CEBU CITY – The Philippines has marked another milestone in its 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations with the arrival of the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano in Cebu City on Saturday morning.
The ship’s goodwill port call to the Queen City of the South is in line with the Quincentennial Celebration of the world’s first circumnavigation.
“We are now on the fifth day of the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines. We started it in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on March 16. It will last until October 28, which is the 500th anniversary of the exit of the Magellan-Elcano expedition from the Philippine waters via Sarangani Island, Davao Occidental,” Undersecretary Jonji Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas said during the arrival ceremony at the Cebu International Port Pier 6 in this city.
“But a lot of people are still confused why are we commemorating the coming of the Spaniards to the Philippines? Is the Magellan-Elcano expedition our history?” said Gonzales, a regular member of the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC).
Gonzales explained the NQC had already settled this issue during its first meeting in June 2018.
“The committee assures the Filipino people that we will not celebrate the discovery of the Philippines. We will commemorate the quincentennial the Filipino way, which means we will raise the awareness of our countrymen about the rich yet challenging pre-Hispanic or pre-colonial history,” he said.
It is rich, Gonzales said, because for thousands of years before 1521, Filipino ancestors were already existing and thriving in these islands of Southeast Asia.
“It is challenging because of the scant sources but the NQC keeps on tracking whatever is left about our pre-colonial ancestors from various libraries and archives around the world,” he added.
Speaking during the ceremony, Amaya Fuentes Milani, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Spain in Manila, underscored Cebu’s significance in the commemoration of the world’s circumnavigation.
“There are factors that make this moment very significant. One is what Cebu represents. When the expedition first arrived here in 1521, it was just a small settlement, but now Cebu is the second-largest city in the Philippines, home to more than one million people, and is a symbol of how the Philippines has been developing and growing along the last decades,” Milani said.
The Spanish diplomat also noted that Cebu is “also one of the center stages of modern cooperation” between Spain and the Philippines.
She cited the strong cooperation and prosperity between the two countries in the modern-day.
Meanwhile, top Cebu officials welcomed the arrival of the Spanish Navy training ship.
The ship came to the country, first arriving in Samar then sailing to Cebu, as part of the commemoration of the arrival of Armada de Maluco, also known as the Magellan-Elcano expedition that completed the first circumnavigation of the world in March 1521.
The Spanish training ship departed Spain in October 2020 to retrace the original route of the expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano. The ship arrived in the waters of Suluan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on March 16, 2021.
The NQC chose the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world as the branding of the commemorations instead of the Eurocentric discovery of the Philippines.
“While we commemorate our own milestones associated with the first circumnavigation such as the Humanity at Homonhon, which we commemorated in Guiuan the past days, the Easter Sunday Mass in Limasawa on March 31, the baptism in Cebu or the 500 Years of Christianity in Cebu on April 14, and the Victory at Mactan on April 27, we are also one with the rest of humankind in acknowledging the achievement of science and humanity of encircling the planet for the first time,” Gonzales said. (PNA)