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Close Encounters of the Ancient Kind

If you are out-and-about on the Manila entertainment scene, you may have noticed that the metro is no stranger to an affection for all-things geeky. Yes, Manila has certainly been bitten by the Geek Bug,

Manic in Manila

If you are out-and-about on the Manila entertainment scene, you may have noticed that the metro is no stranger to an affection for all-things geeky. Yes, Manila has certainly been bitten by the Geek Bug, big time. From quiz nights at board game cafés and pop culture conventions at massive venues, to serious cosplaying, LARPing (live action role playing) and gaming events, the city is abuzz with geekery. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have always been fascinated with the ins and outs of Geekdom; and, while it would be pretentious of me to say that I am hardcore into it, I am gung-ho enough about it to call myself a fan.

One geek-wise aspect that has intrigued me ever since I can remember is this: are we alone in the Universe? While the query is as straightforward as they come, the answer is far from simple. The topic has, in fact, sparked heated debate, and generated equal amounts of attention and ridicule through the years. It is a subject that is as hotly contested as it is passionately defended, depending on which side of the polarizing proposition you stand.

Imagine, then, my delight to have had 10 minutes to chat with non-other than the alien expert himself, Ancient Astronaut theorist, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos at the recently concluded HISTORY Convention 2018.

Paradigm shift

As the authority on the theory of Ancient Aliens (and the host of the long-running HISTORY channel show of the same name), Tsoukalos’ brain is a goldmine of information on the subject. The crux of the matter is the idea that Ancient Astronauts (or Ancient Aliens), intelligent extraterrestrial beings, visited the earth in prehistoric times – and that their direct contact with humans influenced cultures across the globe, and even altered human DNA, itself. Those who uphold this theory believe that humanity is descended (some would say created) from this otherworldly lineage.

Tsoukalos says that in recent years, the “blinders of humanity are coming off” and that more and more people are embracing the idea that our civilization may not be the only one there is. The first thing I wanted to know was what caused this change of perspective.

True, these days, reality is often so absurd that it is difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction – maybe that’s why we are more open to an idea as eye-popping as this one. But Tsoukalos credits it primarily to the spirit of this age.

“Generally, as a society, we have become more open-minded – entertainment has helped to develop this open-mindedness. Science fiction is a part of our history, and shows like Ancient Aliens, for example, give us insight into how this idea resonates with the general audience around the world. So, something IS going on… we’ve struck a chord. It’s a paradigm shift, the zeitgeist,” he explains.

Founded on fact

But, as important a role as science fiction has played (and continues to play) in humanity’s eyes being opened to the possibilities of our Ancient Alien ancestry, the theory is founded on fact, not fiction.

“The Ancient Astronaut theory is not founded on merely one avenue of research, but is a collection of different avenues of research,” Tsoukalos points out. “You have ancient textual references, artifacts, objects, figurines, carvings, and you have the oral traditions – and you also then have the gigantic ancient monuments. None of which, by the way, were built by aliens. These were all built by human beings, under the tutelage and with the knowledge imparted by Ancient Astronauts. All ancient cultures a minimum of 2,000 years old were visited by extraterrestrials – and the evidence is everywhere in these cultures. In many forms.”

“For instance, ancient Egyptian texts talk of the ‘Guardians of the Sky’ and the ‘Watchers’ – because they did not have the vocabulary to say extraterrestrials. They refer to the Cosmic Egg that flew through the emptiness of space,” Tsoukalos adds.

Hollywood, Schmollywood

During our brief interview, I ask how far apart the Hollywood take on aliens is from the reality of things. “Galaxies. The depiction is galaxies apart,” Tsoukalos replies to my query. As important as science fiction has been in opening our minds to the infinite possibilities of the Universe – no, the multiverse – and life forms across that expanse, Tsoukalos points out that that there is a vast difference between Hollywood and the real deal.

“The idea that I propose is that we are the offspring of Ancient Aliens. So, they’re not just going to show up 10,000 years later and wipe everyone out. I love sci-fi movies with alien invasions, but that’s just pure entertainment, really.”

At this point, my 10 minutes with Tsoukalos are up. But not until he throws in some tidbits about the Cargo Cult principle in anthropology and how this has impacted the way humans view technologically superior beings.


“Last two minutes,” his assistant reminds me. I take the opportunity to show Tsoukalos a photo of a hammered silver belt worn by members of the 4,000-year-old Miao tribe in Guizhou, China. Four-or-some years ago, I was part of a media junket across China’s provinces and inner sacred cities, one of which was the Miao village in the heart of the mountainous region seven hours from the ancient Zhen Yuan River. A photojournalist I was with snapped the picture and, back at the hotel, sent me a close-up of the detailing: Ancient Alien beings with human torsos, alien heads, and horse legs, marching across the landscape.

“Get out!” Tsoukalos exclaims in sheer delight, takes a photo of my photo, and hastily scribbles the details of the tribe.

Even the expert is amazed. Which goes to show us all – no matter what our beliefs may be – that there’s still a whole lot of mystery the world holds for those who are willing to take a closer, more curious look.


Photos by ANDIE D. SYYAP