The Lost Tribe of the Tasaday’s

I was stationed in the Northern Island of the Philippines, (Luzon) in 1972 at Clark AFB. and I remember hearing about the Tasaday tribe quite well. The previous year a discovery was made that fired up the world of anthropology like nothing else ever had. The discovery of a cave-dwelling tribe called the Tasaday Tribe.   They were discovered living naked in caves using stone age tools. It was such a huge discovery that National Geographic ran special articles on the tribe’s people. A cadre of scientists along with the rich and famous traveled to the Philippines just to see these primitives. Journalists and their publishers couldn’t get enough of this stuff. Books were written, television specials were run all filled with explanations on how this tribe lived, what they ate and on and on.
Check it out for yourself: Here is the actual article from Time Magazine archives dated Oct. 1971.
But like so many fairy tales, they sometimes end badly.  And this one only had one problem–it was all an act, set up to raise money.
The scientific world had rushed in and took the bait–hook, line and sinker! Like they did with Eoanthropus dawsoni,  aka: Piltdown Man.
Supposedly it all unraveled when a missionary had recognized some of the tribes people from one of those magazine articles he’d read.  It was a group he’d worked with and knew they weren’t living in caves, nor were naked…(those nasty christians, always interfering with science!).As it turned out a minor Philippine official by the name of Manuel Elizalde Jr., paid local farmers to live in the caves, take off their clothes, and appear Stone Age. They even rehearsed using stone impliments. Unfortunately Manuel Elizalde Jr. absconded with a large bankroll of money taken from funds set aside to provide lands for the Tasaday’s themselves.Here’s one of the remaining articles I’ve found about what really happened. You can research it for yourself and read numerous articles about this fraud…but sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, (especially when you have a group that gets funding for perpetuating the lie).
Not to be confused with the facts of the case, some “scientists” still cling to the theory that the Tasaday are a stone age people co-opted by the modern world.
My wife and I frequently go to Hawaii and visit our son and daughter in law who live there.  We’ve met these Polynesian Americans– who run a cultural center at Kualoa Ranch’s Macadamia Nut Farm. When attired in native costume, it’s not difficult to imagine them paddling in dugouts between islands.  I would like to see what Darwin would have written about them had the HMS Beagle put into port there.  Chief Sieulu and staff there at Kualoa are fluent in a number of languages, intelligent, well traveled, funny and know how to entertain, plus I think he drives a beamer. The Chief’s survival skills are unsurpassed! He can shell a coconut in seconds, make fire in a minute and play the drums. (If you go to O’ahu Hawaii I recommend you go to the Kualoa Macadamia Nut Farm and take the tour!) Darwin’s writings were applied to reinforce their long history of racist ideas, now cloaked in the name of science.  To classify some men as more evolved and superior than others, unfortunately led to the deaths of many who were considered less than human such as the Australian Aboriginal people. See Evolution and Racism.  

 

 

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