August is History Month: Brush Up on Philippine Facts and Trivia
It’s time to brush up on some interesting facts and factoids about our historical past ,as well as some other tidbits of trivia about our country and countrymen. To those who do not know yet, August has been designated as ‘History Month’, under Proclamation No. 339 signed by President Noynoy Aquino on February last year. The entire month of August will thus “emphasize the most significant turning points in Philippine history”.
Here are some of those historical ‘turning points’ and trivia to get all of us in the historical month mode:
• History Week used to be observed from September 15 to 21 of every year, but the government thought one week is not enough. So the observance was lengthened into a whole month. Thus, we now have ‘History Month’ every August, when National Heroes’ Day is also celebrated.
• The first four cities of Metro Manila are: Manila, Quezon, Pasay and Caloocan.
• Cebu is the oldest Philippine city.
• The largest city in the Philippines, with an area of 2,211 sq. km., is Davao City. Quezon City is the second biggest city.
• The first mass in the Philippines was held on March 31, 1521 in Limasawa— an island in Southern Leyte. It symbolized the conversion of many Filipinos to Roman Catholicism.
• The symbolic name for citizens of the Philippines, Juan dela Cruz, is not really coined by a Filipino. But by a Scottish-born journalist working for the Manila Times during the 1900s, R. McCulloch-Dick, after discovering it was the most common name in police blotters.
• Emilio Aguinaldo lost to Manuel L. Quezon in the country’s first presidential elections in 1935.
• The Nacionalista Party (NP) has the distinction of being the oldest and the most enduring political party not only in the Philippines but also in Asia. It was founded in 1907. Nacionalistas who became presidents of the country include Manuel Quezon, Jose Laurel, Sergio Osmeña, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia and Ferdinand Marcos.
• The Philippines’ and Asia’s oldest existing university is the University of Santo Tomas (UST). It was established in 1611. Some of our Philippine heroes even studied at UST.
• Doctrina Christiana is the first book published in the Philippines. It was published in 1593.
• The first bank established in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia was the El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel 2. It was founded in August 1, 1851. Its first office was located in Intendencia, now called Intramuros. In January 1, 1912, the bank was officially renamed into Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).
• Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the oldest airline in the Philippines and in Asia. PAL was founded in March 15, 1941. Its maiden flight was between Manila and Baguio.
• The first telephone system in the Philippines was inaugurated in 1890. Provincial telephone systems were put in place in 1906. In 1928, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) was granted franchise for the entire Philippines.
• Alto Broadcasting Network and DZXL-TV Channel 9 is the first commercial television station in the Philippines. It has become what is now ABS- CBN.
• The Rizal Monument in Luneta (now Rizal Park) was inaugurated on December 29, 1930. The flagpole located there is where the starts of zero kilometer reading, or from where all distances from Manila are measured.
• The popular toy, the yoyo, was invented by 16th century hunters in the Philippines.
• The exotic jeepney is a post-war creation inspired by the GI jeeps that the American soldiers brought to the country in the 1940s. Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the surplus engines and came out unique vehicles of art. It is the Filipino version of the jitney, the taxi/minibus that travels along a fixed route, found in many countries. And it is the logo of When In Manila :-)
That’s enough historical trivia for one reading. If you want to get more historical and know more about our beloved country and countrymen, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and other government agencies have lined up quite a number of interesting events all over the country for the whole History Month of August. You still have time to catch some of them!