Marking 500 years of Magellan’s world tour

Man has gone to the moon, explored the surface of Mars and identified new planets and stars in the vast universe, but five hundred years ago, man had yet to prove the earth was round.


Filipinas Quincentenario 1521-2021, a private-led organization is initiating a grand event to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world, the arrival of Christianity in our isalnds, and giving recognition to Datu Lapu Lapu of Mactan as the first Malay hero to successfully resist foreign domination.

Ferdinand Magellan, born in Portugal, but it was under the Spanish flag that he sailed in 1519 with the intention of reaching the Spice Islands by sailing west around South America. Known as the first man who circumnavigated the world. He died on April 27, 1521.

Ferdinand Magellan, born in Portugal, but it was under the Spanish flag that he sailed in 1519 with the intention of reaching the Spice Islands by sailing west around South America. Known as the first man who circumnavigated the world. He died on April 27, 1521.

In one of the oldest homes in Davao City, at the Habana residence along Rizal St., we met Joaquin “Jack” Rodriguez who is the force behind this commemoration. Jack himself traces his genealogical roots to Luisa Azaola  and Jose Ma. Gonzalez. Luisa was the widow of Don Jose Cruz de Oyanguren. Jack is also the grandson of Joaquin Serra Rodriguez, the appointed governor-at-large of Davao by American Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing before 1915.

Jack explained the significance of the historic event, sharing that King Felipe VI of Spain has convened the National Commission in Spain which will be responsible for organizing the events for the commemoration of the 500 years of the first world tour.

On Oct. 9, 2017, the Philippine Quincentenario Center Inc, represented by Jack forged a collaborative agreement with the ‘Sevilla 2019-2022,’ the Spanish Commission, for a reciprocal celebration in their respective countries.

Since then, there were various collaborative meetings with private institutions, the most notable of which was the roundtable discussion with dignitaries from Spain, Argentina and Filipino nationalists, history scholars and leaders on August 16, 2017. Other meetings were with the Los  Ultimos Filipinos at La Tienda in Makati on August 18, 2017, the Rotary Club of Manila, Knights of Colombus general assembly in Cebu, Sugbu Quincentenario with Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III and Butuan City with Mayor Ronni Vic Lagnada.

In Davao City, Jack had a meeting last Wednesday with Arch. Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, where they shared updates on events within the Magellanic cities of the Philippines. The Archbishop said that the CBCP has organized a commission handling the quincentenary program which is based in Cebu City.

To engage Dabawenyos in this milestone, Jack also met with Councilor Pilar Braga, committee chair on education, and who also chairs the Davao Historical Society.

“We  hope  to gain  the support of the city government  thru Mayor Sara  Duterte  because the Filipinas  Quincentenario  does  not only zero-in on  history  alone but is also concerned  with  tourism,  navigational  science,  arts  and  culture.  This is a national event   and since Davao City is the home place of the first President from  Mindanao, we are interested to participate,” she said.

She will be drafting a resolution to the city council to be part of the international initiative by organizing local events relevant to the commemoration, Incorporating the spirit of the Filipinas Quincentenario.

The draft resolution states: “We believe this piece of world history is important to us as a people and as a nation because it deals with the beginning of our nation. The first arrival of the Spaniards in our shores dates back to that episode in 1521. Along with it, we also saw the shining moment of our race when our forefather, Lapu Lapu bravely defended the island of Mactan from foreign domination. Hence the Filipinas Quincentario anchors this commemoration program on three over riding reasons:

  1. The assertion of our freedom from foreign intervention that was started by Lapulapu in 1521.
  2. Filipinas Quincentenario 1521-2021 constitutes the marker as we review the seminal nodes in our history over the past 500 years that led to our nationhood;
  3. The arrival of Christianity on Philippine shores and how it evolved as the main Christian belief system in the country.

Jun Alvizo, executive director of the Philippine Quincentario Center Inc, said that they are working to hold a World Summit in the Philippines next year , to be participated by the circumnavigation nations. In the Philippines the circumnavigation cities are identified as Zamboanga, General Santos, Dumaguete and the Magellanic provinces are Cebu province, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Samar and Butuan City.

This summit is expected to lead to an organization of the Circumnavigation Nations of the World that will be in the forefront in fostering peace and in addressing challenges confronting  mankind in the 21st century, such as threats to world security and environmental problems.

Mankind has explored beyond its own planet and discovered amazing things that couldn’t have been imagined by scientists, navigators and explorers 500 years ago. We wonder what the next 500 years would look like.

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