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Revisiting the Ridiculous Tallano Gold of the Marcoses

A silent observer looking around. At times he must protect his identity with avatars and weird sounding names.

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I once wrote an article about the stupid Maharlika myth of the Philippines. Proponents claimed that the pre-colonial Philippines was once called “Maharlika,” and was an Asian superpower before it was ransacked by the Spanish. Aside from the fact that the term was misused—the historical Maharlika was a lower nobility class, and did not include kings and queens—the pre-colonial Philippines was actually a collection of small kingdoms, and not a united superpower. It was eventually determined that the Maharlika kingdom was a fantasy cooked up by a professional squatter.

During the martial law years, President Ferdinand Marcos romanticized the Maharlika title as a propaganda tool. Using the myth of Maharlikan royalty, he promoted authoritarian views, and even used the word to cook up his own bogus World War II exploits (his imaginary guerilla force Maharlika).

And then there is another myth, which attempted to explain how the Marcoses got their wealth. This urban legend became the favorite tool of misinformation of the Marcos revisionists.

It was claimed that Marcos once worked as a lawyer for an alleged royal family of the Maharlika kingdom. For his service, he was paid a portion of the Tallano gold, which amounted to many metric tons of gold.

Sounds ridiculous? It is.

A page promoting the myth.

A page promoting the myth.

The Mythical Tallano Gold

This myth could be found on various Marcos Loyalist websites, such as Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), where it was presented as fact, for propaganda purposes. It was also a common theme of Marcos Loyalist Vloggers on Youtube, while it gained notoriety on social media like Facebook. And just recently, even platforms like Tiktok became its home.

Again, the Tallano gold of Marcos's claim is connected to the bogus Maharlika Kingdom. The story claimed the Tallano family of the lost Kingdom of Maharlika held a vast fortune, more than 640,000 metric tons of gold, with the Vatican City in 1934. The gold was then returned in 1944, thanks to the effort of a priest, and a certain someone named Ferdinand Marcos, the future president of the Philippines. Back then, Marcos was a young lawyer, and his other achievement was setting up the country’s central bank. As a payment, Marcos was supposed to have received an incredible 100,000 metric tons of gold.

Another variant of the story even adds that because of his great wealth, thanks to the Tallano gold, Marcos founded the World Bank. Because of this great wealth, a victory by Marcos's son in the coming election is said to guarantee that the Philippines’ growing debts will be paid. The Tallano gold also conveniently explains why the Marcoses live such a lavish lifestyle, an alternative theory to corruption.

The Tallano gold claim is fantastic indeed, and it borders on delusion. On the internet, something too good to be true demands scrutiny, and a closer look made legitimate historians scratch their heads.

Ferdinand Marcos bust, before it was destroyed.

Ferdinand Marcos bust, before it was destroyed.

The Promoters

The myth of the Tallano gold is popular among Marcos fanatics. I visited one of their websites, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), and definitely the myth is well detailed. The website even accused the Catholic Church of fueling a demolition campaign against their revered Ferdinand Marcos. On Youtube, a character who calls himself Sangkay Janjan once flashed the fictitious Maharlika map with a claim that it is real. He wrote a similar article on an online platform.

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Overall, the proponents of the myth are mostly Marcos's loyalists and online influencers. The myth never gained favor among real historians. For a good reason.

The Tallano gold is as real as the Easter Bunny.

Marcos, declaring Martial Law

Marcos, declaring Martial Law

In Reality

Before we move on, Sangkay Janjan has been accused of spreading false history, fake news and historical revisionism, while historians unanimously agree that Kilusang Bagong Lipunan is a propaganda website (or false fact page). And since part of their contents is the Tallano gold, then consider it false as well.

And it is.

First, by using common sense, one easily realizes that possessing such a large amount of gold is impossible. Throughout history, the World Gold Council estimated that the total amount of gold produced in this world is only 197,576 tons, far smaller than the alleged wealth of the Tallanos. Where did the Tallanos get all their gold, if this planet has only given us a third of his amount as of this year. China is the top producer of gold, with 368 metric tons in 2020, while the Philippines only produced 25.4 metric tons.

The chronology of the events is also problematic. The myth claims that the Tallano gold was returned in 1944, but there was an ongoing World War during that time, and the Philippines was never a republic, until July 4, 1946.

Ferdinand Marcos’ own account also contradicts the myth. According to his biography, Marcos wasn’t practicing his profession as lawyer at that time, but fighting the Japanese as a guerilla leader. Though this is another fiction in itself; although Marcos did serve during the Second World War, his Maharlika unit was all exaggerations.

Misinformation

No matter how ridiculous it is, the Tallano gold claim is a convenient excuse to cover up Marcos’ own crime.

Corruption.

When he was ousted, Marcos left Malacanang in 1986 with $10 billion, the source of which was unexplained. It has been alleged that this vast ill-gotten wealth came from various shady sources: overpriced infrastructure projects, diverted foreign aid and U.S. military aid, plus much more. The Marcoses lived a lavish lifestyle during their reign, as their people struggled in poverty. Eventually, charges were made against the family, but the Philippines only recovered a small portion of this ill-gotten wealth.

in order to cover up the crimes that actually created the wealth, various Marcos loyalist groups and historical revisionists propagated the Tallano myth, which also gave Marcos a sort of “superhuman” or royalty status. In one incident, thousands of Marcos followers flocked to the University of the Philippines in Los Banos Laguna, believing that they would receive a part of this grand wealth (they then came home penniless). In a twist of irony, the younger Marcos and his sister began distancing themselves from the myth, even denying it.

References

1. Mogato, Manny (13 December 2021). "The Marcos gold bars: An urban legend". Press One.

2. Patag, Kristine Joy (18 January 2022). "Pressed on mythical 'Tallano Gold', Marcos spokesperson says he knows nothing". Philippine Star.

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