Opav: Quincentennial commemorations to raise awareness on pre-colonial past

·2 min read

THE Philippines will commemorate the quincentennial of the Ferdinand Magellan-Sebastian Elcano expedition to circumnavigate the globe the “Filipino way.” It will not celebrate the anniversary of its “discovery” by the Europeans.

This was the message of Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Undersecretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales during the short ceremony to welcome the arrival of the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano at the Cebu International Port (CIP) in Cebu City on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

Gonzales said the National Quincentennial Committee, settled the issue back in June 2018 yet.

He said the country will instead recognize and raise awareness on the archipelago’s rich pre-Hispanic history.

“We need to understand our ancestors while commemorating the quincentennial — their society, belief system, customs, world view,” he said, adding that sources about pre-colonial past are scant and scattered across various libraries and archives around the world.

Gonzales said that while the Philippines commemorates the events associated with the first circumnavigation of the globe, it will highlight “the achievement of science and humanity.”

Spain was represented by Amaya Fuentes Milani, deputy head of mission at the Spanish Embassy in Manila.

She said there is a need to strengthen the ties between the two nations, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The historical ties between Spain and the Philippines must become stronger than ever because only together, through the development of the new common projects and initiatives that we will be able to overcome the crisis brought about by the pandemic,” she said.

“We must take advantage of the many things that bind us together in order to successfully overcome the challenges,” Milani added.

The captain of the Spanish Navy training ship Santiago de Colsa said the journey is worth it despite the danger of infection, as it has “great symbolic meaning.”

“This stopover enhanced the historic ties of the Philippines and Spain. We share a common history that goes by 500 years,” said Colsa.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella described the ship’s arrival as a historic event.

“Today, we relive history as it happened 500 years ago when Christianity was brought to Cebu and it gave birth to our deep-rooted faith in the Señor Santo Niño,” he said.

The ship was named after Elcano, a member of the crew of the Magellan expedition. He took over as captain after Magellan was killed in Mactan and completed the circumnavigation.

Colsa said the Elcano ship has 62 naval cadets on board.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Colsa said they are not allowed to leave the ship.

Cultural and Historical Affairs Office officer-in-charge Bryner Diaz said the Elcano ship will be docked at the CIP until Monday, March 22. (JJL)