Ah, Tallano gold. The gold that keeps on giving.
No matter how many times it has been debunked, this tall tale just... won't... die. So, what gives? What's the origin story of this fool's gold that has captured the imagination of many Filipinos amid the frenzy of the election campaign? And why is it always linked to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.?
In case you missed it, the first thing you need to know about the Tallano gold is this—it is not true.
Off the bat, historians who are worth their weight in gold have outrightly dismissed the story as a lie, a fabrication, an untruth.
Jose Victor Torres, professor of history at the De La Salle University in Manila, said Tallano gold is a "historical hoax" that, though without any historical document as proof, has been fueled by people's hopes of striking gold
"It's because of money," Torres told Wag Po! of One.PH on Jan. 28. "No matter what you say that it's fake or not, pagtitiyagaan talaga iyan...People are willing to sacrifice the truth for money."
The myth and the lie
Filipino netizens have more or less come across posts about the Tallano gold, a popular myth long associated with the Marcoses that's already been debunked time and again—even denied by the Marcoses themselves. Yet it continues to thrive on social media, with a local soap maker even creating a product inspired by its sheer ludicrousness.
The myth, which has different versions in true word of mouth fashion, perpetuates that the late president Ferdinand Marcos was entrusted with hundreds of thousands of metric tons of gold owned by the so-called royal Tallano clan. Marcos was supposedly their lawyer and was paid with the fabled gold for his services.
Baka may alam sila, sabihan ako. Kailangan ko iyong gold.
The Tallano gold, as purported by some pro-Marcos propagandists, supposedly explains the wealth the Marcoses possess. This false provenance then provides a handy repudiation to claims that the Marcoses enriched themselves by amassing billions of ill-gotten wealth when the ousted dictator held on to power for over two decades during the Martial Law period.
The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), created to recover assets from the Marcoses and their cronies, has so far retrieved some P171 billion from the Marcoses. The PCGG is still running after over P125 billion worth of Marcos assets that are allegedly part of their ill-gotten wealth.
While the baseless story has been proliferating on social media, especially on pro-Marcos Facebook pages and YouTube channels, one of its main purveyors is also the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the political party founded by Marcos, Sr.. The party, which also supports Marcos Jr.'s candidacy, published the disinformation about the specious origins of the story on its website.
With the story refusing to die a natural death, Marcos Jr. has also set the record straight about the long-running legend.
“Walang ginto. Walang ginto,” Marcos Jr. told dzBB during its Feb. 5 interview of presidential candidates, when asked to confirm if their family owns metric tons of gold and if they'll supposedly distribute it to his supporters.
In a Jan. 24 interview with One PH, he also shared the same sentiment about the myth, saying he hasn't seen such kind of gold in his entire life.
Marcos Jr. even mentioned in jest that the public should inform him about the location of the gold in question.
“Baka may alam sila, sabihan ako," he said. "Kailangan ko iyong gold."
A week before that, his lawyer and spokesman Vic Rodriguez said that he supposedly also has no idea about the Tallano gold long associated with the Marcoses.
The cooperative will reportedly open bank accounts for the beneficiaries where they'll supposedly receive the Marcos wealth.
“To be candid with you, I have always been candid with all of you, hindi ko alam,” Rodriguez told reporters on Jan. 17. “Call me ignorant, but I have to profess my ignorance now, hindi ko alam iyan. Hindi ako sumusubaybay sa social media. So you have to excuse me on that one."
Back in 2018, Marcos Jr.'s sister Sen. Imee Marcos also addressed the issue on One News' The Chiefs, saying she's "never seen" any gold and it "continues to be an urban legend."
"I’ve heard about it being talked about constantly pero wala namang nakikita," she said, adding that people "are always tantalized" by stories of gold they supposedly own.
One million pesos each
In 2017, at the time when the Marcoses still haven't publicly denied the myth, thousands of people with booklets titled “The Life and Achievements of Ferdinand Marcos" trooped to the University of the Philippines Los Baños on Sept. 23, just two days after the 45th anniversary of the martial law declaration.
UPLB Perspective, the university's official student publication, reported that a cooperative that supposedly handles the wealth of the Marcoses promised attendees one million pesos each.
BREAKING: People from CALABARZON in UPLB claiming to have "promised" cash for a "Marcos event" pic.twitter.com/gf3P7o2brP— UPLB Perspective (@uplbperspective) September 23, 2017
Most of the hopefuls were already on campus as early as 3:00am, coming from different parts of Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Marinduque, with some bringing their children with them. Some even left homes the evening before just to make it to the day-long affair.
UPLB Perspective also reported that of the one million pesos each supposed beneficiary will receive, P500,000 will be distributed to the beneficiary for four years and two months, or P10,000 monthly. The other half, meanwhile, will be contributed to the cooperative as the beneficiary’s capital share.
The cooperative will reportedly open bank accounts for the beneficiaries where they'll supposedly receive the Marcos wealth, the publication added.
Attendees were also promised P10,000 in cash advance during the program. But alas, they all went home empty-handed, without any cash or even a gold bar.
At the time, Marcos Jr. distanced his family from what he called a "scam" and warned the public about believing in such fraudulent promises.
Torres also attributed the baseless story's enduring popularity to social media, despite several news organizations' fact-checks and the Marcoses denying it themselves. He said that as long as posts or videos about Tallano gold are out there, there would always be people that would be led to believe it.
"As long as it is disseminated and disseminated, it will continue to go," said Torres.