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Sunday, October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

Cursed Books You Should Avoid Reading

We all know that books are exciting and stimulating to read. Some books are even used as reference of directors and producers to give life to its characters, making these literary characters more well-known around the world. Popular genres of books include romance comedy, and historical fiction which are sure to catch the attention of both the book readers and movie viewers alike.  

Cursed, Books
Image: Libriproibiti

Just the same, there exists some books which have hidden stories that can bring out your fears and, at the same time, pique your curiosity. These books are believed to be cursed and haunted thought to drive you crazy and bring misfortune and bad luck in your life. In fact, some of these books are considered forbidden and are not made available for public consumption. 

To give you a peek of the mysteries of the unknown, here are five books believed to be cursed that you should avoid reading. But if you are one of the bravest daredevils out there, you are warned to read them at your own risk. 

The Grand Grimoire 

This first cursed book is also known as the “Gospel of Satan.” This book was written by a man who was believed to be possessed by an evil spirit way back in the 16th century. In fact, this book might be considered as the most dangerous sorcery book existing in the mortal world. 

Presumably, this book contains dark spells and instructions which can be used in summoning a powerful demon and to awaken the dead’s spirit. The belief was that by merely showing off the grand grimoire, you already expose yourself to a dreadful consequence, and that reading this book is akin to offering your soul to the devil.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), this cursed book is not available for purchase in any store. This cursed book’s original text is locked and kept somewhere in the Vatican’s secret archives and away from the prying eyes of the public. 

The Untitled Grimoires

In the year of 2013, this cursed book was made available online and was sold at about $14,000. It consists of a handwritten text with sets of two books held together with a spiral wire. This cursed book contains spells, incantations, enchantments, and an actual summoning incantation of demon and spirit.

This tome is a handwritten book by a high priestess of Wicca and a leader of her witches’ gathering, named Persephone Adrastea Eirene way back 1960s. On the first page, she warned everyone not to mess with this book if they were not believers. If, however, they choose to proceed and ignore the admonition, the effects of the aftermath are prompt and an awful revenge awaits its reader.

However, the location of the buyer is unknown at the moment. We can only hope that the buyer of this cursed book is safe and made the right choice in purchasing the book.

The Book of The Sacred Magic 
Cursed, Book, Abramelin
Image: Amazon

Not all parents have the same preferences and standards in choosing the best present for their children. Case in point is Abramelin who gave his son a book filled with visionary curses. In the year 1900, this book of the sacred magic was translated into English, and was then believed to build-up the vitality of a cursed entity.

There are various public presumptions that the author of this book believes that all individuals have their own exceptional demons inside. Upon finishing the book, readers will be able comprehend the ceremonies to re-ignite their very own demons. 

Learning and performing this paranormal execution guiding symbols of a magic word can be done, but it has enormous negative aspects. Anyone who owns one of this book’s copies might be experiencing bad luck and haunted by the other spirit strangely in the different realm.

The Voynich Manuscript

A number of researchers and historians already attempted to unleash and decode this manuscript’s language, but no one has yet to succeed. This is why many consider this Voynich Manuscript as one of the most mysterious books in the world.

The Voynich Manuscript consists of 240 pages written in the early 15th century with a complex reading structure and language. Some believe that aliens actually brought this tome here on Earth. According to them, decoding the book will release a powerful and haunting curse which will lead to the death of the individuals reading it. 

Orphan’s Story 

Some people are cautious when it comes to this Orphan’ Story because years before it was published, certain individuals trying to edit and fast-track its publication faced sudden tragic and mysterious deaths. Of course, there are skeptics who did not believe this and laughed out loud while completing the story. As things turn out, they, too, experienced the same tragedy. 

Despite all the warning, a Peruvian scholar named Belinda Palacios, still had the courage to proceed with the publication of this cursed book. Palacios spent two years of editing the manuscript of the novel which has been lost for 400 years in hopes of bringing it back to life. 

Cursed, Books

These books were controversial and nature and thought to hold curses that will bring misfortune, death or destruction to those who have read or in possession of these books. True or hoax, fact or fiction, these books will continue to haunt even the most provocative readers out there. 

Written by Mic Villamayor, IFY Books

Thursday, October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Mantiw: The Giant Whistling Creature Of Iloilo

The Philippines is composed of different provinces in which they own unique culture, tradition, beliefs, and holds an array of myths, tales, legends, and folklore. The province of Iloilo, which occupies the major southeast portion of Visayan Island of Panay, is known for its majestic churches and its colorful festival called Dinagyang (a Hiligaynon word that means merrymaking). But behind this jaw-dropping merriment is a horrifying story, the tale of Mantiw. 

Mantiw, Urban Legend, Creature
Image: Ocean Breeze Blogger

Believed to be a whistling spirit that stands thirty feet tall, a Mantiw is said to be often seen roaming around open fields or leaning against buri palm and coconut trees. Mantiw is described with a fair complexion, broad shoulders, and angular noses. 

They don’t seem to be harmful based on how they were being described, but Mantiw is easily offended whenever a human attempts to whistle along with them. Reserved and peaceful, yet when provoked, it will snatch the human nuisance for them, takes them off to the tallest coconut tree, and abandon their victim on the very top without any way of descending from it.

The tale of Mantiw is one of those unrecorded stories in Philippine mythology and folklore. Although there were stories of forest spirits, there is no concrete claim relative to Mantiw. 

Mantiw, Urban Legend, Creature
Image: Aswang Project

However, there is similar Malaysian folklore to Iloilo’s Mantiw. The Hantu Tinggi (tall ghost) is believed to exist in Malaysia’s western and eastern regions. Hantu Tinggi, like Mantiw, is a tall creature, so high that it reaches the sun. Said to be formed from a tree trunk (a coconut or palm tree) and are alive from the possession of a spirit. Malay people can only see the Hantu Tanggi’s waist down, and as it gets closer, it becomes taller. 

According to some stories, direct contact to its eyes would get one a sudden blind issue or gets stark illness. Some even said that if a person approaches the spirit, it will grab the victim transport it to a portal or a land-living them disoriented. Hantu Tinggi’s story is told to children to scare them and prevent them from climbing tall trees, especially at night.

Tales like this are becoming part of the rich culture of every country and every province. It is passed on through word of mouth or in written accounts; it adds color to their beliefs and can preserve one’s history. As long as these tales live, the journey of every country’s story continues.

Written by Kris De Vera Estrella, IFY Books

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

The Tales of Biangonan: Backward Footed Creatures

The Philippines is known for its rich culture, traditions, and beliefs and has an array of mythology and folklore stories from different tribes. Horrifying tales are passed from one generation to another; it was not intended only to frighten the people who listen or read through it and show the country’s strong preservation of culture. 

Tales of Aswang (shapeshifting evil spirits), Manananggal (a vampire-like mythical creature), Tikbalang (Half-human, half-horse creature), Tiyanak (a vampiric form of a creature that takes a form of a baby), and more, are some of the commonly known stories to most Filipinos. Grandparents once told these stories to their grandchildren or friends who were playing at night during a full moon.

Biangonan, Urban Legend
Image: Aswang Project

But there is one story that may be unfamiliar even to Filipinos, the tale of Biangonan.

Believed to be the oldest indigenous tribe in the Philippines, Batak is an old Cuyunon term, which means “mountain people” who were once nomadic. The most threatened among ethnic groups found their haven in the province of Palawan’s northeastern portion. Batak has also inhibited series of river valleys along the coastline of today’s Puerto Princesa City since ancient times.

Although it is a small tribe, it has an amusing culture and a unique way of living, along with its religious creeds and beliefs, in which Biangonan is one of those.

Batak Tribe described Biangonan as a small human-like with black skin, kinky dark hair, and feet pointing backward. Biangonans are believed to be seen climbing through the tallest trees. It was said that it could transform into a human or pig, its way to sneak into a village and hunt for its victim. Biangonans are believed to eat pigs or even human meat. They devour on every part of their prey but leave the jaw bone and hang in on a tree.

Biangonan, Urban Legend
Image: Aswang Project

According to the Batak people, they know if a Biangonan is near the area if they smell a rotting foul odor. Like any other mythological creature, Biangonan can be driven away by fire.

Batak Tribe in Kalakwasan, Sitio Tanabag, Palawan, with less than 300 people claimed that their Babaylan (pre-colonial Philippine tradition of female mystical healers whose spiritual connectedness was a source of political and social power), went missing for weeks. Until there was a jaw bone found hanging on a tree, it was then believed that Biangonan was the one who took and killed their Babaylan. They then made large fires for days that served as their security to drive away from the Biangonan and not kill anyone.

Jose A. Samson wrote an article entitled “The Bataks of Sumurod and Kalakuasan” which stated that Batak believed that Biangonans are small people possessed of talons who hide in rocks and trees. Before they attack their victims, they utter long deafening screeches that weakens and paralyzes them, and then they will tear and claw the throat of their helpless victim.

Did Biangonan exist? Do they still exist? Or they were just stories made by Filipino ancestors to summon their children to have their afternoon nap?

Long as these stories exist and passed through written or word of mouth, it will remind us about the chilling stories and hark back the story and the Batak Tribe’s culture. That one exists.

Written by Kris De Vera Estrella, IFY Books
October 13, 2020

Hachiko The Beloved Dog And The Savior Of The Akita-Inu Breed

In many circles, the mention of Japan evokes an image of stoicism, respect, and undying loyalty. Whilst it may be argued that these purported characteristics are too much of a generalization of Japanese culture, perhaps one of the most renowned examples of this Oriental ideal is the life of Hachiko — a canine unwavering in his devotion to his master and whose pursuits led to the preservation of the Akita-Inu breed.Born on November 10, 1923, Hachiko was cared for by one Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University who resided at a farm near Odate City, in the prefecture of Akita, Another “parent” of his was Mr. Hidesaburo’s partner, Yaeko Sakano. 

Hachiko, Dog, Japanese
Image: Tuul.Tv

In 1924, they moved to Shibuya, Tokyo, and everyday the professor would take the train at Shibuya Station to the T.I.U., and every-time he arrived back in Shibuya, without fail Hachiko would be there, waiting for him. This continued up until Mr. Hidesaburo’s untimely death from a cerebral hemorrhage in May, 1925.

Not knowing of his master’s death, Hachiko continued walking to Shibuya Station, waiting for the deceased professor. As he was of Akita blood, he was larger than the average dog, and in such a densely-populated city as Tokyo, he naturally stood out —people were either scared of him or annoyed at his presence, and so they treated him accordingly. This brutish treatment went on for a bit until he had an article written about him in the paper Asahi Shimbun by one of Mr. Hidesaburo’s students, Hirokichi Saito. From then on, commuters started providing hachiko with treats and sustenance as he waited in the train station.

Hachiko, Dog, Statue
Image: Matcha

His newfound stardom saw him being recognized by the Japanese as a symbol of the so-called “Nihonggo spirit” of familial loyalty, much akin to the immortalization of the 47 Ronin as paragons of neo-Confucian virtues. The Imperial administration even honored him with a breeding program of the Akita breed, undoubtedly saving it from extinction. Several bronze statues were built in the dog’s likeness, the most well-known of which currently stands at Shibuya Station.

At the time of his death from cancer on March 8, 1935, he was beloved throughout all four of Japan’s four major isles — Honshu, Ezo (Hokkaido), Kyushu, and Shikoku — and so his carcass was stuffed and preserved at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno. Hachiko was so famous that decades after perishing, in 1994 millions tuned in just to listen to his bark on national television, and to this day Japan celebrates his devotion every 8th of March — truly what one may call a “good dog”.

Hachiko's fame is also evident because of his portrayals in film, literature, and documentaries. One of the most famous works attributed to him is HachikĊ Monogatari, a film released back in 1987 and remade in 2009 with a new title(Hachi: A Dog's Tale). He is also the protagonist of a book titled Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog written by Pamela S. Turner.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

October 06, 2020

The Symbolism And Hidden Messages Of Different Crosses

The most common depiction of the cross will be the Christian cross where Jesus Christ was crucified. The symbol is used ever since to ward off Demons and serve as a holy symbol of how Jesus died for the sins of mankind. But it turned out that different crosses were depicted in many cultures around the world, in the New World and the Old World and in the West to the East. These different depictions of crosses can either invoke the force of good or the force of evil.

The Christian Cross

Christian Cross, Jesus Christ
Image: Christian Brotherhood

The Christian Cross is the most well-known cross in this list of crosses around the world. It is commonly depicted in two most common ways, a figure of Jesus Christ on the cross can be seen in rosaries, altars, and crucifixes. Some of these crosses can be also seen without Christs' body. Other than a symbol of worship, it is also used to ward off evil entities, fallen angels, or demons. 

The Swastika or Hooked Cross

Swastika, Nazi, Symbol
Image: 5th Voice News

This controversial symbol is a subject of censorship in many facets of culture, literature, and pop culture because of its links to Nazism. Before its controversial usage and its preconceived notion that it is a symbol of evil, in Eastern religions and cultures, the hooked cross or swastika is a symbol of prosperity and good luck. There are 2 common forms of the swastika, the left-facing hooked cross is a common symbol of positive vibes or emotions, and a right-facing one is a symbol used by the Nazis. 


Chakana, Incan Cross
Image: Pinterest

The Chakana or Incan cross is the only cross from the New World that is featured in this list. This symbol by the Inca is unique since it is often sported adorned with spirals or whole to represent the Incan conception of the universe. The three levels of reality that were represented by this Inca cross the levels are Uqhu Pacha, the underworld, Kay Pacha, the world of mortals, and Hanan Pacha, the realm of the deities. 

The Rose Cross

Rosicrucian, Rosy Cross, Occult
Image: Ancient Pages

The symbol of the Rosy Cross is the main symbol of the Rosicrucian secret society. Early Christians used the symbol of the Rosy Cross and faded into obscurity for centuries until the Rosicrucian brotherhood took the symbol as part of their belief system. The rose symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and how he sacrificed himself for the redemption of mankind. Other secret societies also used the Rosy Cross in their rites and tenets such as the Hermetic Brotherhood of the Golden Dawn.

Satan's Cross

Leviathan, Satanic Cross, Satan

The Leviathan's Cross is often called Satan's cross along with the more popular symbol of the inverted cross. Compared to the earlier entry of this list, the Leviathan's cross is relatively new, since the Knights of Templar are the first ones to use the symbol. Early alchemists also marveled at the underlying meaning of the cross since it sported the symbol of infinity under and inverted cross. 

The Ankh

Ankh, Egyptian, Isis Key
Image: Moyo Africa

The Ankh or Egyptian cross is a symbol of life according to Ancient Egyptians. It is also considered as the 'key of life' and the symbol acts as a microcosmic representation of the journey of a mortal from birth to death or from the womb to tomb. In another usage, the Ankh is also a fertility symbol often associated with Isis. This symbol was popularized by the anime or manga series Yu-Gi-Oh and became more recognized in the past decade. 

In the words of Carl Gustav Jung 'It is an absolute irrational fact to me that vital energy should have anything to do with a cross or the number four. I don't why it is perceived in such a form; I only know that the cross has always meant mana or life power'. It makes sense since there is one unifying symbolism of these crosses from different parts of the globe, these symbols dealt with the process of life and death from the earliest example such as the Ankh up to the Leviathan's Cross. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

October 05, 2020

The Butterfly Effect: Is it Real?

"A flap of a butterfly wings on one side of the world would eventually cause a storm on the other." Many people use this definition as a general representation of the famous Butterfly Effect. The interpretation is that a little something, possibly a thing, event, or anything, will soon cause huge trouble in the future. But was the Butterfly Effect's proponent meant these ideas? Or is he just simply spouting nonsensical things as the butterfly's flapping of wings is insignificant for a storm to occur?

Butterfly Effect, Chaos Theory, Storm
Image: Discovery

In the 1960s a meteorology professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Edward Lorenz, discovered a phenomenon and called it the 'Butterfly Effect'. It was the time when he was studying the weather patterns when he spots something valuable for a discovery. While testing various weather simulations, he ran a computer program and found out that rounding off one variable from 0.506127 to 0.506 has greatly affected the weather predictions for the next two months. This discovery has broken the beliefs of his weather co-statisticians that one should be able to predict the future weather by tracing it back to the historical records of the same weather at the time. 

Edward Lorenz devised a model that presents two identical kinds of weather, at some point, the other will drift apart from the other and will have a different occurrence. One will possibly become calm weather while the other might be the weather of storms. But he also pointed out that these two different, but identical weather have the chance to have identical outcomes.

Through Lorenz's point, we can conclude that his discovery signifies that one cannot possibly predict a precise outcome by just looking at the data. More specifically if one will predict a long-term outcome. It is advised to formulate a shorter time span for a lesser margin of error and more accuracy.

Edward's paper, "Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow" was presented to the public in 1963 in which the Butterfly effect concept was explained. This was used as a basis by others when formulating ideas by making the variables as seemingly identical to the original to avoid greater errors.

Allessandro Filazzola connected the butterfly effect in our daily lives. He said that "Ecosystems are vastly complex, and the loss of a single species might not have a perceived effect, but it could have cascading effects on the entire system. More simply though, just keeping nature as close to its original state is really the most important thing." 

Butterfly Effect, Movie, Choices
Image: The Lighted

Another realization has ticked the minds of Filazzola. If the butterfly effect is integrated into our individual lives, with more than seven billion people on the planet, can one person affect and create a worldwide change to earth? Filazzola stated that he sometimes wonders if his personal actions have indirect effects on the people around him, or in general, to the whole planet. 

"The items I buy, the people I interact with, the things I say, I believe can each have their cascading effects that ripple through society," Filazzola says. "That is why it is important to try and be a good person, to create a positive influence. One thing I also think about is how these indirect effects are often not as small and removed as I believe many would think." He added.

The most popular depiction of the butterfly effect was depicted in an eponymous 2003 film, Butterfly Effect(2003). This film starring Ashton Kutcher was critically panned at the time of the release but after years it has since obtained cult film status. The film introduced the basics of the butterfly effect with the overlapping themes of regret, choice, and even predestination. 

Written by: Yna Barcia, IFY Books

Sunday, October 4, 2020

October 04, 2020

Symbolism And Meaning Behind Colors

The human eye can perceive at least 7 million colors, but most colors stand out because of their underlying meaning. Since ancient times, mankind tried to make sense of what colors really mean. What these colors signify in religion, spirituality, mysticism or the occult continue to influence how we make sense of the meaning of colors that make our world more vibrant. These colors also changed the way we communicate, our beliefs, and the way we see objects and their uses.


Black, Color, Death
Image: Wallpaper Flare

Black is the color most associated with death, void, and disease. The depiction of the Grim Reaper or Death is always clad in black. It is also the color most associated with evil, malice, deception, and even rebellion. Jolly Rogers of pirates has a black hue over skulls and bones as well as flags of anarchists, and other radical movements. Black is also the color of deception, espionage, or treachery. 


Angel, Sky, White
Image: 123FR

White like blue is the color of peace, holiness, and purity. Abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Christianity often use this color to signify the aforementioned symbol of peace and purity. White is the color often associated with forces of good in fiction while black symbolizes the opposite. In warfare, the white flag is a symbol of peace, a ceasefire, or surrender. White like black is also associated with the afterlife especially the Paradise, Heaven, or the Elysium Fields or other places where benevolent souls reside. 


Brown, Man, Color
Image: Der Golem

Brown is a symbol of strength, reliability, and orderliness. Most homes and structures are painted in brown color to exude the vibe of the sturdiness and strength of an area or structure. Like green, this color is a symbol of fertility and nature. There is limited use of brown in world flags just like the color pink, purple and gray. 


Red, Guard, Color, Star Wars
Image: 20th Century Fox

Red is a prominent color in religion, philosophy, and even politics. Red is the symbol of vigor, fortitude, and strength. In geopolitics and flags, Red is a color widely used to represent bravery, revolution, change, and also signifies if the country is in a state of war. Radical ideologies often have symbols or flags in the red hue. 


Blue, Color, Dr. Manhattan
Image: Warner Brothers

Blue is the color most commonly associated with intelligence, cunning, and transcendence. It is often associated with the color of the skies or heavens and the sea, places that induce a  great sense of wonder. Blue is also associated with pacifism and cooperation between people as noted with the color used in the EU, NATO, and UN. 


Yellow, Color, Bumblebee
Image: Paramount

This primary-color has the most conflicting meaning throughout human history. Yellow is a color most associated with prosperity, holiness, and joy. Yellow is often depicted positively in both religion and spirituality but in medicine, the presence of yellow in a tissue or body part is a sign of illness or disease. In some cultures, yellow is often associated with treachery, cowardice, or betrayal. 


Green, Color, Buddha
Image: TripAdvisor

Like blue, green is a key color in nature. In ancient times, green is a symbol of fecundity, abundance, and tranquility. In modern usage, green is also a symbol of safety, and the start of something new. Green is not always used as a symbol of life, the color can also act as an emissary of death. Darker hues of green are often found in military outfits, vehicles, and other weapons as camouflage in the jungle or guerilla warfare.


Purple, Color, Buddha
Image: AuntyFlo

Among all colors, violet is the most often associated with dreaming, transcendence, rebirth, and inner harmony. This color is very dominant in the New Age belief systems and occultism. Violet is also a color often associated with bravery as represented by the Purple Heart badge, given to soldiers wounded or killed in action.  


Orange, Color, Buddha
Image: Pinterest

Orange is the color associated with change, progress, and spirituality. Being the color most associated with autumn or harvest, this color is also associated with change for the better. In Eastern religions such as Buddhism, monks are often seen wearing saffron or orange robes to signify a sound body and mind. 

The meaning of these colors was rooted in our ancient past, but even up to this technological age, in the age of pixels, these colors serve as tools to amplify the effect or beauty of a product or service. Colors also made us distinguish the forces of good and evil in fiction and religion.  Lest we not forget how these colors contributed to our progress, shaped our collective conscious or unconscious, or our identities since each one of us got a favorite color. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

October 02, 2020

The 4 Year Old Human Calculator

What is it like to be a genius? A lot of us wonder how the mind of a child prodigy works. Meet Jeeva Jandu, a 4-year-old Human Calculator and British Mensa’s youngest member with an IQ of 160+ having the same range as that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test. Amazingly, a four-year-old child has become a member of this prestigious society.

Genius, Child, Human, Calculator
Image: Guardian

Like any other child, Jeeva loves playing around and learning new things. She says, “I like reading books & learning about things in the world and how they work.” She began impressing her parents when she was still a baby. At seven months, she started sounding out simple words like “cat” and “grandma.” At 11 months, she finished reading bedtime stories, sometimes from memory and sometimes by recognizing words; she was already reading independently by the time she was 15 months old. Now she has been reading books aimed for 5- to 8-year-olds. She also has the comprehension and mathematical ability of a child twice her age.

Being highly smart might just be running through Jeeva’s blood. Her mother, Malveen, is a dentist and has always been academically great, gaining 10 As at GCSE and now studying for a postgraduate degree in orthodontics, while her father, an actuary, has a postgraduate distinction in actuarial science and is now studying wealth management. Not only that, Jeeva also has an older cousin in Mensa.

Malveen says, “Jeeva is chatty and sociable. Most of her babyhood she was the only child in her age group who could talk. She would often say that she wished the other kids could also talk like her so that she could have more friends.”

While being sociable, she could also read well for her age. Jeeva’s teachers at her private pre-school loves listening to her read in front of the class because she was the only one who could read fluently. She says, “No one else can read the words that I’m saying.” That makes her stand out more from her classmates. Aside from academics, she also excels in other activities such as learning chess and coding, as well as gymnastics, which she says, “I love dancing! It makes me happy to jump and twirl around.”

Child, Human Calculator, Genius,
Image: Guardian

At her young age, she’s already doing so much in her life. Her mind is very explorative as her parents observe that a simple conversation might lead to topics about outer space, how the blood pumps and circulates the body, and many more. “She’s very interesting and unique,” her parents add.

“Our main thing is that she feels happy and fulfilled, because that isn’t always the case when chasing perfection. We model failure for her, making mistakes in front of her. We ask each day what her successes were, and what she failed at, and celebrate both.”

Written by: Mic Villamayor, IFY Books

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

September 29, 2020

The Adventures Of Blackbeard And His Trail Of Blood and Gold

The late 17th century sees the rise of piracy in European nations. Among the most infamous and notorious names that existed in pirating history is Blackbeard whose name at this day strikes fear into the heart of sea-dwellers and bottom-dwellers alike. 

Pirate, Blackbeard
Image: BBC

With his long black beard that is separated in tails and lit by wicks, a demanding stature, a menacing gaze, and a proficiency to commandeer a fleet into victory, it is no wonder why men cower at the first glance of the sails of his flagship – Queen Anne's Revenge. However, before there was Blackbeard, there was a man born in 1680 that serves the British crown as a privateer whose job was to impound illegal ships from the Spaniards and Frenchmen. His name was Edward Teach (or Edward Drummond). 

Although much of his early life remains coveted for protection, his succession to life as a pirate is noteworthy. Edward Teach was among many individuals that were laid-off after peace treaties were signed that ended the wars of Spanish Succession. He moved to New Providence in the Bahamas (a proprietary colony) where he worked under another ex-privateer named Captain Benjamin Hornigold and found respite from the law. It is important to note that Edward Teach was an educated man who knows how to read and write. He is also well-versed in the piracy trading system based on his experience during the wars of Spanish Succession. He quickly rose to the ranks and commandeered a small vessel with a small crew. 

Blackbeard, Pirate, Ship
Image: Maritime Herald

Together with his record of plundering dozen of ships, his reputation permitted him to succeed Captain Hornigold who decided to retire. Their last loot was a slave ship named La Concorde which has a powerful 300-ton frigate with 26 guns of whom Edward Teach (now known as Blackbeard) used as a flagship, revamped with 40 guns, and renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Although many of the tales of victory by Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge were romanticized, it was true that he pillaged, plundered, and laid waste to merchant vessels in the Caribbean Sea. It is also true that he showed theatrics in combat. However, contrary to popular belief, he showed mercy against opponents, generosity to allies, and held democratic votes in accordance with the pirate code. 

From time to time he held alliances with fellow pirates including Stede Bonnet who commandeered Revenge. Among his most remarkable feats was the prolonged siege near Charles Town (now Charleston) where he seized eight vessels that held prominent and high-ranking figures. Among those figures was Samuel Wragg, a councilman whom he gave an ultimatum to give medicine in exchange for each prisoner which the councilman did. This feat is an example of how Blackbeard rose to notoriety and prominence. His actions toward big cities and small towns alike brought fear and admonition to all European citizens in the 18th century. 

Blackbeard, Pirate, Ship
Image: Blasting News

Despite his growing influence and fame (or in this instance, infamy), he decided to retire in North Carolina and his entire loots were sold during his return to Bathe Town. He was also granted a pardon by Governor Eden. Blackbeard, realizing he is not cut out for an ordinary life, decided to reenlist as a privateer. His tenure as a privateer was cut short because his covert acts of piracy have come to light. These acts culminated in the swansong of Captain Blackbeard. 

His demise was a tale of wits, manhunt, and remorseless battle. With five shots and twenty stabs in the body and the neck as recounted by his opponent Lieutenant Maynard, Captain Blackbeard eventually came to the light. Scholars described this event as one of the most important events in the golden age of piracy. His legacy and exploits, on the other hand, were immortalized through films, pirating lore, superstitions, and stories in general. Even inspiring the term Teach’s light that is attributed to unexplained lights at sea

Sunday, September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

Jeepney Driver Sells Books In Manila To Earn During Pandemic

Jeepney Driver, Coronavirus Pandemic

In the Philippines, the General Community Quarantine or GCQ is still in effect in many cities such as Metro Manila. The transport restrictions were lifted in other routes where jeepneys go from one point to another. But some routes were still restricted and some jeepney drivers are not allowed to drive for a fare. This led to emotionally draining scenes on the streets where our jeepney drivers beg just to get by and make ends meet. One of these drivers is Mang June, he said that for months he did not drive for a fare. At the time of writing, he is on the Manila-Makati archway border also selling books as well. 

Mang June's route was the Makati Loop service(Puregold Delpan to Glorietta Makati). This route is currently restricted and for half a year a time of writing no trips was made in that area. Other routes were opened and other jeepney drivers were allowed to drive for a fare once again. Mang June noted that some Good Samaritans decided to leave books for him to sell. At the time of writing, he is accompanied by other jeepney drivers who for years drive with him to the same route. 

Jeepney, Driver, Books

The one who submitted these photos on IFY Bookstore Official Page noted that Mang June tried to sell pocketbooks for approx 20 to 50 pesos and he is positioned in an area with many pedestrians and passengers. The one who submitted the photos also said that Mang June is currently asking for books that he can sell to get by. 

Jeepneys were one of the cheapest modes of transportation here in the Philippines, introduced in the Post War Era, early versions of jeeps were war surplus and it is dubbed as the 'Hari ng Kalsada' or King of the Road here in the Philippines. The King of the Road was put into slumber because of the looming threat of COVID-19 since the community quarantines were put to effect. 

Jeepney Driver, Begging

The Philippines is the country with the longest lockdown period in Southeast Asia. With more than 300,000 recorded cases in the country, restrictions were implemented by IATF or Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19. Public transports were allowed in other routes and in every public utility vehicle, face shields and face masks should be worn so that passengers so they will be allowed to ride and take a trip to another destination.  

In the case of jeeps or jeepneys, the operators should put thick cellophane plastic covers in accordance with the one-meter rule of social distancing. This lead to fewer passengers was allowed inside the jeepney in order to contain community transmission in public transportation. In the case of buses, social distancing measures were also implemented such as the one-meter rule, and some seats are not meant to be occupied. 

To those who are reading this article and currently situated in Makati or Manila or any nearby cities, you can give Mang Jun and other drivers in that area additional books so that they can add money to bring their families during these trying times. The one who also submitted the photos is also urging other booksellers to donate excess copies of their books. 

September 27, 2020

Curious Case Of The Incorruptible Mongolian Monk

Mongolia is a fascinating yet secretive country. Despite its reclusiveness to international affairs, it is a well-known supporter of Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) and the home of arguably the greatest emperor the world has ever seen – Genghis Khan. That said, once in a while, there would be stories that would spike international interest. In 2015, a mummified body was uncovered by local authorities that were almost sold in the black market. Auspiciously, the body was of political and religious concern. The incorruptibility of the monk raised a lot of questions. 

Mummy, Buddhist, Monk, Preserved
Image: Siberian Times

The body was said to be 200 years old and belongs to a Buddhist monk that was believed to be Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, the appointed twelfth Pandido Khambo Lama and the opposition from the rise of communism at his time; whose body is also well-preserved up to this day and in isolation. Buddhism is the largest religion in Mongolia which has arisen during the Yuan Dynasty in the 12th century and reemergence during the 16th and 17th centuries. It borrows elements from Tibetan Buddhism from Gelug and Kagyu with few notable differences such as believing in heaven. 

The uncovered body was said not to be dead but of trance. As phrased by Professor Ganhugiyn Purevbata, the remains of the Buddhist monk is in a state of meditation where he sits cross-legged in a lotus position of vajra with one open hand and another that symbolizes the teaching of Sutra.

As legends go, Itigilov at his retirement asked his followers to meditate. With the last gulp of air, he asked his followers to bury him and revisit him after 30 years. This proved difficult at that time since Joseph Stalin (the leader of the Soviet Union) was not a fan of Buddhism. He went about killing and destroying Buddhist monks and temples. Nobody knows what his remain would look like. 

What they found, however, was a body that is intact and undecayed. They reburied him in his crypt. Jump to 75 years later, the body was then uncovered in 2002 and shockingly, it was still perfectly preserved. Many claim that the body is near nirvana and Itigilov is close to becoming a Buddha.

His preservation is still baffling. Some say it is the cold climate of Mongol. Others would say it is because of genetics. Yet, the majority believes it is a miracle. 

Mummy, Buddhist, Monk, Preserved
Image: Siberian Times

In 2015, the body is once again taken out wrapped in cattle skin. But the uncovering was now of malicious intent. The perpetrator was a man named Enthor whose identity has eluded authorities on this day.  The Buddhist monk, still well-preserved, was about to be sold off. Thankfully, the police were able to apprehend the accessories to this crime. The body now lies at the Ulaanbaatar’s National Center of Forensic Expertise where it remains close-guarded.

Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books

Thursday, September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

The Treasure That Inspired One Piece?

One Piece is the best-selling manga series of all time. Its rich story, well-rounded characters, and world-building made the series an enormous hit worldwide. One of the most mysterious aspects of the series is the existence of One Piece, a vast treasure left by one of its characters named Gol D. Roger. The search for the treasure started the Golden Age of Piracy in the in-universe storyline after the famed Gol D. Roger was executed in the fictional place of Loguetown. In the real world, there is an interesting event that is quite similar to the manga. A certain pirate named  Olivier Levasseur left a clue about a treasure that is allegedly valued more than a billion dollars during the time of his execution. The code is named La Buse Cryptogram and to this day, the treasure still lying around waiting to be unearthed.

Pirate, One Piece, Treasure, Code
Image: Ancient Origins, Sodiu NMedia
Olivier Levasseur lived in the final decades of the Golden Age of Piracy. The Age of Exploration made it possible for rogue naval officers in European powers to set out and explore both the Old and New World, plundering colonies and extorting settlements for loots and even challenging trading companies and empires themselves. Olivier Levasseur is one of the most notable figures in this swashbuckling age of exploration. Being a former privateer turned pirate, he has a remarkable prowess in navigation and left destruction in his wake over the vast stretches in Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonies in Africa all the way through Brazil.

He got the most of his treasures from his exploits is the capture of the Portuguese trading ship or galleon named Virgem Do Cabo (The Virgin of the Cape). The ship was bound for Lisbon, Portugal; the Virgin of the Cape carried treasures, beyond even our wildest imagination. Different types of jewelry, religious artifacts, gold and silver coins/bars, precious gems from various territories in the Portuguese empire was looted from the ship. This is their greatest loot, along with similar raids on Dutch and British territories.

Pirate, Ship, Treasure
Image: Cajun Cutthroat

Olivier Levasseur also had a lot of allies in piracy. He will occasionally split the loot among his trusted allies and compatriots. His first ally after quitting the life of being a privateer is Benjamin Hornigold. The two crews spend a year collaborating in raids and looting, they parted ways a year after the alliance and partnered with several other pirates such as Samuel Bellamy, Howell Davis, Thomas Cocklyn, Jasper Seagar, Edward England, and John Taylor throughout his life as a pirate.

His 14-year career as a pirate ended when he was captured as Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. He was sent to the gallows at Saint-Denis, Reunion, France and during this time he revealed the existence of his treasure to the world. Before meeting his end, he exclaimed: "Find my treasure, the one who may understand it! as he threw the necklace containing the infamous La Buse Cryptogram to the crowd. The whereabouts of the necklace remains a mystery. But the 17 line cryptogram was transcribed by an unknown person and was since passed down and made to the public for centuries.

Image: Public Domain

The code embedded on the necklace became the Rosetta stone for the treasure hunters who want to unearth Olivier Levasseur's treasure. The most famed among these treasure hunters is Reginald Cruise-Wilkins or the ‘Treasure Man’, he tried to uncover the location of his Olivier Levasseur's treasure for 27 years. John Wilkins inherited his father's quest to carry his will. Olivier Levasseur's treasure will remain one of the world's most well-kept secrets waiting to be uncovered. His story might have inspired countless works of fiction involving pirates including the highly popular One Piece.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

September 23, 2020

The Life And Achievements of Nikola Tesla

Out of the many figures who have made their marks on history, few have been as influential as the Serbian inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla, whose creations in the field of electricity have been widely regarded as monolithic, bringing change to the then-stagnant industry. Tesla has, in his vast arsenal of over 700 patents, the alternating current, Tesla coil, loudspeaker, and others, all of which have, as of recent times, gotten much traction over the scientific community, and indeed much of academia at large.

Nikola Tesla, Scientist, Inventions
Image: ivdes

Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan, in what was then the Austrian Empire (now Croatia), to Serbian parents. He was noted as having a very strained relationship with his parents, and he witnessed the death of his brother at a young age. After dropping out from the Polytechnic School in Graz (he took courses on engineering and physics there), he went on to study at The University of Prague, gaining knowledge on wave mechanics and alternating current, whilst working with Professor Ernst Mach. Following his education, he laboured at Continental Edison, where he acquired practical experience in the new electric power industry. 

In 1884, he emigrated to the U.S., later becoming a naturalised citizen. He briefly worked for Edison Machine Works in New York City, but fell out with Edison due to conflicts over unpaid bonuses. Much of his lifefollowing this point was dedicated to advancing the aforesaid electric power industry. In 1893, while in a contract with Westinghouse Electric, he got to display the wonders of the alternating current, or A.C., to the visitors of the Chicago World’s Fair. This is generallyaccepted by historians as the point in which A.C. truly won over D.C., or direct current, whichwas pioneered by Tesla’s rival Thomas Edison (D.C. was ineffective at transforming voltages into lower or higher versions of themselves, but A.C. did a much better job at this than the former). 

Also built with the help of Westinghouse was the first hydro-electric power-plant in the World, which was located in Niagara Falls. 

Image: Big Think

In 1937, Tesla published a paper “describing the actual workings of a particle-beam weapon for destroying tanks and planes...” (from M. Seifer’s WIzard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla). Another creation of his which had great importance to the military was a “tele-automatic” boat (he writes about it in his autobiography My Inventions), viewed by the vast majority of academics as a precursor to guided missiles and other related technologies. 

The Tesla coil was, as said by the writers over at LiveScience (livescience.com), “a truly revolutionary invention... Early radio antennas and telegraphy used the invention... Radios and televisions still use variations of the Tesla coil today.” What made it a “revolutionary invention” was the fact that it was the first to wirelessly transmit electricity — in fact, such a concept was so alien to the general public of that time and so many were awestruck and amazed, and Tesla’s natural ability for showmanship drove this point even further. 

Whilst Tesla would eventually fall from grace after repeated attempts at “one-upping” Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, and a series of failures regarding his ideas of providing free electricity by “harnessing” the Earth’s magnetic energy, and die alone in a hotel in 1943, his life and achievements are still, to this day, worthy of praise and emulation (not his latter years though).

Written by Gian Marcus Barreto, IFY Books