This Underrated Podcast Reveals Unsung Tales from Philippine History

It’s not at all like history class.

The history of the Philippines boasts countless narratives, although not all of them get time in the spotlight. These pieces of history get buried somewhere in the abyss of ancient documents and accounts. So what happens to them? That’s where The Colonial Dept comes in.  

Created by editor, writer, and history buff Lio Mangubat, this podcast uncovers lost tales from the Philippine colonial period, offering a new perspective of the era. This well-produced audio show, which was born from the initial idea to write a book, takes an immersive approach by painting a picture of historical events with sound.

This is Mangubat's second history podcast, the first being Occupy Pilipinas, which was done in partnership with his day job at Summit Books. 

"But I wanted to take it independent, so after eight or nine episodes of Occupy Pilipinas, I decided to do it all on my own as The Colonial Dept," said Mangubat of his passion project. 


The Colonial Dept promises a cinematic experience as listeners will hear the pounding of horse hooves as carriages are described and even full-on gunshots as a gruesome war is narrated. Along with the gripping stories comes a mix of different kinds of background music, from an orchestra of electric guitars to soft cymbals and trumpets. The production gives history a new lease on life on the Spotify platform.

"I try to keep it as fun and cinematic as I can, which is why I spend so much time obsessing over the musical choices, the sound effects, and the way I present the story so it's more cinematic," explained Mangubat. 

The show’s tales are unlike anything you'd learn in a regular history class. One of the episodes digs into the story of the mysterious three Mandarins and how their search for gold escalated into a rebellion. Another unearths the tale of Jewish refugee Frank Ephraim and his stay in Manila. There’s also an episode about baseball’s golden age in the Philippines. 

Mangubat chooses which stories to spotlight depending on the materials that are readily available, as the editor, now podcaster, tries to do justice to each untold story. 

"I also try to keep a balance," shared Mangubat. "The show covers the very long colonial period from 1565 to 1946, and I want to try and make sure that interesting stories from each century and each era is covered."

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“There are so many little-known episodes from Philippine history that are very interesting and cinematic and entertaining. History, by definition, has the power to transport you to a different time altogether, and I think that's what I want to achieve with my little episodes,” said Mangubat.

His underrated podcast provides a way for Philippine history buffs and curious minds to discover colonial-era stories. To hear more historical narratives, listen to The Colonial Dept on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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