Monday, October 22, 2012

How Did Ferdinand Magellan Discover the Philippines

imageWhen the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, they discovered a distinct and advanced civilization in our country. According to Philippine historians, it was Ferdinand Magellan who discovered the islands of the Philippines. His discovery resulted to Spanish colonization in our country for 333 years. In this article, I will provide information how Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, and its effects to our us.

The coming of the Spaniards to the Philippines was not an accident. In my readings, there were three reasons of their expedition:

  • First, the Spaniards were looking for an alternated route to the east. This route will help them for a faster travel to reach other countries.
  • Second, it was the age of discovery. This age of discovery was a period when European nations like Spain wants to discover lands, spices, and gold.
  • Third, Spain wants to make their territory bigger. They also used the cross (Christianity) to spread their colony.

How about Ferdinand Magellan?

He was a Portuguese explorer who led the Spanish expedition. He was also the first European who reached the Philippines. When the major trade routes were closed, he thought that the Western Route can be used. So he offered his service to the king of Portugal. However, he was turned down because his idea was impossible according to the king. So Magellan went to the king of Spain, and he was welcomed warmly by the king. Seeing an opportunity. he supported Magellan’s idea. He was financially supported, and he was given 5 ships that he would used for the expedition. On September 20, 1519, he sailed off with hundreds of men to seek out new territory for the Spanish government.

During his voyage, he encountered problems like sea sickness, shipwrecked, and mutiny. After 5 – 6 months of unbearable problems, they reached the ‘island of robbers’. This place is known as the Marianas Islands. The reason why it was called ‘island of robbers’ was because the natives of the islands robbed their goods while searching of food on the island. Ten days after, on March 16, 1521, the Spanish expedition reached Homonhon Island, Samar. He called the island “Isla San Lazaro” in honor of St. Lazaro. Magellan was able to communicate with the natives through Enrique of Malacca, his personal slave. The natives accepted them and they were given food and water. After they rested,they sailed off and landed on Limasawa. They were met by Rajah Kulambo and Rajah Siagu. They had a blood compact as symbol of their friendship. On March 31, 1521, the Spaniards celebrated the first Catholic Mass. The mass was led by Father Pedro Valderama.

Rajah Kolambu helped Magellan to reached Cebu Island. This Island was ruled by Rajah Humabon. Rajah Humabon, his wife, and his people accepted Christianity and agreed to baptize. Both of them were given Christian names, and an image of Sto. Nino was also given as a symbol of peace between the Spaniards and natives. On April 14, 1521, a wooden cross was erected in Cebu as a symbol of his conquest. It is known as the Magellan’s cross.

While in Cebu, a leader named Lapu-lapu of Mactan refused to recognize the Spanish authority. On April 27, 1521, Magellan with his men fought Lapu-lapu. The battle became bloody, and Magellan was killed. Contrary to the story, it was not Lapu-lapu who killed Magellan. According to Pigafetta’s journal, Magellan got hit on the right leg of an arrow. When they were about to retreat, Lapu-lapu’s men caught them up and Magellan was hacked to death.

Meanwhile, the other survivors returned to Cebu but they were killed by Humabon. Only the ship of Victoria made it back to Spain. It arrived in Spain on September 6, 1522. Today, the battle of Mactan is the first Filipino resistance against the foreign invaders, and Lapu-lapu was hailed the first Philippine hero.

The discovery of Magellan may have ended with his death, but he was applauded and honored for proving that the earth is round. After his discovery in the Philippines, the Spanish government became more interested in our country. There were five expeditions sent by the Spanish government, but only one was successful. It was known as Legazpi’s expedition. It resulted to the colonization of the Spanish government for 333 years, and the spreading of Roman Catholicism in our country.

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