500 years later, PH to mark the first circumnavigation route done by Magellan

Part of the commemoration activities is the unveiling of 34 historical markers made by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines

Today, the Philippines commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world. 

According National Quincentennial Committee (NQC), the event will be highlighted by activities that will begin in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and will close in Sarangani Island, town of Sarangani, Davao Occidental on October 28. 

NQC was created in 2018 through an Executive Order to serve as the committee that will oversee the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan, the Philippine part in the first circumnavigation of the world, and other related events, collectively known as the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines.

According to NQC, a significant part of this first circumnavigation of the world happened in the Philippines, between March 16 and October 28, 1521, when some of the events occurred during Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in the Philippines.

Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, is credited for the first circumnavigation of the world when he set sail with five ships and a crew of 270 men on September 20, 1519 from the port of Spain, reached America and the Philippines (1521), and returned to Spain.  Magellan himself died during the tumultuous three year voyage, with Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano completing the journey from the Phillipines back to Spain with a final crew of only 18 men in 1522. 

NQC said when Magellan first set foot in the country, the event “underscored the compassion of our ancestors toward the starving and undernourished crew on meeting them in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; the blood compact between the expedition’s captain-general Ferdinand Magellan and Rajah Colambu, as well as the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection in Limasawa, Southern Leyte; the Christian baptism in Cebu; and the Battle of Mactan.”

Part of the commemoration activities is the unveiling of 34 historical markers made by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, with the support of the NQC. 

The quincentennial historical markers come with a special pedestal featuring a relief depicting the episode of the expedition in a particular site, based on the sketches of muralist Derrick Macutay and executed in dust marble relief by sculptors Jonas Roces and Francis Apiles.

The markers also feature a globe as a finial to symbolize the first voyage around the world of humankind through the Magellan-Elcano expedition which further confirmed that the Earth was indeed round. 

According to NCQ, the NHCP ensured that the depictions represented in the historical markers are far from the typical orientalist approach by the foreign artists which imagined our ancestors as savages. “The marker texts and the artworks blended together to exude “our” point of view of the events.”

Raquel P. Gomez
Special Features writer at Philippine Daily Inquirer. She is tasked to write anything under the sun, but certain topics appeal to her personally, like technology, gardening, cooking, food, movies, TV series, heritage and historical areas, and travel. You may email her at rgomez@inquirer.com.ph