Philippines’ Local Extremes: Revisited!

Once upon a time I created a handful of Local Filipino Extremes. It is anybody and anything that made it to the top of the world’s best polar extreme lists of something. I created this list something like 10 years ago and put it on my blog, forgotten it and went on with my life’s own adventure.

For some reason, I revisited it. Just like life that would bring you back to some footprints you left behind, only to find-out it was fun revisiting things. Nevertheless, facts and figures may not be factually at par by the time you are reading this as this list is more than a decade late.

So, my disclaimer for any factoids you may read. A little due diligence is advised as we begin with our list.


1. University Of San Carlos (Cebu)

University Of San Carlos in Cebu is considered as the oldest university in the Philippines and in Asia. It was said to have been established in August 1, 1595 by the Spanish Jesuits and was formerly known as Colegio De San Ildefonso.

Now, this establishment  is said to be even older than University of Santo Tomas in Manila which was established in 1611, although UST wants to contest this title. And also older than Harvard University in the US which was established in 1636.

UST, as formerly known Colegio De Nuestra Señora Del Rosario, was however the first school to become a university in 1645. USC became a university in 1948. UST contested that the original and former USC was closed in 1769 when the Jesuits were expelled and sent back to Spain or deported to Italy. USC was reopened in 1983 as a seminary.


2. Oldest Vice

Nganga” for short is said to have been the oldest vice in the Philippines – and not smoking. Nganga is the process of incessantly chewing a betel nut or Areca nut (“Buyo” as I knew it). Filipinos or native Filipinos rather, have been nuts about this nut for over 3,000 years as historians point out.

The process of getting started with this vice is a betel nut leaf, the nut itself and a lime (known as “apug”). The nut and the lime are wrapped in the leaf before it gets masticated for countless minutes inside a nganga veterans mout.

More about Betel Nut Chewing in the Philippines ➤


3. World’s Largest Shoes

It was in 2002 when The Guiness Book of World Records recognized Marikina’s Largest Shoes to the top of the list. Each shoe measures 5.5 meters (18.2 feet) long, 2.25 meters (7.4 feet) wide and 1.83 meters (6 feet) in height. The heels for the record are 16 inches thick – how do you like to be running in that for normal shoes?

The materials used in the production are said to have been the same materials in producing normal commercial shoe sizes which can produce 250 pairs of it. This pair of show-offs is pitched to around P1.2 million and took more than 2 months to produce. The sheer size can fit 30 normal feet in it. The shoes are now displayed inside a commercial shoe center in Riverbanks, Marikina City.

Source: GMA Network

4. Sili King

Eriberto Gonzales is the man behind this locally hailed title – “Sili King.” Eriberto hailed from Camalig, Albay Philippines. He won the title after chomping up 350 pieces of Siling Labuyo, scientifically named capsicum frutescens linn, one of the hottest pepper species native to the Philippines, Carolina Reaper being the hottest on earth.

A wired message was sent to the provincial government from the Guiness Book Of World Records hailing Eriberto to the title of being the fastest man to eat 350 pieces of siling labuyo in just 3 minutes. The feat was done on May 26 during the annual Magayon Festival held annually in the same month.

As to what Eriberto is up to now and his whereabouts, I could just wonder. Further story about him here ➤


5. Best Finance Officer

Fixing the Philippine’s taxation, a Cabinet Secretary, a World Bank senior officer and rallying DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) as the “second soundest bank” in the world heralded Roberto De Ocampo as “World’s Finest Finance Officer”. He was as well studded as “Man Of The Year Award“ by the Association of Development Finance Institutions in the Asia-Pacific (ADFIAF) in 1997.

This could be a small step for a man with really profound impact in the local as well as the international economy at large.

Source: PhilNews

6. The World’s Sweetest Fruit

It isn’t just about the sweetness, it’s the deliciously sweet goodness found in our locally hailed mango variety known as Guimaras Mango or Mangifera Indica. Guimaras mango is a variety of our locally known Carabao Mango.

Although there are many known varieties of mango in the world, none of them comes close to the taste of our own – such that, in 1995 Guinness Book of World Record heralded Carabao Mango as the world’s sweetest fruit.

In the Philippines, although mango only ranks third in the production next to pineapple and banana, it is still the sought after palette teaser in most holidays and special occasions for salads and desserts.

Production wise during the record in 1995, the Philippines produced more than 400,000 metric tons of mangoes with an average production of 6.35 metric tons per hectare. That translates to 250 kilograms per tree from a total production area of more than 68,000 hectares.

Source: GMA News

7. World’s Largest Legal Tender

The 1998 Philippine Centennial Celebration brought out the World’s Largest legal tender – a dispensable paper bill with financial and monetary value regardless of its size. The biggest paper bill serves as a commemorative token celebrating the 100th Year Of The Philippine Independence from 1898 to 1998.

The bill’s specifics are 81/2 inches wide and 14 inches long. It is also littered with over 20 different security codes to foolproof against counterfeiting. Though it is printed by Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as legal tender, it is never meant to be commercially circulated as only 1,000 pieces of it have been printed.

Both sides of the paper bill illustrates the rise and fall of the heroes behind Philippine independence. The bill is also touted as Brobdingnagian bills due to its sheer size.

8. World’s Largest Christmas Lantern

Pampanga in the Philippines holds the record for having the largest Christmas lantern in town and in the world. On December 24, 2002 Guinness BOWR called out the province for switching on the world’s largest lit Christmas Lantern. The Lantern spans 26.8 meters in diameter. Towers 20 feet from the ground coupled with a towering budget and subsidy of P5 million pesos.

Source: BSP

9. World’s Best Banker

Rafael Carlos Buenaventura is a heroic figure during one of the Philippines’ most trying economic plight. In October 2002, Rafael was named by Global Finance magazine as one of the two world’s “Best Central Bankers“, Ian MacFarlane being the other guy. All these because he has skillfully paddled the canoe of Philippine economy to survive troubled waters of economic downturns during his time. He has served under two presidential terms – former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo.


10. Oldest City In Town

Cebu City is known to the oldest city in the Philippines and touted as the “Queen City Of The South”, and once known to be the first capital of the Philippines. Cebu was the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565.

Cebu is located in the Central Visayas region, comprising Cebu Island and more than 150 smaller surrounding islands and islets, making her a tourism magnet. Besides natural beauty, Cebu houses a potpourri of culture, modernity, infrastructure and the viral YouTube sensation – The Cebu Dancing Inmates! ➤

11. Oldest Hospital

Nothing is older in town than the San Lazaro Hospital according to the Pampango Historian Zoilo Galang. The San Lazaro Hospital was established 1578 by Fr. Juan Clemente, a Spanish priest. The other old hospitals in the list are Enfermeria De Naga, 1583 and Hospital De San Juan De Dios, 1596.

San Lazaro Hospital is known as a dispensary for leprosy and other infectious diseases up until now. However, patients with leprosy are housed at Tala Leprosarium which is now Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.

Source: Way To Famous

12. Leaf Musician

Levi Celerio rings a bell in this citation. He was called out by Guinness BOWR as “the only person in the world who can play music with a leaf, and that person is from the Philippines.”

Celerio as a National Artist, has written more or less, 4,000 songs and that includes some of our dearly beloved folk songs as “Ang Pipit”, “Itik-Itik”, “Ako Ay May Singsing”, “Waray-Waray”, Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.” Some others include “Ikaw”, “Kahit Konting Pagtingin”, “Saan Ka Man Naroroon?”

History has it that Levi Celerio has learnt to play music with a leaf under duress from Japanese soldiers where he is forced to prove himself as a musician in prompto. After he had proven himself, he was left unscatched.



Author's Corner

Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common clay. I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the larger day. From the wildness of my wasted passion I had struck a better, clearer song, Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled with some Hydra-headed wrong. – Oscar Wilde

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