Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Anthropological Hoax


The Marcos Regime left a string of the most intriguing stories of our time. No, I am not talking about the discovery of Yamashita Treasure, or Ninoy's Assasination Plot. Those stories had been dissected and discussed ad nauseam, it feels like I had first hand share of the events myself. What I found out is less celebrated, but equally interesting.


The year was 1971. There was so much excitement circulating within the scientific world. Dafal, a Filipino hunter, stumbled upon the Tasaday Tribe hidden within a thick rain forest. The modern world had just discovered a prehistoric relic existing on an island in Mindanao. Scientists, anthropologists, international media and organizations came in hordes, all eager to stick their noses into such an amazing discovery: A prehistoric group of people, still following stone age ways far from the reaching arms of civilization.


The Minister for Tribal Affairs, Manuel Elizalde, during Ferdinand Marcos, is in charge of the affairs.And just a year after their discovery, the Tasaday forest was declared as an anthropological reserve in 1972.


It stayed that way for fourteen years.There were about twenty-seven people, including children, and they existed without any knowledge about agriculture or raising livestock. They had no social norms, no social hierarchy, no leaders.


But when the Marcos Regime receives the last inevitable blow in 1986, and as soon as Marcos was unseated, the lid was lifted and out goes the stench. Oswald Iten, a Swiss journalist, paid an unannounced visit to the Tasaday reserve. Much to Ossy's surprise, he was greeted by tribesmen wearing modern underwear beneath leaf aprons and cavemen living in modern houses.


It was a splendid performance worthy of an Oscar Award. The gentle Tasaday sported crude tools and spoke their ancient Tasaday language to pull up the act. And the children too, were very cooperative.
While scientists were shaking their heads and anthropologists argue how they were taken for a ride, Elizalde is sipping the rich, steaming froth of the proceeds from grants, intended for the tribe's preservation.


Amazing isn't it? I'd probably try to look for someone who can claim that he's seen Bin Laden basking under our tropical sun.

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