Talk:Tasaday controversy

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More of an anti-Marcos campaign article[edit]

What happenened to the older version? The older version is way much better, informative and balanced than this one. This article is more of a propaganda against Ferdinand Marcos, Elizalde and their associates. Unfounded sources and full of conspiracy theories, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that this article was revised by an aging Filipino activist re-living his First Quarter Storm glory days. Please revert this to the old version, preferably the [2006]. version. Gilgal1 (talk) 07:07, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

I fully and 100% agree! After reading first the wikipedia article I was VERY mislead, beleving this to be an open and shut case of a hoax. When in reality the situation I've discovered is waaay more complex, personally I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle and I think they are a group of a few people who a broke away a few generations away ago and just "devolved". Rather than being a tribe that survived for thousands of years unchanged from the stone ages, the impression of them being a "stone age tribe" however got overly exaggerated by the media to create a story which has now lead to the claims of "hoax" when there is no such thing. That is just my personal opinion however, from reading the wikipedia article and then spending the next hour digging around the internet reading more as I got curious. BTW, here are a few links I've got that are gone now: Mathmo Talk 16:24, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd say this could possibly best summarise my current opinion: Mathmo Talk 16:44, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Truth and neutral point-of-view[edit]

There appear to be two main problems that need to be addressed in this article: (1) whether the Tasaday are a separate ethnic group with a stone age culture, or part of another neighbouring tribe, or something else; that's a matter of factual truth; (2) whether the article correctly balances the controversy about them being an ethnic group; that's a matter of neutrality.

As for problem (1), it seems quite clear that there is considerable doubt about the "stone age" and "separate ethnic group" part of the question. If you just google the Tasaday, you meet nothing but controversy and there certainly does not seem to be scientific consensus about whether it is a hoax or not.

To respond to the section below, what the Philippine government decided is completely irrelevant for the truthfulness of this article. Governments are never neutral (they are involved parties) and it is very fashionable to use terms like 'ethnicity' and 'supression of ethnic minorities' for political and economic gain. There are so many governments denying that an ethnic group existed (for financial or political reasons) and so many groups of people claiming that they are an ethnic group (for the same reasons). This is not a political forum, but an encyclopedia. In addition, most references in the article are from non-scientific sources, and the only source published in a scientific journal, Headland 1992, appears to say that the Tasaday are a half-hoax. Seems to me that the article should reflect this more clearly, instead of taking such a biased stance...

Other references and fairness[edit]

John Nance has a website dedicated to the Tasaday -- shouldn't it at least be listed? I don't see it (did I miss it?)

Several linguists have done rather in-depth studies of the language of the tribe, and have concluded that they are a separate group, probably isolated from other nearby tribes (partly by the extinction of a related band that was killed in a 1955 earthquake).

These articles might help:

Primitives among Us: The Paradox of the Tasaday and Other "Lost Tribes" ALLEN W. PALMER Science Communication, Mar 2000; vol. 21: pp. 223 - 243.

Ethnic Identity and Popular Sovereignty: Notes on the Moro Struggle in the Philippines E. San Juan, Jr Ethnicities, Sep 2006; vol. 6: pp. 391 - 422.

There are probably studies in other anthro journals from the past 7 years which would shed light, no? Edarrell (talk) 08:58, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

This article used to reference such material, and in my opinion, used to be more balanced, accurate, and informational (i.e. Wikipedian). See this version. Lensim (talk) 15:53, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Can we restore that version instead? That is the version I am talking about. The current article concentrates on the Tasaday being a hoax. Surprisingly, it has only 3 references. The article should present the scientific as well as the political (or hoax if you will) point of view. Gilgal1 (talk) 03:14, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Please do. I have watched this page for some time now and am convinced that said version meets the standards of Wikipedia much better than the current version. You are correct, the current article makes too much of the Tasaday-as-hoax whereas the previous version discusses their history in a balanced fashion, then moves on to provides other encyclopedic facts. Lensim (talk) 15:59, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Previous discussion[edit]

In reference to your page about the Tasaday, it should be pointed out that there are several points made that are factually and provably wrong.

Contrary to your entry, it is now widely accepted in Philippine government that the Tasaday are genuine--in fact, the Philippine Congressional hearing of l987 said in its official conclusion (following four months of public hearings) that "the Tasday are authentic beyond a scintilla of doubt."

President Corazon Acquino a year later told an international conference of tribal leaders that the Tasaday were "nearly victimized" by unscrupulous scholars and businessmen who wanted to obtain the timber and minerals on their goverrnment-proclaimed reservation. Presently, several departments of government list the Tasaday as one of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines and their reservation continues to be recognized as legitimate. The Tasaday remain in the rainforest habitat that has been their home for at least seven generations, as documented in a lengthy study by Philippine anthropoligical geneaologists. As for the entry's remarks about Manuel Elizalde Jr, he could not have fled with millions from Panamin, the government agency he headed, because it did not have millions. In fact, he spent many millions of his own and his familiy's money in support of the Philippine tribes. He returned to the Phlippines in 1987, was not charged with any crimes, white collar or otherwise, and died in 1997 of cancer, not at all destittue. He bequeathed an estate worth millions to his children.

Agreed. Incorporated into text. Lensim 17:44, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

--- For **perhaps** a better view, try:,6109,978741,00.html

"From the outset the Tasaday's true identity had been obscured by private motives, wishful thinking and journalistic labels such as the "stone age" epithet unfortunately used by Nance himself. *They*are*not*a*stone-age*tribe,* ((emphasis supplied)) but a remnant of a much larger group which at some point during the past centuries (not millennia) fled deeper into the forest to escape a measles epidemic that is still part of their folklore. In this way they became isolated long enough for their language to have acquired mutations and for them to have forgotten their farming habits and reverted to hunter-gathering. When they hit the headlines in 1971, the Tasaday were what Lévi-Strauss calls "pseudo-archaics": true marginals, even slightly feral."

Agreed. Incorporated into text. Lensim 17:44, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

--- Based on my research, I actually agree with the minor edits provided by (Tasaday oldid=22216279). I would put them back in, but with references, and I would make them past tense rather than present tense. Lensim 14:53, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Tasaday real, but not stone age.[edit]

The article is wildly inaccurate. The findings of the commission were that the Tasaday were and are a distinct cultural group who lived in semi-isolation, prefering to live separate but retaining trade relationships and modest social contact with other groups. For that reason their legal status as a unique people was rightly upheld. As to the claims of generations of isolation and living a stone age lifestyle, these elements were most certainly fabricated. John Nance, in his book The Gentle Tasaday which brought the story to the world, openly admits that the Tasaday were asked to revert to a previously abandoned "primitive" state for the benefit of outsiders, and they did that in a fashion that was unconvincing. The skirts they wore made of leaves were impractical, almost a parody. There were only two stone tools present, which were mysteriously "lost" before they could be examined by experts. The existing photographs of them show them to be far too crude, more reminiscent of the Flinstsones than reflecting the technologies of a well-adapted forest group, and none of the Tasaday could actually manufacture the tools and did not know how to use them. Although Tasaday didn't grow rice they were well acquainted with and enthusiastic about cooking and consuming cultivated rice; they no doubt traded wild game for it in the past. Their language was not unique but virtually indistinquishable from neighboring Manobo groups. They were, it seems, most likely a somewhat typical upland hunter-gathering, trading, and shifting agricultural group similar culturally to other isolated forest peoples in Mindanao, Palawan and central Luzon, and were convinced to put on a "primitive" facade for an isolated media blitz.

The argument has been obscured by the polarization of each side. The Tasaday were either purely fabricated or purely stone age, when the reality is somewhere in the middle. Proponents of each side have resulted to manipulation of data.

Read The Tasaday Controversy by Thomas Headlund, University of Hawaii.

The Wikipedia article is very careful in its use of the term "Stone Age" as applied to the Tasaday and never directly calls the Tasaday "Stone Age". In fact, the following statement can be found within the article:
"...the term 'Stone Age group' was NOT [emphasis added] an apt descriptor of the Tasaday at the time they met [the outside world]."
In response to your statement:
"As to the claims of generations of isolation and living a stone age lifestyle, these elements were most certainly fabricated."
the Wikipedia article cites credible linguistic and ethnobotanical evidence supporting the following claim, which is taken directly from the Wikipedia article:
"...the Tasaday of the 1970s are now recognized as an authentic group surviving with primitive skills for at least seven generations (over 150 years by the 1970s)..."
In his book "The Gentle Tasaday", John Nance does indeed mention how the Tasaday were made to look more primitive by discarding T-shirts in favor of loincloths, etc. but this public relations maneuver under the auspices of PANAMIN does not erase the Tasaday's earlier history (the Wikipedia article mentions how modern items were acquired by the Tasaday after meeting Dafal circa 1950). A careful re-reading of the Wikipedia article should put you at ease.
BTW, elements of the Headlund [sic] book you speak of have been incorporated into the Wikipedia article, and this work is cited. --Lensim 20:20, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Unscholarly article[edit]

This article is incredibly biased and does no credit to Wikipedia. The issues surrounding the Tasady controversy were analyzed in depth in the American Anthropological Association's 1990 publication (Headland editor). The report was balanced and included the perspectives of Elizalde supporters. This "Version" of the Tasaday phenomenon is distorted towards the Nance/Elizalde position and is useless as a scholarly statement about the Tasaday. The individual making editorial decisions about this page should read the Headland report. (This comment added by · Demi T/C 19:03, 8 February 2006 (UTC))

"Incredibly biased, Unscholarly"!? that in itself is far too biased a statement. The article is clearly well researched, generally quite fair and certainly in agreement with the linguistic evidence which, while admittedly too technical for the casual reader, is beyond doubt. The Tasaday do represent an isolated group who were not practicing agriculture when contacted. An interesting discussion by Lawrence Reid of the linguistic evidence can be found here: . I suggest that when considering this controversy, keep in mind who stands to benefit most. Logging on Mindanao is very, very big business controlled by some very powerful families who were, shall we say, less than happy with being barred from the Tasaday reserve. DHBoggs 19:21, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Scholarly, but not completely aligned with Headland[edit]

Perspectives on the Tasaday are casually grouped into two categories: 1) Nance/Elizalde and 2) Headland. The former is incorrectly taken as unscholarly, while the latter is (just as incorrectly) seen as the one and only scholarly account of the subject. I would like to remind the community that Headland's treatment of the Tasaday controversy is not the only "scholarly" treatment. For truly balanced reading, consult also the relevant works of Lawrence Reid, D.E. Yen and Courtland Smith--all academics. After reading all of this, if one still desires to pit Nance/Elizalde versus Headland, one will find these other scholars' viewpoints falling mainly into the Nance/Elizalde camp. --Lensim 00:17, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

The problem with the article, as it stands, is that it makes definitive statements about issues which are still very much debated. While your analysis above may be correct, the fact remains that Headland is certainly a scholarly account, and one which is still widely accepted (for example, by august institutions such as National Geographic. While the debate continues, it is not the place of Wikipedia to say, "The original hoax claims have been shown bogus and the Tasaday of the 1970s are now recognized as an authentic group surviving with primitive skills for at least seven generations." In this instance, we should be reporting the controversy rather than taking a definitive stance either way. --OpenToppedBus - Talk to the driver 16:36, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Berreman states that The Tasaday were essentially a hoax[edit]

The following standard and authoritative reference should probably be added:

Berreman GD. The Tasaday Controversy. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers. Cambridge Univesrity Press: Cambridge, UK. 1999, pp 457-464.

This author's clearly stated opinion is that the Tasaday claims of the 1970s were a deliberate misrepresentation with intent to deceive: and therefore (by the commonly understood usage of the word) the Tasaday were a hoax.

Other references to the Tasaday throughout the Cambridge Encyclopedia tend to suggest that the Tasaday claims are indeed regarded as a hoax throughout mainstream hunter gatherer anthropology, and indeed that the episode may have had a profoundly demoralizing effect on the discipline.

From an external perspective, the Tasaday episode looks like a fairly standard example of propaganda by a totalitarian regime, which succeeds (for a while) due to the lack of transparency of such societies - this lack of transparency in turn creating further ambiguity and evidential gaps and contradictions which enable the original error to be maintained due to the lack of firm contradictory evidence.

If the Tasaday are real, why are there so many claims to the contrary?[edit]

There's lots of articles on the net talking about the Tasaday fraud. Most of the information in these articles is not really disputed. I stumbled on this article by accident and am really amazed that the fact that it is a hoax is not generally accepted. I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines from October 1970 - June 1972 as a teacher trainer. Sometime shortly before I left I attended a social event in Manila with relatives of my host family. These people were all well educated members of the upper middle class/lower upper class i.e. college educated land owners. Apparently it was pretty common knowledge that the Elizalde family had more or less invented the Tasaday as a way of preventing a rival lumbering family from getting access to the land the Tasaday were suppose to be inhabitting. I can't remember many details of why they thought the whole thing was so funny but there definitely was a lot of laughing. I do remember that there were things about the hoax that they felt the researchers should have picked up on right away (ex linguistic and cultural inconsistencies - using words with a spanish origin, etc.). Apparently they were the remnants of what probably had been a "stone aged tribe" at some point in the not too distant past, but that had been many generations in the past. In fact large parts of the Philippines are populated by peoples who fit this description. There had been a series of devastating typhoons over the previous few years and they had reverted to hunting/gathering in the jungle to keep from starving. They had probably never completely given up hunting-gathering since subsistence farmers in the mountainous areas of the Philippines have it rough even in good years. They were not a people who had occasional contact with the modern world but nearly modern people who had temporarily reverted to a more primitive lifestyle out of necessity. David r fry 05:48, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

The Tasaday have been pretty much proven to be a hoax. It isn't even controversial now.--Susan Nunes 25 June 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Claims to the contrary?[edit]

David, I am glad that you have shown scholarly good practice by citing a dinner party conversation you had with upper middle class landowners to support your position. Could you please add these references to the appropriate sections of the article? More seriously, I urge you to read Robin Hemley's excellent book Invented Eden: The elusive disputed history of the Tasaday. Hemley does a great job of teasing out all the complexities, gossip, politics and hidden motives of all sides of this important controversy. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:00, 4 May 2007 (UTC).


Last year, several fora were held in UP campuses entitled “What’s New About the Tasaday? Implications for Practice in (Public Interest) Anthropology.”

Here's an article from the forum in UP Baguio —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:58, 25 January 2007 (UTC).

unreferenced claims and misinformation[edit]

There are many unreferenced claims in this article. There are also many things that are simply false. I'm going to try to clean up some things that are very misleading. If anyone knows any good references, please point them out. Kborer 13:56, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Let us collaborate, rather than destroy and re-create in our own image. I, among others, worked very hard on the page, both to make it accurate and sourced. What you did is unacceptable. I know the page needs work: inline references, etc. Most Wikipedia pages do. I encourage your tweaks and additions. But please do not destroy the page again. I am reverting your tear-down.
And take note: you say the page contained "many unreferenced claims"; your version contained even less references.
--Lensim 01:22, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

All that can go wrong with Wikipedia was this article. It misled the reader into believing a fantastic lie. I will be happy to work with you to make the article better, but please move forward by adding more referenced information, rather than reverting to the unacceptable state that the article was in. Kborer 01:47, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The article before your edits contained 3 inline references, 6 in the references section, and 3 external links. Your version contains 2 references. Why you think yours is superior I do not know. --Lensim 01:53, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I left some unreferenced claims that I think I will be able to verify, but any editor can challenge those and remove them until I find a source. I think that my version is superior because it contains fewer unreferenced claims, and does not try to convince anyone that the hoax was true. Kborer 02:23, 29 June 2007 (UTC)


Thats great and all, but the way i see it is that we should present a non biased article that is read as information. Just so happens the hoax is disputed, and personally it could be either way. If you take the time to look into it, and read some books about it (theirs a couple!) it makes you think.. The Tasaday's are an interesting story, its still a big debate. I Actually hope it was a hoax, just think of the lives, traditions and culture we would have destroyed if they where the opposite. Their are tons of media reports like the one above, but they, most of them, like that one, are loosely based on what happened and merely what the media interpreted (which we know isn't always too good). Go to your library, take out some books and research the topic if you seriously want a unbiased view. Lovebus 14:12, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
Please cite the books you are referring to. Until the majority of evidence suggests that the caveman theory is the dominant opinion, we should use the hoax centric version of the page with claims to the contrary as a subsection. Kborer (talk) 13:07, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Reid's linguistic evidence against the hoax hypothesis[edit]

While doing research on Tagalog web resources, I came across Lawrence Reid's writings on the Tasaday, which indicate that while there was a hoax, the Tasaday were indeed much (though not completely) as they were originally described. I have added a paragraph to Controversy to summarize his conclusions and link to his U. of Hawai`i web page and his 1994 paper.

  • (The link from the web page to his Tasaday web site behaves strangely in Firefox 3.5.2, opening only as a downloadable document, and you have to manually edit the links on it to get to other pages. It works properly in Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702. And I'm not an MSIE fan!)

--Thnidu (talk) 20:16, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

haha, I'm getting the same problem in firefox too! I just ignored it though, but now I'm half curious as to what is the reason?! Mathmo Talk 16:25, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Lawrence Reid[edit]

I recently had the opportunity to meet Dr. Lawrence Reid at a Austronesian symposium in Taiwan and showed him the Tasaday controversy link along with your discussion comments. I have pasted his comments below.

"The "Controversy" site makes reference to one of my papers, but is misleading because of the comments about the data I got from Belayem. I found, as I state in the paper, that even though I originally thought that he was fabricating data, I found around 300 of his forms were actually used in Kulaman Valley Manobo, that he had never visited and didn't even know about.

Some of the details that I provide in my website (currently undergoing revision) would also be useful... This is what I say there:

The Tasaday Controversy. In 1988, while attending a conference in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, I had the opportunity to sit in on a symposium which focused on the Tasaday, a small group of people living in the rain forests of South Cotabato, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. When reports about them first appeared in the early 1970’s, claims were made that they had been completely isolated for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, and that they were still living a stone-age existence in caves, unaware of the presence of agriculturalists less than half a day’s walk away across a steep mountain ridge. Several prominent anthropologists claimed at the symposium that the group was a hoax perpetrated to enhance the political fortunes of a prominent Filipino businessman and (at that time) a member of President Ferdinand Marcos’ cabinet. Other presenters vigorously claimed the authenticity of the group.

I decided to attempt to throw light on the controversy by examining the language used by the Tasaday. Between 1993 and 1996, I spent a total of approximately 10 months with them and surrounding linguistic groups, and have come to the conclusion that the Tasaday probably were as isolated as they claim, that they were indeed unfamiliar with agriculture, that their language was a different dialect from that spoken by the closest neighboring group, and that there was no hoax perpetrated by the original group that reported their existence. The length of their isolation however was probably in the range of 5-10 generations, not in the thousands of years. (A34, A41, A42)

Some of my work on the Tasaday, along with transcriptions of cave tapes, and other materials appears in my Tasaday website (W1, W2). A recent book by award-winning author, Robin Hemley, Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), provides a very readable account of the hoax controversy, including summary statements of the linguistic evidence for their authenticity. Probably the most useful thing would be to give the URL to my Tasaday website that contains my transcription and translation of some of the tapes that were made in the caves (connected to audio files) when Elizalde first visited them. Also the site contains my paper in which I analyze the information that can be garnered from the tapes which support the fact that there was no hoax involved. Of course the primary evidence is linguistic, and this is provided in my other papers." √ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tvarhalamas (talkcontribs) 07:19, 10 November 2009 (UTC)


This article is proposed to be merged with the article Tasaday. For merge discussion please state your support/opposition here at Talk:Tasaday#MERGE PROPOSAL DISCUSSION. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Astepintooblivion (talkcontribs) 04:01, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Merged --A Step Into Oblivion (talk) 11:15, 26 December 2010 (UTC)