Many Filipinos are fooled by fantastic tales of the “Tallano gold,” which Marcos apologists claim was the source of the late dictator’s wealth to debunk the evidence of ill-gotten wealth recovered by the government.
But these are false stories. There is no factual basis for the Marcos gold tales. And the claims are too incredible.
Any person with a sound mind would not believe the tales about Marcos’s gold bars, which are a hundred times bigger than what the country’s mines have produced.
But many gullible Filipinos readily believe the tales and that the late dictator’s family will share the gold to ordinary people on one condition: Marcos Junior wins the elections next year.
Why not before the elections if these tales are true? Obviously, Marcos has been using the Tallano gold as a “carrot” to win votes in the May 2022 elections.
So, where did the Marcos gold bars come from? Who gave him the gold bars?
There are many videos on social media platforms, particularly on Youtube, about the origins of Marcos’ wealth.
The fabricated videos claim that Marcos, at 27 years old and before he entered local politics, had an enormous amount of gold — roughly 100,000 metric tons — hidden in New York and later transferred to Swiss banks.
The gold bars, based on tales peddled on social media, supposedly came from the Tallano family, who ruled a nation called Maharlika, an old name of the Philippines before it was colonized by Spain in the 16th century.
However, there are no historical records in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia about Maharlika and about the Tallano family who also supposedly ruled the Srivijaya empire in Southeast Asia.
In his own memoirs, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos never mentioned the Tallano family and the Maharlika nation before the Spanish colonial period.
Tallano, according to these incredible tales, had more than 640,000 metric tons of gold and that he lent the Vatican the gold bars in 1934. It was supposedly returned to the Philippines in 1944 through the efforts of a priest and a young lawyer, Ferdinand Marcos, to help set up the country’s central bank.
They were allegedly given 30 percent of the 640,000 metric tons of gold. Marcos was said to have obtained nearly 100,000 metric tons, already an incredible volume, of the precious metals.
There are many red flags in these tales.
One, World War 2 ended in 1945 and the Philippine republic was born on July 4, 1946. How could the gold bars return to the Philippines in 1944 when it was still under Japanese occupation?
Marcos indeed practiced as a young lawyer but he could not have played a role in any international negotiations when he was busy fighting the Japanese as a guerilla leader in northern Luzon.
In his own biography, Marcos wrote that he led a guerrilla group called Maharlika in northern Luzon from 1942 until December 1944 after his release from a Japanese concentration camp.
From Marcos’ own accounts, the tales of Tallano gold bars are all lies.
Two, the World Gold Council had estimated that the total gold output throughout history was only at 197,576 tons of gold. The 640,000-ton Tallano gold hoard was incredibly three times bigger than what was mined from thousands of years ago.
Based on 2016 data from the World Gold Council, China is the largest gold producer in the world, accounting for 14 percent of total annual production.
Last year, China’s share of gold production went to 11 percent, at 368 metric tons. The Philippines only produced 25.4 metric tons and another Southeast Asian country, Indonesia, where the old kingdom of Srivijaya was located, produced a little over 100 metric tons.
The World Gold Council also said the Philippines has only 157 metric tons in gold reserves. The United States has the largest gold reserves at over 8,000 metric tons.
These figures from the World Gold Council will prove that the Tallano gold tales are false.
However, it is true that Marcos had amassed gold bars. But the gold bars did not come from the Tallano family. It was propaganda to justify Marcos’s unexplained wealth.
In fact, it was Marcos who reportedly stole the precious metals from the government, according to a 1996 article by the New York Times.
In the 1996 report, “The Marcos empire: gold, oil, land and cash,” the Times reported: “During the first full year of martial law in the Philippines, 1973, the country’s gold reserves declined by more than 40 percent, according to an American official investigating Philippine financial matters who found the change extremely suspicious because it could not be explained by market forces.”
“The most frequent report from agents in Manila received by the Central Intelligence Agency involved diversion of precious metals by Mr. Marcos and his associates, according to United States intelligence agents.”
Despite these facts, many poor Filipinos continued to believe the tales about the origins of the Marcos gold, hoping they could get a little share of the dictator’s wealth.
The dictator’s wealth is undoubtedly true. Marcos is said to have stashed $10 billion when he hurriedly left Malacañang in February 1986. The Marcos family even left behind suitcases of cash and jewelry in Malacañang.
Marcos could not amass such wealth without stealing from the people. While his family lived like royalty, millions of Filipinos are living on less than $1 a day.
Marcos Junior partied all night in London, skipping his classes, and Imelda spent at least $3 million in a day of shopping spree in New York.
Based on a Supreme Court ruling in 2003, Ferdinand and Imelda had a combined income of $304,000 as government officials from 1965 to 1986. The combined total income was more than $2.4 million when taking into account Marcos’s private legal practice, which accounted for almost 70 percent of the total.
The Supreme Court thus ordered the forfeiture of the couple’s Swiss bank accounts, which amounted to more than $658 million.
In 1960, Marcos opened his first overseas bank account in New York with $214,000, but the source of the funds were unclear because he did not file his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth during those times. The Swiss deposits were opened in March 1968, when he was already president.
But on the basis of their income tax filings, the couple had only less than $1 million from 1965 to 1986. Yet they were able to set up an offshore company in Panama called Arelma with a start-up capital of $2 million. The company is now believed to be worth more than $42 million.
Forget the jewelry and the art works as these amounted to just a few million dollars. Focus on the companies — the shares of stocks and the gold bars.
The Philippines has recovered only a fraction of Marcos’s wealth stashed in hidden bank accounts, offshore investments and layers of corporate holdings at home and abroad.
Marcos Junior is the administrator of the Marcos estate and he never bothered to pay the estate taxes, which have ballooned to over P200 billion.
Well, he did not pay his own income taxes as governor of Ilocos Norte from 1982 to 1985, which was a drop in the bucket considering the family’s wealth.
Marcos Junior is now spending the dictator’s money to spread lies, disinformation, and propaganda to distort the country’s history and rehabilitate the family’s image to win the elections.
Stop the lies. Stop fooling ordinary people. Stop using social media to spread incredible tales. The Tallano gold bars are urban legend, that is the truth.