The Philippines

October 1st, 2013 by

The retracing voyage will begin the journey in the Philippines where Magellan was killed. The voyage will begin here as this is the core of the commingling of European and Asian cultures resonating through the centuries to the present day.

The European perspective on this commingling has been the primary history taught in schools in the U.S. The Philippine and Southeast Asian perspective on the history of this contact is just as important and interesting, and provides an opportunity to broaden our understanding of this historic development.

For example, the majority of the world thinks Magellan completed the expedition. Filipinos, however, are taught in elementary school that Magellan introduced the Roman Catholic Church to the Philippines, and was killed by Chief Lapulapu and his warriors on Mactan Island. There is even an annual reenactment of the Battle of Mactan on April 27th. This is common knowledge to Filipinos across their country.

The Malaysian ethnic group across the islands of Southeast Asia are descendants of mariner nomads that settled across the region thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The European contact and Magellan’s arrival led to a valuable network connection for the world’s maritime industry that continues to this day. Historically referred to as ‘Manila Men,’ Filipino mariners were sought after for their maritime skills and continued the Malaysian mariner nomad culture.

The period of the “Manila Galleon” trade from 1565-1814 spans 250 years of a Filipino diaspora that extended across the Pacific Ocean and contributed to the wealth of Spain as spices, silk, jewels and porcelain were added to the gold and silver riches of the new world booty.

The “Manila Men” were sought-after mariners in the Pacific whaling industry as smart, hardworking sailors with pleasant dispositions. The diaspora came to include both men and women, and continues to the present day as Filipinos staff ships, medical professions and service industries around the world.

Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American minority group in the United States. The “Alaskaneros” Filipino population has grown to be the largest Asian minority in Alaska at approximately 16,000. The first historical documentation of a Filipino arriving in Alaska is in 1780.

Despite Magellan having preceded Cook by 250 years, the two great explorers share a common thread of interaction with cultures and religions completely unknown to one another. Magellan’s contact with the Philippines in 1521 was the beginning of the Spain’s ultimate domination of the islands until 1898. The Philippines are the only predominately Christian country in Asia and Filipinos are predominately Roman Catholic.

An anthropological study of pre-Magellan beliefs in the Philippines from a Filipino perspective would shed interesting light on the incredible success and popularity of Catholicism in this Malaysian ethnic group over the course of time since 1st contact.

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