When there’s smoke, there’s usually a whole lot of fire. Or so the saying goes. But there are times when it’s really just all smoke. Such is the case with urban legends. SPOT.ph lists 10 tall tales that clouded our judgment.
Alice Dixson (shown here in the ad that launched her career) brought out the man-snake’s wild side.
1. Robinson–half-man, half-snake–terrorizes pretty mallrats.
Story time: The Gokongwei family allegedly built Robinsons Galleria to serve as the romping ground of their mutant offspring Robinson, who was supposedly the twin brother of Robina Gokongwei-Pe. Robinson’s popularity peaked in the 1990s, when everyone believed that he indeed existed and frequented the ladies’ fitting rooms of the department store. Others claimed he also liked to munch on little children, whom he would somehow grab while they were in the comfort room.
WTF details: People justified Robinson’s existence by pointing out that the "R" in the mall’s logo looked like a snake. Then, it was rumored that actress Alice Dixson was violated by Robinson. In other accounts, he was said to have fallen in love with her and decided not to harm her. He was also alleged to have abducted a saleslady–only to set her free when he realized that she was not really pretty enough for him.
Fact check: Chalk it up to mall wars and the hysteria of overwrought urbanites. The crazy thing about the whole Robinson debacle is that even so-called educated people believed it was true. In any case, when SPOT.ph asked the alleged snake twin in question, Robina Gokongwei-Pe, about her so-called reptile sibling she laughed it off and said, "Ahas? Naging handbag at sapatos na sa Robinsons!" It’s worth noting that Cagayan de Oro’s Gaisano Superstore was also subject to a similar snake rumor back in the 1980s.
The windmills are authentic–but some people think Bongbong Marcos isn’t.
2. Bongbong Marcos isn’t himself.
Story time: There’s a story going around that the Bongbong we see now isn’t genuine. The real Bongbong was said to have died in an accident in Manila or after being abducted by armed men somewhere in Mindanao. Another account says he died in London when he was a teenager. Anyway, after his supposed death, the family was said to have tapped a Marcos cousin who closely resembled him to undergo plastic surgery and take his place.
WTF details: Sometime after the story broke out between the late 1970s to the early 1980s, people pointed out that Bongbong’s mom, Imelda, was not so affectionate with him anymore. Others marveled at the fact that Bongbong got "cuter."
Fact check: The family’s political rivals and legion of haters probably cooked up the story. But if it’s true–then that’s one lucky cousin.
We hope Lilet never heard the sordid Coke + Cortal story.
3. Cortal + Coke = Abortion.
Story time: Some people think that taking Cortal (a local brand of aspirin) and washing it down with Coke would induce abortions. More often than not, people will retell a story that they had heard from a friend of a friend’s other friend about a young woman who could not face the fact that she had gotten knocked up. The said young woman allegedly used the Cortal-Coke combo to solve her problem.
WTF details: Information about the young girl would vary. The name of her school or dormitory would change. In some stories, she got away with her so-called "self-medication." In others, she was rushed to an emergency room of some hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Of course, the young woman in question never had a name and it was never revealed who the father of her unborn child was.
Fact check: This is either a twisted cautionary tale that’s told to young girls who are out on their own or a campaign against Cortal and Coke. Nevertheless, somebody posed a question related to the combo online.
Does this look like a troubled bridge to you?
4. The San Juanico Bridge has a bloody foundation.
Story time: The San Juanico Bridge’s foundation had allegedly been made stronger by the blood of numerous street children. The kids were the "offerings" for a pagan or demonic ritual to guarantee the strength of the structure. This is why, people say, the bridge is haunted by many lost spirits. Others say that the success of the bloody rituals done for San Juanico Bridge encouraged others to do the same for their bridges and buildings. Only one detail was constant: the use of street kids as sacrifice.
WTF details: A post in a PinoyExchange thread states: "Imelda Marcos was in charge of building the bridge. She consulted a manghuhula who said that the bridge would never be finished unless the blood of children [would be spilled on the foundation]. So Imelda ordered [street children to be kidnapped] and [their throats were] slit on the bridge’s location. Their bodies were thrown into the river. A mermaid or diwata who resided in the river saw the plight of the children and was saddened by it. She cursed Imelda. So the First Lady grew scales on her legs and she smelled fishy. That was why she wore long skirts and bathed as often as possible."
Fact check: Whoever concocted this tale probably wanted to scare off street kids. Or maybe he or she had some serious issues with the San Juanico Bridge or Imelda Marcos. The latter may be more likely as the story is believed to have originated in the Marcos era.
Rizal is a hero of many talents–but he’s surely not a monster’s daddy.
5. Jose Rizal is Adolf Hitler’s father.
Story time: Since Rizal traveled to Europe and made a stopover in Germany, it was convenient for many conspiracy theorists to suggest that he had a dalliance with a young German lass. She allegedly got pregnant with the baby who would be Hitler.
WTF details: For some strange reason, people actually pointed out physical resemblances between Rizal and Hitler. If Rizal were alive, he’d be angrily saying, "Noli me tangere!"
Fact check: Blogger and urban legends junkie Paulo Ordoveza cites Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) History teacher Glenn Garfield Ang’s detailed chronology of Rizal’s stint in Europe from Jose Rizal, the Renaissance Man, a reference CD-ROM available at the AdMU History Department. "Rizal was in London from June 1888 to September 1888, after which he went to France and spent some time there," Ang writes. "Hitler’s birthday is April 20, 1889. Giving an allowance of nine months from conception to birth, Rizal should have been in Austria in July 1888, if he were indeed Hitler’s natural father. But this is contradicted by the fact that Rizal was in London in July 1888 and remained there until September 1888. Therefore, it is completely impossible for Rizal to have been the natural father of Hitler."
So, do you think these jellyfish can bring down a nation?
6. A jellyfish attack causes a Luzon-wide blackout.
Story time: On December 10, 1999, most of Luzon’s lights went out. A BBC News article reveals: "Authorities said that in fact, large numbers of jellyfish had been sucked into the seawater intake of a major power plant near Manila, clogging up the mechanism." Of course, nobody bought the story.
WTF details: There were people who said the jellyfish were giant mutant ones. Reports indicated that "50 truckloads" of jellyfish had to be removed from the site. It was the height of President Joseph "Erap" Estrada’s notoriety so a lot of people thought that another coup d’ etat was brewing. Some also thought it was the early manifestation of the Y2K Bug.
Fact check: It’s no wonder that people smelled something fishy. Today, you can’t find a video footage or photos of the jellyfish that caused so many Filipinos to panic. Pranksters, of course, had a field day. One of them even wrote a bogus report about the incident. The truth is still out there.
Needles alone already make people nervous.
7. AIDS patient injects moviegoers with his blood.
Story time: The story about a guy carrying a syringe full of HIV positive blood going around injecting moviegoers at Megamall broke out sometime in the 1990s. There were those who claimed to have heard stories from people who knew one of the guy’s victims.
WTF details: In some stories, the guy was said to be wearing a baseball cap or a hooded jacket. Some people also said that the guy would let out a maniacal laugh each time he injected a victim. The guy seemed to "melt into the shadows" since nobody reported seeing him running or headed anywhere.
Fact check: Anti-Megamall groups probably got together and decided to infect it with this story, which, by the way, isn’t original. It turns out that this story has an international scope.
How can detergents with dirt magnets be the work of the devil?
8. Tide is the devil’s detergent.
Story time: Stories about Procter and Gamble (P&G)–the multinational company that manufactures Tide, Safeguard, Pantene, and many others–being the profit-generating arm of Satanists spread like soapsuds in the 1980s. People were told that the moon-and-stars logo found on the boxes of P&G products was the symbol of the Anti-Christ. The number of the Beast, "666," was supposed to be hidden in the logo.
WTF details: Procter and Gamble’s earnings were supposed to be used for the world domination of demon worshippers. There were also emails asserting that the so-called "owner" of P&G had appeared in a US talk show (Oprah Winfrey’s, Sally Jesse Raphael, Phil Donahue, or Merv Griffin’s) and admitted that "a large portion of his profits from Procter & Gamble Products goes to support [the] Satanic Church." The email even gives details on how one could obtain a transcript of the said show. The catch? There was no such episode in any of the shows mentioned. Moreover, P&G is a "publicly held" entity. Thus, it’s not owned by a single person.
Fact check: P&G has a lot of competitors–and the fight for market share could get ugly. Perhaps, it was one of them who concocted this hellish story. P&G tried to shake off this rumor by suing those who spread it. In an August 1, 1990 Chicago Sun Times article, it was revealed that P&G sued a Kansas-based couple, James and Linda Newton of Parsons, "for allegedly making statements and distributing literature stating that P&G supported the Church of Satan." Then, in 2007, P&G was awarded $19 million in its lawsuit against Amway (a company that manufactures consumer products) distributors who allegedly spread the story.
This mockumentary clip proves why manananggals shouldn’t come to the city.
9. Manananggal causes panic in Tondo.
Story time: In 1992, people reported seeing a manananggal in Tondo. Some said that the manananggal had been on board a ship en route to Siquijor. But, for some reason, she got stranded in Manila. In some accounts, the ship that she was on got wrecked.
WTF details: People began to claim that they knew somebody who had actually seen the manananggal or that they knew someone whose child was either stalked or taken by the manananggal.
Fact check: People panicked over the thought of a manananggal in the city. Sociologists pointed out that the manananggal story is often used to keep people in line. In the Spanish era, it was used to persuade people to be more pious. In the 1950s, according to an essay by Jessica Zafra, some sources pointed out that Americans encouraged the spread of the manananggal story in the countryside by telling people that strangers wandering into their barrios could very well be manananggals. Thus, they had to report the presence of these strangers. In reality, it was said to be a strategy to identify rebels. Thus, the "presence" of a manananggal in Tondo actually made sense, as fear of her would help curb the nightly brawls that were rampant in the neighborhood. Even tough guys prefer staying home than encountering a creature that wants to have them as midnight snack.
Junior Kilat sings about the mythical creature.
10. Sigbins are the cure for AIDS.
Story time: The sigbin is a mythical creature that’s more popular in Visayas and Mindanao. Old folks say that the sigbin walks backwards with its head tucked between its hind legs and that it "resembles a hornless goat, emits a very nauseating smell and possess a pair of very large ears which are capable of clapping like a pair of hands." They also say that it ventures out of its lair during Holy Week in order to "look for children that it will kill for the heart, which is made into an amulet." For some reason, the story about it being the cure for AIDS spread like wildfire in the late 1990s even if nobody really knew what a sigbin looked like. Some drawings actually make it look like a kangaroo.
WTF details: Rich government officials in Mindanao who lived in mansions or large estates were believed to be raising sigbins. They were accused of being too greedy to share the wealth with the people. The blood of the sigbin, its meat, or its oil was supposed to cure AIDS within seconds.
Fact check: There are no words to explain just how ridiculous this story sounds and the fact that many people actually went sigbin hunting. Many hapless people who wanted to make a fortune by catching the animal that would cure AIDS were said to have been shown pictures of albino animals that the con men passed off as genuine sigbins. Many of those who wanted to try their luck at sigbin hunting were asked to pay a fee for the privilege of being part of the sigbin hunting group.