Conspiracy Theory: Does the Province of Quirino Actually Exist?

One theory claims it’s an imaginary province.

There are a lot of strange entries on Wikipedia, but one of the strangest has to be the Bielefeld conspiracy. In a nutshell, it states that Bielefeld, a city in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of  Germany, doesn’t actually exist. 

It all started with a post in a usenet group (an early community on the internet) in 1994. A man named Achim Held poked fun at a student who introduced himself as coming from the town of Bielefeld. Held joked that he didn’t believe the student and suggested that the town itself isn’t real. The post soon spread and people latched on to the conspiracy, even decades after it first surfaced. 

If you think that’s strange, here’s the even weirder part: apparently, there’s a local version of Bielefeld and the unfortunate receiver of this conspiracy is the province of Quirino.

Like Bielefeld, proponents of this theory ask three fundamental questions to support their thesis:

1| Have you ever been to Quirino?

2| Do you know anybody from Quirino?

3| Do you know anybody who has ever been to Quirino?

The assumption is that most people would answer no, and for some people, that’s more than enough proof that the province itself doesn’t exist. And when somebody answers yes to any of the questions, believers would just claim that the person is in on the sham. 

Imaginary Province

The definitive conspiracy theory about Quirino was posted on Reddit two years ago. In the post, u/yeontura claimed that it was former President Elpidio Quirino’s idea to attempt a lasting legacy “by creating an imaginary province for himself.”

[Series] What do you know about the province of Quirino? from r/Philippines

“After approaching the SIE, the German agency which had created Bielefeld, for help, Quirino scouted areas for his imaginary province, and ended up with the parts of Nueva Vizcaya he had reorganized back then,” u/yeontura wrote. “He had to convince Congress to help him, but the Nacionalista-dominated body ignored him, until his loss to Magsaysay in 1953.” 

The plan would have been forgotten if Ferdinand Marcos hadn't won as President in 1965. Marcos supposedly made the Quirino project a priority in Congress, which was controlled by his fellow Nacionalistas. Quirino initially became a “sub-province” under Nueva Vizcaya, and became a full-fledged province in 1971. 

“Because the area was so remote, inaccessible and unknown to most Filipinos, they did not notice the sham and learned about the so-called “province” through geography classes, maps, and government-controlled media, and the situation worsened under Martial Law,” u/yeontura claimed. “The supposed funds for the ‘province’ were then used by Marcos and his cronies to have a lavish lifestyle.”

To top it all off, the conspiracy claims that succeeding presidents have looked the other way and perpetuated the sham allegedly because they used the province’s internal revenue allotment or budget for their own vices or pet projects. 

If all this sounds too bizarre and incredible to be true, that’s because it is. Quirino, of course, is an actual province in the Cagayan Valley in eastern Luzon, bordering Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Aurora. Its population is just under 200,000 and its capital is Cabarroguis. The province is currently led by Governor Dakila Carlo Cua and is represented in Congress by Junie Cua. 

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That an entire province just doesn’t exist is a tantalizing thought, but this is one conspiracy theory that we can debunk with absolute certainty.

Or can we?

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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