Elvis Aaron Presley, born gorgeous and brooding in Tupelo, had an identical twin, Jesse Garon, who died stillborn. Elvis, too, had a double. Even The King was marked by loss.

Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most intriguing and complex Americans. Progressive and imperialist, conservationist of American lands and mad hunter of African animals, Theodore Roosevelt had enough complexes to create havoc abroad and ensure prosperity and pride at home. R.I.P., Theodore Roosevelt! You deserve America’s eternal gratitude for the national parks, but for the taking of the Philippines, not so much. See a book on his exploits here.

William McKinley was an excellent husband to his wife, Ida.

The anarchist in Buffalo who killed President William McKinley in 1901 was a sad-eyed, unemployed factory worker from Cincinnati, Leon Czolgosz, son of Polish immigrants. He is allied in history with such enigmatic men as Sante Geronimo Caserio, Italian anarchist who killed French President Marie-François Sadi-Carnot in 1894; Michele Angiolillo, Italian anarchist who killed Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Canovas in 1897; and Luigi Lucheni, Italian anarchist who killed Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898. (By the way, what’s with the Italians?) R.I.P, Leon Czolgosz! Though you are not Italian, at least you had a cause.

Hermés bags can cost up to one hundred thousand dollars.

Demonio nga yawa nga iya iroy is a phrase in Waray, the language of Leyte and Samar. Never say the phrase before your mom. Demonio means devil, and so does yawa. Iroy means mother. It means, you devil who are a devil who is your mother. Mothers always get the brunt of it, no matter where you are.

 

General Jacob “Howling Wilderness” Smith was court-martialed in 1902. Theodore Roosevelt despised General Jacob Smith as an incompetent drunk who ruined the Army’s good name, but actually the general was also a financial speculator, a gambler, and a swindler. However, President Roosevelt gave Smith the benefit of the doubt, and upon his court martial, Smith was merely retired. No American was harmed in the making of their colony, the Philippines. 

Burning rice is not a good thing. It is a blasphemy against God. The sacredness of rice can be seen in the numerous terms used to denote it. Just as there are a hundred names for God, the terms for rice include: sapaw (budding of rice grains on the stalk), tukol (overripe rice grains not harvested), ipa (chaff of rice grains), kumag (fine powder sticking to polished rice), umok (small worm found in rice), tahip (the shaking of grains to remove husks or chaff), palay (unhusked, freshly harvested rice), bugas (uncooked but husked and polished rice), kan-on (cooked and boiled rice), am (broth made from boiled rice), goto (rice porridge with meat), suam (rice porridge with fish), bahog (random broth mixed with rice), apa (wafer made of rice), busa (popped rice), ampaw (sweet puffed rice), malagkit (sticky rice), kata (rice bubbling as it starts to boil), saing (boiling rice), bahaw (leftover rice), tukag (burnt rice left at bottom of pot). There is no word for deliberately burned rice.

The bells of Balangiga, stolen by U.S. soldiers as spoils of war, have still not been returned to Samar. 

Miss Spain, Amparo Muñoz, was crowned Miss Universe of 1974 at the brand-new Folk Arts Theater in Manila. Beauty pageants, boxing matches, the backdrop of films—The Year of Living Dangerously, Platoon, Apocalypse Now. The country in the seventies becomes a theater, a spectacle, a screen for global enterprises of war, fantasy, and sex. The country is a spectacle curated by capitalism and dictatorship, watched over by a theatrical couple, the dictator and his wife, the Marcoses. Eleanor Coppola in her documentary, Hearts of Darkness, captures these times. Her husband’s helicopters for his Vietnam film, rented from the dictator’s army, keep being recalled without excuse in the middle of filming, ruining the film’s budget. Power play by the regime. Meanwhile, the communists in real-life are being killed by Marcos’s machines.

 

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ELVIS AARON PRESLEY

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