In Photo: Ancient Aliens host Giorgio Tsoukalos (fourth from left) with History celebrities pose for a wacky shot during the press conference.

It’s hard not to single out Ancient Aliens host Giorgio Tsoukalos from the powerhouse of History Channel celebrities at the recently held History Convention 2018 (HCon) at the World Trade Center in Pasay. The guy’s popularity, after all, has spanned across 13 widely viewed seasons and a number of pop-culture references, including the famous “aliens” meme from way back in 2009.

The convention center was almost at full capacity at the opening of the three-day show and the media conference room was packed with reporters eager to score an interview with the 40-year-old Swiss TV personality, who returned to Manila for the second time since the first staging of HCon in the country in 2016. During the panel interview, Tsoukalos’s candid demeanor started to show as he eagerly and enthusiastically answered questions from the press about his hypotheses on the existence of ancient astronauts and his exclusive HCon live talk, titled “Mysteries of the Past.”

“The last time I was here, the questions were,

‘Are there any mysteries here in the Philippines?’

and many reporters and journalists have helped me in my quest so I’m back and I’m bringing information about ancient aliens’ mystery in your country,” Tsoukalos said.

He added, “I wanted to say that I was at the National Anthropology Museum the other day and all of you should pay it a visit because, in my opinion, it is one of the greatest museums in the planet. Go to that museum and look at the different references of ancient flying horses, creatures that can turn from

an animal to a human being and all ancient aliens-related ideas.”

In an interview with BusinessMirror two years ago, the Ancient Aliens host recounted that his fascination with primordial species started with bedtime stories told to him by his grandmother. This childhood fascination grew into a profession when he chaired Legendary Times, the world’s leading ancient-astronaut journal. To date, he is the consulting producer of Ancient Aliens.

In 1998 Tsoukalos cofounded the AASRA (Archaeology, Astronautics, and SETI Research Association) with Erich von Däniken, purveyor and proponent of the “paleo-contact” hypotheses. Tsoukalos and Daniken’s ideas put forth extraterrestrial influences on early human culture. Because of criticisms regarding their claims as pseudoscience, Tsoukalos remains open for discourse and discussion on the subject matter.

“Generally, as a society, we are now more open-minded. Entertainment has helped develop this open-mindedness. Science fiction is part of our history. Ancient Aliens, for example, just shows how it resonates with the general audience around the world. The fact that we are on our 13th season is tremendous because it shows that we’ve struck a chord,” said Tsoukalos.

A common position of the Ancient Astronaut Theory is that deities from most, if not all, religions are extraterrestrial in origin, and that advanced technologies brought to Earth by ancient astronauts were interpreted as evidence of divine status by early humans.

Tsoukalos explained, “According to that theory, all of us right now already have extraterrestrial genes. Its main idea is that a long time ago, the heavens opened and the extraterrestrial descended and they changed our DNA with a direct artificial mutation of our DNA and this is how we became homo-sapiens. We have a long history in the evolutionary fossil record that exists—I have never denied evolution because clearly there is a fossil record—however 250 thousand years ago, when homo-sapiens appeared they have a certain brain size. But within 50 thousand years, our brain tripled and according to Darwinian evolution, 50 thousand years is too short of a time period for that to happen and we became homo-sapiens to sapiens. That’s something even Darwin could not explain. To this day, geneticists and scientists are unsure what the missing link is. In my opinion, the missing link is the intervention by ancient astronauts.”

On the other hand, we looked agape at the powerful shield-maiden Lagertha, who is portrayed by Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick in the Norse mythology series Vikings.

Dressed in an all-black ensemble, Winnick reflected the same regal bearing of the Viking queen during the same press panel interview where she was seated next to Tsoukalos.

Lagertha was, according to legend, the onetime wife of the famous Viking hero and ruler Ragnar Lodbrok. The Viking queen’s tale is recorded in passages in the ninth book of the Gesta Danorum, a 12th-century work of Danish history by the Christian historian Saxo Grammaticus. Saxo’s account tells of the bravery of Lagertha in the brothel fighting Swedish King Frø during the invasion of Norway and helping Ragnar in countless civil wars. Here, she was described as “a woman with the courage of a man who fought fearlessly.”

“Originally, since History has a predominantly male audience, they told me my character was only going to last two seasons—that I was going to get killed off. But of course, I’m pretty stubborn and I was like ‘Nah, nah, nah.’ So cut to me fighting for Lagertha and giving her voice and working with the writer, Michael Herst. Working with him in creating a character that’s not only strong but also vulnerable and relatable, I truly feel that Lagertha is ahead of her time alongside women of strength during those days. I think she also speaks to a lot of working women today who juggle not only work but family life,” shared Winnick, while retelling the story on how she booked the role in her living room off a self-tape.

Winnick’s portrayal of the Viking queen has earned her recognitions, including a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Performance by Lead Dramatic Actress.

According to Winnick, much are in store for fans for the sixth season, where she will be directing an episode. Unfortunately, no spoilers were spilled about what will happen now that the characters are in Silk Road trading with the Russians.

When asked what her favorite part is in portraying the role of Queen Lagertha, the actress said, “I can’t answer what my favorite part is; I’m just blessed to be here right now six years later.”

In addition to her joining the HCon, Winnick also flew to the Philippines in search for a private vacation. “I’ve been invited to History Con for a few years and I just finished directing an episode in Vikings, so I was supposed to be going on a break. Just preparing for my next role, I wanted to take the summer off and travel the Philippines and Asia. Unfortunately, I have to cut the trip short because I have a new TV series coming up on Tuesday in Vancouver. I’ve always heard about how beautiful Philippines is. Being Canadian-American, it’s not really on top of people’s list because people always talk about Bali and Singapore, but it wasn’t until my sister came here last year that she told me her favorite destination was the Philippine island. So I was like, ‘I need to come; I need to see these beautiful beaches and these beautiful islands.’ I already visited El Nido and Siquijor, and I got the chance to do a cross-province trip and spend some time with the locals. I had some great coconuts and the best seafood I tasted in my life—the best little scallops and the most amazing shrimps. I’m going back to America to tell everyone to visit your country because it’s stunning.”