The Magallanes-Vizcaya connection

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? 🤔

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A 1915 photograph of the Magallanes monument which I found at eBay. It’s currently priced at $29.99 or more than ₱1,500.

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Fake history spotted!

It has recently come to my attention that a certain Wassily Clavecillas (who, if I’m not mistaken, holds a certain position at the Limbagang Pinpín Museum and Heritage Resort in Abúcay, Bataán) is spreading some fake history item on Facebook regarding an alleged tribute to Lapu-Lapu written by José Rizal.

FAKE HISTORY

Below is a blow-up of the alleged Rizalian praise for Lapu-Lapu, in case you have difficulty in reading the above text…

FAKE HISTORY

For those who do not understand Spanish, below is the translation (image also provided by Clavecillas):

FAKE HISTORY

According to Clavecillas, he got this Rizalian acclamation from Cronología Filipina by Domingo Ponce, a rare book that was published in 1958 (judging from its contents, it seems like a textbook, but I could be wrong). His FB post has been shared and praised by many clueless Filipinos who are not familiar with Rizal’s original works in Spanish.

But was the above text really written by the national hero?

To those who are familiar with Rizal’s body of work, the answer, of course, is no. Rizal wrote not a single word of praise to the Mactán chieftain. In fact, during his time, Lapu-Lapu —or to be more precise, Cali Pulaco— was considered by Filipinos as the antagonist of the Mactán narrative. Remember Carlos Calao’s 17th-century poem?

However, Rizal did compose a poem of praise, but not for Cali Pulaco / Lapu-Lapu. He wrote one for Fernando de Magallanes, aka Ferdinand Magellan. As a matter of fact, today is the anniversary of that poem…

EL EMBARQUE
(Himno a la Flota de Magallanes)

–José Rizal–

          En bello día
Cuando radiante
Febo en Levante
Feliz brilló,
En Barrameda
Con gran contento
El movimiento
Doquier reinó.

          Es que en las playas
Las carabelas
Hinchan las velas
Y a partir van;
Y un mundo ignoto,
Nobles guerreros
Con sus aceros
Conquistarán.

          Y todo es júbilo,
Todo alegría
Y bizarría
En la ciudad;
Doquier resuenan
Roncos rumores
De los tambores
Con majestad.

          Mil y mil salvas
Hace a las naves
Con ecos graves
Ronco cañón;
Y a los soldados
El pueblo hispano
Saluda ufano
Con affección.

          ¡Adiós!, les dice,
Hijos amados,
Bravos soldados
Del patrio hogar;
Ceñid de glorias
A nuestra España,
En la campaña
De ignoto mar.

          Mientras se alejan
Al suave aliento
De fresco viento
Con emoción;
Todos bendicen
Con vos piadosa
Tan gloriosa
Heróica acción.

          Saluda el pueblo
Por ves postrera
A la bandera
De Magallán,
Que lleva el rumbo
Al océano
Do ruge insano
El huracán.

5 de diciembre de 1875.

Rizal wrote this poem of praise when he was only 14 years old, as a student of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila (now Ateneo de Manila University). There was not a hint of rancor  or sarcasm at all. This poem is made up of beautiful verses of pure admiration for Magallanes and his fleet as they sailed away “To the gentle breath / Of the fresh wind / With emotion, / All bless / With pious voice / So glorious / Heroic action” (click here to read the complete English translation).

Moved as I was with its stirring imagery, I recorded my declamation of the said poem in its Spanish original…

Now that we have cleared this issue of false attribution, the next question would be: where did the publishers of Cronología Filipina cull that text? Actually, it is true that Rizal wrote that text which Clavecillas had proudly shared in social media. However, Rizal wrote it without Lapu-Lapu in mind — those words were lifted straight out of his second novel, El Filibusterismo. In fact, they were the words of a disenchanted Isagani.

Whoever the publishers were of Cronología Filipina were either as ignorant as Clavecillas is of Rizalian literature, or they really had an agenda in mind: to spread the so-called Leyenda Negra, the weapon of the Hispanophobe. We are inclined to believe in the latter especially if we are to read the heading on the page that was shared by Clavecillas: ¡LOOR AL HÉROE DE MACTÁN! Praise to the Hero of Mactán! And they even used a sketch of Lapu-Lapu to make it appear as if Rizal was really praising him!

Sad to say, Clavecillas is a perfect example of a messed-up Pinoy who could no longer understand Rizal’s nationalistic thoughts and ideals due to his ignorance of the Spanish language which up to now he erroneously associates with elitism. Nevertheless, we have to thank Clavecillas because, wittingly or unwittingly, he was able to produce evidence on how early books were already using Rizal to brainwash Filipinos into hating their Spanish past.

P.S. I use the words “ignorant” and “ignorance” on this blogpost without meaning to offend.
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El Embarque (Himno a la Flota de Magallanes)

EL EMBARQUE
(Himno a la Flota de Magallanes)

–José Rizal–

          En bello día
Cuando radiante
Febo en Levante
Feliz brilló,
En Barrameda
Con gran contento
El movimiento
Doquier reinó.

          Es que en las playas
Las carabelas
Hinchan las velas
Y a partir van;
Y un mundo ignoto,
Nobles guerreros
Con sus aceros
Conquistarán.

          Y todo es júbilo,
Todo alegría
Y bizarría
En la ciudad;
Doquier resuenan
Roncos rumores
De los tambores
Con majestad.

          Mil y mil salvas
Hace a las naves
Con ecos graves
Ronco cañón;
Y a los soldados
El pueblo hispano
Saluda ufano
Con affección.

          ¡Adiós!, les dice,
Hijos amados,
Bravos soldados
Del patrio hogar;
Ceñid de glorias
A nuestra España,
En la campaña
De ignoto mar.

          Mientras se alejan
Al suave aliento
De fresco viento
Con emoción;
Todos bendicen
Con vos piadosa
Tan gloriosa
Heróica acción.

          Saluda el pueblo
Por ves postrera
A la bandera
De Magallán,
Que lleva el rumbo
Al océano
Do ruge insano
El huracán.

5 de diciembre de 1875.

THE EMBARKATION
(Hymn to Magellan’s Fleet)

–José Rizal–

          On fair day
When radiant
Phoebus in the East
Happily shone,
In Barrameda
With great contentment
Movement
Reigned everywhere.

           ‘This because on the shores
The caravels
Swell their sails
And shall depart;
And an unknown world
Noble warriors
With their steel
Shall conquer.

          And all is jubilation,
All happiness
And gallantry
In the city;
Everywhere reverberate
Hoarse sounds
Of the drums
With majesty.

          Thousands and thousands of salvos
Greet vessels
With echoes grave,
Of hoarse cannon,
And to the soldiers
The Spanish people
Render proud salute
With affection.

          Adieu, she tells them,
Beloved sons,
Brave soldiers
Of the native home;
With glories crown
Our Spain,
In the campaign
On sea unknown.

          As they sail away
To the gentle breath
Of the fresh wind
With emotion,
All bless
With pious voice
So glorious
Heroic action.

          The people salute
For the last time,
The flag
Of Magellan,
That is enroute
To the ocean
Where rages insane
The hurricane.

(English translation by Alfredo S. Veloso)

“Elcano And Magellan” provokes careless comments

Netizens today are careless commenters. They comment brashly and prematurely before getting to know the meat of the story. But the same thing goes to news writers. They bait readers to get more clicks to their links, and in order to do that, they come up with some of the most obnoxious headlines.

The problem is that many netizens do not read beyond headlines.

This is what I realized after reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s story regarding a Spanish animated film that has not even been released yet. I am referring to “Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo” (Elcano: The First Voyage Around The World).

La imagen puede contener: 2 personas, texto

The movie is being marketed in the country as “Elcano and Magellan” probably because Fernando de Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) is more (in)famous among Filipinos compared to Juan Sebastián Elcano who was actually the one who completed the first circumnavigation of the world. But as expected, the trailer and movie posters drew flak among netizens. And for obvious reasons. Here are just some of the vitriol that the movie, which will not be released until January 2020, has been receiving:

There’s an animated movie about Magellan and just… YIKESSSS. Stop depicting colonizers as good guys.

The title should be: ‘The beginning of 333 years of pain and suffering to all Filipinos.’

This movie should be banned in the country.

“U better not release this fucking film”

“Si magellan naging bida haha 👏👏👏 tapos si lapu-lupa kontra bida 👏”

Virtually thousands of similar comments in various social media platforms have been hounding this production by Dibulitoon Studio, an independent audiovisual production outfit based in Spain. The backlash prompted Atty. Lawrence Fortún, 1st District Representative of Agusan del Norte, to chime in. He allegedly called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban this film.

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The good thing that came out from this press release by Atty. Fortún was that it triggered supporters of the film and other level-minded netizens, many of whom are well-versed in Filipino History.

Upon reading one of the headlines from Inquirer (“Solon to MTRCB: Ban ‘Magellan’ movie for possible Lapu-Lapu slur” by Pathricia Ann V. Roxas, but I noticed that they already replaced “Ban” with “Review”), I thought of using Twitter to bash the said solon (I can be a mean troll at times 😂). But thankfully, I kept my composure and read the whole story first, as it should be done in the first place. Surprisingly, the gentleman from Butuán City was not calling for the film’s banning at all. He merely suggested that experts in Filipino History be tapped to review Elcano and Magellan to “provide a more in-depth perspective and ensure that the movie will not dishonor Lapu-Lapu’s rightful place in our collective memory.”

La imagen puede contener: texto

From a Twitter exchange that I had with Hon. Rep. Fortún.

So now I guess the moral of the story is this: don’t judge brashly. Read the whole news right after reading the headlines before commenting. In the same vein, watch Elcano and Magellan first before coming up with a judgment.

Also, Inquirer’s headlines are click baits. 😂

Having said that, let me just add that Filipino have been unfair for years in treating all this Magallanes–Lapu-Lapu encounter. We have enshrined Lapu-Lapu to the highest pantheon of heroes without even having any in-depth knowledge of his history. To those who have been unkind towards Magallanes: have you even read the accounts of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magallanes Expedition? Magallanes, Elcano, and all the others who went with them were not exactly colonizers but explorers. During their time, many parts of the globe have not been explored. Their era, therefore, was known as the Age of Exploration. The people back then even thought that the world was flat, and that all sorts of sea monsters filled the unexplored oceans of the planet. The Magallanes Expedition during its time was equivalent to man’s first voyage to the Moon.

Also, not many people apparently are aware of Magallanes’s Catholic zeal, nor are they aware that Lapu-Lapu was not defending our country for the simple reason that it did not yet exist during his time. Does anyone here even know that Lapu-Lapu was not his real name, and that during the Spanish times, Magallanes was regarded highly by Filipinos?

Nevertheless, before I am depicted as an apologist for a movie that has not even been shown yet (although, admittedly, I really am), let me just caution readers that if it is fair for us to make films depicting Lapu-Lapu as a hero and Magallanes et al. as villains, why couldn’t Spain do the same for theirs? But more importantly, Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo / Elcano and Magellan is not exactly a movie about the Battle of Mactán (Magallanes’s bloody resting place), for it seems that that battle is merely a footnote to the movie, as it really was to the Magallanes Expedition. The film is about the first circumnavigation of the globe, a human feat that has brought glory not only to Spain but to mankind. If the voyage to the Moon was mankind’s first giant leap, the first circumnavigation of the globe was mankind’s baby steps. As one famous rockstar put it, you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.

elcano-la-primera-vuelta-al-mundo.6

Willie Revillamé as historian

This blogpost will surely raise some eyebrows especially among my historian friends and readers, but I have to admit that I’m a closet fan of Willie Revillamé as both TV host-comedian and philanthropist since his MTB and Wowowee days in ABS-CBN. His way with the masa (Filipino commoners) always strikes a chord in the right keys, and it’s really entertaining. I don’t want to sound like an apologist for his brand of humor (there was many a time when it got him into trouble), but it really works as he speaks the language of the streets. Through his current TV show Wowowin (actually a continuation of his gift-giving days in Wowowee and its later replacements), we get to see how such people comport and communicate among themselves on live TV. More importantly, we get to see the true face of the Filipino masses struggling every day just to survive this cruel, capitalistic world as they relate to him their true-to-life stories.

Willie’s fame, however, took a bit of a backslide when Wowowee was given the ax more than a decade ago following a highly publicized falling-out with ABS-CBN management. The show underwent a couple of iterations later on in rival stations TV5 and GMA, but all of them never got to equal the popularity of the original.

Recently, however, observers (including myself) noticed a spike in Wowowin’s TV ratings and digital media interest because of Herlene Nicole Budol, one of the show’s newest co-hosts whose claim to fame was when her videos as a Wowowin contestant became viral in both Facebook and YouTube in just a few days. That alone earned her a spot in Willie’s show early last month. Nicknamed “Hipon” (local slang for a girl with an attractive body and… well, just that 😂), the slim but statuesque 20-year-old Herlene captivated the hearts of audiences because of her bubbly, non-showbiz behavior.

Despite her sexy figure, pretty face (yes, she is pretty even if she herself doesn’t believe so), and street-smarts personality (she hails from a squatter’s area somewhere in Añgono, Rizal), there is a tinge of innocence in her that fans find so adorable. Countless TV viewers and netizens have been captivated with the show mainly because of her.

Herlene got me hooked with the show in the same manner that I got hooked with the AlDub Phenomenon a few years ago. But since I don’t watch TV anymore, I just rely on the show’s digital media team to upload highlights from each episode. I am not ashamed to say that I watch her videos almost every day as she relieves me of stress.

Yesterday’s episode really sparked my interest because in one of the show’s segments, Willie from out of the blue discussed my favorite topic: Filipino History!

Never mind if he mentioned some inaccuracies — for one, he said that EDSA’s original name was Highway 54 when in fact it used to be called Avenida 19 de Junio, named after José Rizal’s date of birth. What’s important here is that he is trying to spark interest among the masses to learn (or relearn) Filipino History, and not just to go to his show to win cash. And did anyone notice here how he acknowledged that the King of Spain during the arrival of Fernando de Magallanes to our shores was not King Felipe II but his father, Emperor Carlos V? That alone is already admirable because it’s a common misconception among millions of Filipinos that King Felipe II was the Spanish monarch when Magallanes arrived here. Strangely enough, Willie got it right. That piece of information coming from someone who is not a bookish person and is also one of the masses is something praiseworthy indeed.

And yes, there was no Hispanophobia from his brief recounting of history.

¡Mabuhay ca, Profesor Wil!