The rise of the Internet - as well as good ol' negligence - has encouraged the perpetuation of fake stories, fabricated artifacts and edited photos that attempt to fool netizens in order to garner fame and attention for the creator.
Below are 9 ridiculous stories that Filipinos actually fell for. As you read on, let every item be a reminder to always research into supposedly sensational news stories, and to take everything that goes on the internet with a pinch of salt.
1. The Lost Tribe of Tasaday
Back in 1971, a wealthy Filipino official named Manuel Elizalde stumbled upon a Stone Age tribe living in isolation somewhere in Cotabato. They used leaves for clothing, spoke their own unique dialect, and used crude prehistoric tools like stone axes and hammers. The mind-blowing discovery of the "Tasaday" tribe quickly became a worldwide sensation, making it to the headlines of reputed magazines such as National Geographic, Reader's Digest and the Associated Press.
Fifteen years later, in 1986, Swiss journalist Oswald Iten decided to pay a visit to the Tasaday tribe - and stumbled upon a mind-blowing discovery of his won. He saw that the supposedly "lost tribe" did not only strut around in T-shirts and jeans, but also spoke modern local dialects.
What was the real story? It turns out that the Tasadays - who were, in reality, T'boli and Manobo farmers - were only coerced into acting like cave men so Elizalde would award them with gifts. The story of the Stone Age tribe was eventually described as the "greatest hoax since the Piltdown Man."
2. Code of Kalantiaw
In 1433, the first Filipino lawmaker reportedly wrote the Code of Kalantiaw on the island of Panay. This document showed us how absurd and bizarre the laws were back in the early days - especially disporportionately brutal punishments for minor offences, that ranged from stoning and chopping off fingers to drowning and feeding to crocodiles.
The Code of Kalantiaw was an integral part of our history until people finally caught a whiff of something amiss - there was absolutely no historical evidence, not even a hint of oral history in Aklan - that ever validated its existence. The historian William Henry Scott was able to trace the person behind the fabrication - a certain Jose E Marco. The Code of Kalantiaw turned out to be a myth Marco submitted to the Philippine Library in 1914. To wrap up the case, the National Historical Institute officially declared it to be a hoax in 2004.
3. Snow in the Philippines
Only three years ago, on July 24, 2013, a Youtube news clip of snowfall in Mindanao was distributed throughout social media and left Pinoy netizens from all over the world awestruck. While many people rejoiced at finally having the opportunity to experience snow, others took the opportunity to launch serious discussions on the state of the earth - and the potentially dangerous impacts of climate change.
Climate change experts, however, can calm down - at least for this phenomenon. Both PAGASA and NHK World Weather Report anchor Robert Speta declared the video was misleading. The clip was originally taken much earlier, in 2009, during the Mayon volcano eruption. Technically, it's an ash fall, not a snowfall.
Rodsburgh News Live, the agency that allegedly covered the report, doesn't exist and is fabricated as well.
4. The Facebook ban
November 2011 was a messy month for Facebook, as tons of spam alerts and pornos from unknown sources somehow found ways to flood people's Facebook walls. It got so bad, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to officially release a statement, warning Filipinos that a nationwide Facebook ban would be enforced if the issue did not die down.
However, as the following reports would reveal, this message was just another pointless - and potentially racist - hoax. The real perpetrators were eventually tracked down, and Mark Zuckerberg was proven to have never made such a statement.
5. The Mermaid Carcass of Visayas
Were you one of those kids who had their childhood fantasies of mermaids ruined by a series of viral mermaid images that looked more scary than magical? These images were famous in 2003, and they circulated through an email message entitled "Mermaid found in the Philippines". These strange images of a dead mermaid spread like wildfire - a considerable feat, considering how social media wasn't as efficient or as used back then.
You can relax, though - while the photos look eerily authentic, later investifations proved these mermaids to be a hoax. This isn't the first time the fabrication of mermaid images has occured; there have been attempts to fabricate their existence as far back as 1,400 years, when people would surgically join dead monkeys (sometimes humans) and fish. The fake photos of this Visayan mermaid resurfaced once more in 2004, when the corpse allegedly washed up to shore because of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
6. The Giant Bat
A photo of a ginormous bat back in March 2012 caught the attention of millions of netizens all over the world. It was originally thought to have come from Peru, but further investigations confirmed it to be fro the Philippines.
However, an Australian bat expert named Trish Wimberley helped set things straight by pointing out that it's impossible for any species of bat to grow as big as the one seen in the photo. It was either photoshopped or cleverly angled to make the bat look larger than its actual size.
7. The Pinay cannibal
Here's someone who could give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money! The woman - allegedly a Filipina - might be one of the most horrifying man-eaters in existence. Upon reaching her 29th birthday, the unidentified cannibal had already apparently eaten dozens of humans, including her husband. She would store the human meat in her refrigerator, and later cook the up and serve them to friends and relatives. Her appetite for humans was so intense, she chewed off a prison guard's finger when she was jailed for murder.
However, there isn't much substantial proof the experts have found on this story, leading us to think that this "Pinay cannibal" could either be a hoax or a wildly exaggerated retelling of events. Some ancient Filipino tribes may have eaten their own kind back then, but cannibalism in the Philippines has been a dead tradition for centuries.
8. The acid rain text scare
What happens when mother nature and human error collide? Radiation and acid rain, apparently. Imagine waking up one day to several messages warning you of "acid rain" crowding your inbox. That's precisely what happened at the height of the radiation leak at Japan's fukushima nuclear power plant.
Thankfully, government authorities quickly put things back in order by reassuring everybody that everything was under control. Experts also explained that the wind current was heading north at that time, so there was no way that the radiation - let alone an acid rain - to ever make it to the Philippines.
Acid rain text scares have also occured in other parts of the world, such as in the photo of an email draft shown above.
9. The black she-wolf
On October 1719, Governer-General Fernando Manuel de Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda was assassinated at the Palacio del Gobernador. The criminals were never identified, although some speculate that Dominican priests were involved in the murder. Sometime during WWII, a novel written on the murder emerged out of nowhere. "La Loba Negra" (The Black She-Wolf) narrates the story of the Governer-General's widow - who transforms into a wolf every night to hunt down and kill her husband's murderers.
The novel was allegedly written by Jose Burgos - who, as far as historical records show, had no other literary works. Historian William Henry Scott later found out that La Loba Negra was only a hoax. Jose E Marco - yes, the same man behind the Code of Kalantiaw - wrote the novel as part of his vast collection of forgeries and fabrications.
Have you heard of any of these hoaxes, and have we left any out? Which of them fooled you? Leave a comment below!