One hundred eighty-one years ago today (29 December 1838), Luis Lardizábal y Montoya, a native of Vizcaya, España, was appointed Governor-General of the Capitanía General de Filipinas, the forerunner of today’s Filipinas or Republic of the Philippines. He immediately set to work.
Immediately the following year, Lardizábal sought to strengthen the military. He ordered the increase of a section of grenadiers (soldiers specialized for the throwing of grenades and sometimes assault operations) in addition to two existing ones. He gave some provisions on the residency registration and contributions (taxes, probably) of the Chinese. And realizing the excellent quality of Filipino tobaccos and at the same time their defective manufacturing, measures were taken to prevent counterfeit products as well as its accreditation. It was also during his term when a weekly newspaper titled “Precios Corrientes de Manila” (Manila Current Prices) was published.
Among history conscious Novo Vizcaínos of the Cagayán Valley (Region II), Lardizábal is remembered as the one who established their province of Nueva Vizcaya. In English, the province’s name simply means New Vizcaya. For sure, Lardizábal had wanted to honor his home province in faraway Spain. But it is not generally known that it was also he who requested from the supreme Spanish government in Madrid to have a monument erected at Opón Island (now known as Mactán) to commemorate the discovery of our archipelago by Fernando de Magallanes, an event leading to the establishment of the “Estado Filipino” of the Filipino State many years later, on 24 June 1571.
When Lardizábal made the request, I wonder if he by then already knew that the carrack Victoria, the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world (and the lone survivor of the five-ship Magallanes expedition), was built in his home province. According to historian Danilo Gerona, Victoria, originally named Santa María, was built in a shipyard in Ondarroa, Vizcaya.
But with the prevailing Hispanophobia in this country, I also wonder: does the National Quincentennial Committee even know about this? Or do they even care? 🤔
A 1915 photograph of the Magallanes monument which I found at eBay. It’s currently priced at $29.99 or more than ₱1,500.