Rizal's "doctor" title does not refer to a doctorate as most people tend to think. For some reason, he was not able to take the examination that would have qualified him for a doctorate. Rizal did have a licentiate in medicine and so was allowed to practice in the profession.

Kids & TV
A UP survey reveals that the average Filipino child watches television at least three hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends -- more than the time he spends studying, playing, or interacting with other people.

Alak, the Pinoy word for liquor, appears to have been derived from the Arabic term arak. It's an old alcoholic drink resembling rum in taste, widely enjoyed in the Middle east and other parts of Asia.

First "Import"
Not many are aware that a black American fought on the side of Aguinaldo's army during the Fil-American War. He was David Fagan, a six-foot defector who earned the rank of captain in the pinoy forces. An avowed hater of "whites", Fagan learned to speak tagalog rather well, according to accounts, and lived-in with a Filipina. He was described as a fierce warrior and reportedly "salvaged" a number of white Americans captured by Filipino troops. He was hunted down after the defeat of Aguinaldo's army, and believed assassinated.

Pioneer Paper
The first newspaper in the Philippines was the Del Superior Gobierno, which began publication in August 1811. Edited by the Spanish governor-general himself, it carried only news from abroad as the paper was meant for the Spanish community in the country. Del Superior Gobierno had a life span of only 15 issues.

Bar Birds
Old-timers say the term 'mga kalapating mababa ang lipad' -- describing nightclub hostesses -- has its roots in Palomar, the famed Tondo red-light district at the term of the century. Palomar is Spanish for "pigeon house".

Manila, Manila, Manila
Manila is not unique. There are two other Manila's in the world, both towns in the United States (Utah and Arkansas).

Mr. Shoo Li
Jun "Mr. Shoo Li" Urbano is following in the footsteps of his father, Manuel Conde (born Manuel Urbano), when he created television's Mongolian Barbecue. Also known for his portrayal of Juan Tamad on film, the elder Urbano starred in the epic 1951 movie Genghis Khan, the Pinoy version of the life of the famed Mongolian warrior-king. It was the first Filipino film cited for technical achievement at the Cannes Film Festival. Jun's real name, by the way, is manuel Conde, Jr.

First Filipino - or Filipina?
Was the first Filipino a man or a woman?
The oldest human relics in the Philippines were discovered in Tabon Cave, Palawan, in 1962. The most important find was a fragment of a rather thick skull with a sloping forehead and wide, heavy bones. The jaws and the back of the head were missing, but subsequent carbon tests and ethic studies led to the general conclusion that the skull belonged to a small, slight human, a "Negritoid" who had lived about 22,000 years ago. Further tests gave the impression that the skullcap belonged to a woman.

What's the literal meaning of Intsik?
Authorities point  to two sources. Some say its simply Chinese for "uncle"; others claim it's from the Malay encik, meaning "an esteemed person".

Were Pugo and Tugo already bald before they got into show business?
No. They only decided to do away with their tops when they teamed up for the first time in a vaudeville comic act in 1934.

How did the Filipinos get their Spanish surnames?
From the Catalogo de Apellidos of Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria who in 1849 decreed that all indios (the Spanish term for Filipino natives) must adopt surnames for proper identification and taxation. The catalogue consisted of Spanish names from the telephone directory of Madrid and local names from friar dictionaries of Philippine languages. Exempted from the decree were pre Hispanic royalty (Soliman, Macapagal, Tupas, etc.) and Chinese residents who already had surnames.

What was the first Philippine komiks magazine?
Halakhak Komiks (1946).

Where did the words siomai and lumpia come from?
Siomai is from the Chinese sio ("hot") and mi ("wheat flour") or mai ("soft rice").
Lumpia, on the other hand, is from lun ("tough") and pia ("anything made of flour, bread or biscuit").

Is the Pandaca pygmea, or dwarf goby, of the Philippines still the smallest fish in the world?
Not anymore. The new title-holder is another puny goby: the Trimmatom nanus of the Chagos archipelago in the central Indian Ocean. It's 0.33 inch in length, just slightly smaller than the Pandaca pygmea. Both are no bigger than an ant.

What's the ratio between the number of Filipino doctors and the country's population?
As of last count, there is 1 Filipino doctor for every 1,090 Filipinos.

What is Imelda Marcos' shoe size?

Who were the first Filipinos to gain international fame?
Not Jose Rizal or Emilio Aguinaldo as many people are inclined to think . The honor belongs to a pair of artists: Juan Luna and Felix R. Hidalgo. They earned the gold and silver medals at Madrid's National Exposition of Fine Arts in 1884. Luna won for his Spolarium; Hidalgo for Christian Virgins Exposed to the Mob.

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Reference: Barrameda, Bong. Pinoy Trivia. volume 1. Anvil Publishing Inc., Pasig Metro Manila Philippines, 1993

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Copyright 2000 Ron Velasco