Yoyoy Villame first sang in 1972, about how on March 16, 1521 the Philippines was discovered by Portuguese explorer (leading a Spanish expedition) Ferdinand Magellan. It is now March 16, 2021, or 500 years to the day that this European expedition looking for the Moluccas by sailing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans found the archipelago that Spain would colonize for the next three centuries and more. While this period was a mixed bag of economic and technological advances plus the Christian faith, and the Indio treatment enabled by some government officials and friars, now the memories are fond enough that the Philippines and Spain can celebrate the historic event jointly.
This is, as related by Business World Online, done by having the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano stop at certain islands of the Philippines starting this March 16 and over the next few days. The Elcano, a four-masted sailing ship built in 1928, is itself commemorating the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe, as started in 1520 by Ferdinand Magellan. Of course, he was killed in Mactan in 1521; but the survivors of his expedition carried on to the Moluccas and then return to Spain under the command of Elcano, whose name this ship bears.
If the ship Elcano has kept to its timetable, then as of this Tuesday it has already stopped offshore of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Up until March 18 it will anchor off of the islands of Suluan and Homonhon, then sail to Cebu. From March 20 to 22 the Elcano will dock at the estimated coordinates recorded in the chronicles of Magellan’s expedition, written by Antonio Pigafetta, to commemorate the introduction of Christianity in Cebu, and the unfortunate battle of Mactan. The Philippine stops on the Elcano’s voyage were arranged for by the Departments of National Defense and Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Spanish Embassy.
During the passage of the Spanish training ship, on land the National Historical Commission of the Philippines will uncover new historical markers commemorating the specific events of Magellan’s voyage through the Philippines, scattered all over the Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan. The Spanish Embassy will also hold commemorative events running from April to June. Due to COVID-19 however, plans for the Elcano crew to disembark at Magellan’s landing points, and for visitors to board the ship, have been scrapped for safety.
Already the Roman Catholic Church has commemorated the five centuries of the faith in the Philippines, when Pope Francis led a mass at the Vatican this past Sunday, March 14.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News