500th Year Celebration: The PH Welcomes Spain
The month of March marks a triumphant celebration between the Philippines and Spain. Recently, both countries collaborated for the 500th year celebration of the first global circumnavigation. Such expedition was initially led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. According to historical accounts, Magellan set foot on the island of Cebu as part of their route.
As a lot of events happened, history has so much to say about Magellan’s arrival. Because of that voyage, much Spanish influence spread across the archipelago. Fast forward to the present time, much of that influence continues to live on. This makes the 500th year celebration definitely a special one. Let us now take a peek at how the Spanish expedition changed Philippine history.
Revisiting the Historic Circumnavigation
This 500th year celebration would not take place if not for what happened five centuries ago. Dating back to 1519, Ferdinand Magellan headed a Spanish expedition consisting of five ships and 270 men. This expedition aimed for the best route from Spain to the Moluccas or Spice Islands (part of present-day Indonesia). Crossing the Pacific Ocean, Magellan’s crew suffered from hunger, thirst, and illness. It took some time before they finally reached an inhabited island. With only three ships remaining, Magellan with his crew set foot in the Philippines on March 21, 1521.
Upon his arrival in Cebu, Magellan presented a baptismal gift to the local chief’s wife. This was the image of the Holy Child, widely known as Santo Nino. Such an event marked the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. Because of this, the Philippines continues to have a strong devotion to the Santo Nino. In fact, the country is one of the Southeast Asian countries with the most Catholics.
Though Magellan could not complete the circumnavigation back then, Captain Juan Sebastian Elcano took charge. With only two ships left, they finally made it to the Spice Islands and back to Spain.
Commemorating the 500th Year Celebration
“Today, we relive history as it happened 500 years ago when Ferdinand Magellan set foot in Cebu which gave birth to our Christianity,” Cebu City Mayor Labella expressed in his opening speech on March 21. To commemorate the 500th year celebration, Cebu City welcomed the Spanish Navy training ship named Juan Sebastian Elcano. Upon docking at the port, the crew of Elcano witnessed an enthralling performance by Sinulog Festival dancers. In response to the warm welcome, Captain Santiago de Colsa expressed his gratitude to the Filipinos over the ship’s speaker system. This historic event became possible in cooperation with the National Quincentennial Committee, the Cebu City government, and the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines.
The ship Elcano is set for a seven-day visit to the Philippines, which is from March 16 to 22. It departed Spain in October of last year (2020). As a complete re-enactment of the circumnavigation, the 500th year celebration aims to trace back the original expedition route of Magellan and Elcano. The ship houses the crew to partake in this event. However, no one from the ship is permitted to disembark. This is one way to keep everyone safe from the spread of the coronavirus.
PH-Spain ties strengthened
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the world, nothing can stop this 500th year celebration. It is a celebration that has attached strings to both the Philippines and Spain. Events from five centuries ago speak about the success of the first circumnavigation. In addition, this also sparked the beginning of Christianity and the Victory of Mactan from foreign invaders. Most importantly, this historic event has bound a significant tie between the two countries. The head of the military’s Central command sincerely got his message across that “we are truly blessed for this triple celebration which significantly defines the journey between two countries that strengthen deeper bonds and friendship paved on the battlefield since 1521.” Indeed, this 500th year celebration is one unforgettable moment to beat.