Sunday, 16 March 2008

Discovery of the Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The province of Eastern Samar commemorated the 487th anniversary of Magellan landing in the Philippines, particularly at the island of Humumu (as mentioned by Pigafetta in his chronicle), now called the island of Homonhon in the municipality of Guiuan.

While there is a controversy as to where the first mass in the Philippines was held, there is no debate as to where Ferdinand Magellan had first set foot in the country.

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who led the first successful expedition around the world.

He was born in 1480, and he came to the Philippines when he was 41, and died in Mactan Island, Cebu, in April of 1521.

Every Filipino student knows the significance of March 16, 1521, the date when Magellan "discovered" the Philippines, as was taught in school.

Yet throughout the years no grand and nationwide celebration has been observed to commemorate the date, except that which is celebrated in the province of Eastern Samar. But the event has great significance and must therefore be given more importance and attention, according to the Philippine Information Agency here.

As historian Agoncillo wrote, it was through Magellan expedition that the Europeans first learned of the existence of the Philippines. It was the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe, and Magellan was with a native Filipino, Enrique or Panglima Awang.

The Magellan expedition also proved that the earth is round, not flat, as was popularly believed then. It established the International Dateline, that one "gains" a day when traveling from west to east and "loses" a day when traveling from east to west.

For SamareƱos and Eastern Visayas, Magellan landing at Homonhon, showed one and all the fact that Samar and the Philippines, already had a structured society and a culture of its own. As Pigafetta wrote, "their seignior was an old man who was painted. He wore two gold earrings in his ears and the others, many gold armlets on their arms and kerchiefs about their heads...They have very black hair that falls to the waist, and use daggers, knives, and spears ornamented with gold, large shields, fascines, javelins and fishing nets that resemble rizali and their boats are like ours."

On March 16, 2008, four hundred eighty seven years after Magellan landed at the tiny island of Homonhon, a Mass, re-enactment and commemorative program will be held at the Magellan Landing site.

The so-called site is at Pagbabangnan where the big rock which serves as the marker, remains intact, a silent witness to the historic event which took place hundreds of years ago. A Magellan’s Cross, though no longer the original, is also found there (there is one in Cebu) and the spring (now called Magellan Spring) where Magellan and his men drank many years ago continues to provide clear water.
Also read the Inquirer's report on the Samar's claim to history.

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