Friday, March 17, 2006

Magellan Loved Wine More then Arms

Have we matured as Filipinos that no one noticed the passing of the 485th anniversary of the "discovery" of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan last March 16? Or have we just forgotten.

Martial Law babies know fully well this date, thanks to Yoyoy Villame's novelty song called "Magellan" which starts, "On March 16, 1521/ When Philippines was discovered by Magellan/ They were sailing day and night across the big ocean/ Until they saw a small Limasawa island."

Scanning the newspapers, no one hardly noticed the passing of this date. A recent book on the Spanish Empire by Hugh Thomas entitled "Rivers of Gold" also glossed on this fact. The book only came out in 2003 and its softcover edition cmae out the eyar after. Thomas has previously written six other books on the Spanish Empire.

Not only did Thomas not mention the "discovery" of Philippines but also spent only five pages out of the total 764 pages on the exploits of Magellan in the Philippines.

Thomas also wrote about Magellan near the end of the book, emphasizing that the Spanish Empire was already on the wane when Magellan came to the Philippines.

In spending pages and pages on Christopher Columbus, Diego Colon and Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the saga of Magellan came as a whimpering chapter.

One trivia would, however, interest history students. One reason that Magellan must have lost the battle of Mactan (written here as Matan) was that the explorer brought more wine than artillery in his five boats.

"It was always said in Sanlucar de Barrameda that Magellan spent more on the dry fortified wine, manzanilla, than on gunpowder," Thomas wrote.

In the footnote, Thomas cited Mauricio Gonzales for the data that Magellan spent 594,790 maravedis for manzanilla and 564,188 ms. on armaments including gunpowder. A maravedi was the most common and smallest currency in Magellan's time; 34 maravedis equal one real while one peso was equal to 450 maravedis.

This is not to say that Magellan's armory wasn't formidable. He brought 62 culverins (long, heavy cannons), ten falconets (smallers canons) and 50 arquebuses (heavy match lock guns). Also brought in were 1,000 lances, 220 shields, 60 crossbows, 50 light guns or escopitas and 50 quintales (about 5,000 pounds) of gunpowder.

But then, as previously said, Magellan also brought more than 400 barrels of either wine or water.

Thomas tried to be politically-correct, calling what were previously written as "natives" as "indigenous peoples." As it turned out, Thomas noted that it was not really the first time for Cebu people to meet foreign discoverers.

"(I)n ZZubu, in what is now Cebu in the Philippines, they (meaning Magellan's party) heard news for the first time of the Portuguese voyages ahead of them. The interpreter of Magellan explained to the indigenous people, firmly, that their master, the King of Spain, was more powerful than the King of Portugal."

After exchanges of gifts (including 14 pounds of iron form Magellan for 10 weights of gold), Magellan's men were entertained and, according to Thomas, Magellan agreed to fight the people of nearby Matan "for the benefit of pleasing the King of Zzubu."

And the rest is the song from Yoyoy Villame of Bohol. "hen the battle began at dawn/ Bolos and spears versus guns and cannons/ When Magellan was hit on his neck/ He stumble down and cried and cried."


Blogger R. O. said...

That's probably a good thing because the mere thought of us being "discovered"... That's too arrogant to say for the discoverer. It's reparation time.

12:46 PM  
Blogger R. O. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:46 PM  

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