The longest journey

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

Last year, and in the middle of a pandemic, both the Spanish and Filipino delegations made a courageous journey to Eastern Samar in our own expedition with the goal of honoring and bringing back to life the longest journey on the first circumnavigation of the globe. While history has told us the stories on Magellan, citing the chronicles of Pigafetta and depicting the battle with Lapu-Lapu, humanity on the other hand has enabled us to appreciate our close relations between nations together with a deeper understanding of our own culture. Yesterday, March 23, 2022, at the National Museum, and on the occasion of the Quincentennial anniversary of the expedition of Magellan and Elcano to the Philippines as well as the occasion of 75th anniversary celebration of the Filipino-Spanish Diplomatic relations, His Excellency Jorge Moragas significantly narrated historical facts that simultaneously pointed out one very important thing – the human touch through our first contact.

In today’s events where the world is finding itself in the midst of both uncertain and crucial times, where countries are encountering challenges in various diplomatic relations, I would like to think that we are realizing the value of taking a step back in order to appreciate the importance of that “human touch” which can very well change the course of things. The story of the first circumnavigation of the globe brought this special connection to light – humans being humane through diplomatic exchange. Yes indeed, diplomacy existed even then and it was through this that men became lovers of humanity. There are many stories that have been left untold in our history books. We have been educated to take note of the battles that have been lost or won yet, the essence of the human connection is the very same root for everything that one may consider as defeat or victory. Different cultures have different beliefs on how important social connection is, but the need to connect is powerful as our social environment shapes us.

500 years ago (501 to be precise), five ships in the service of the king of Spain set sail in search of the spice island. As Ambassador Moragas once said, this expedition was about trading with a nation; a leap forward in the areas of communication and geography as throughout the journey, the Pacific Ocean was discovered. Such times were critical as Magellan and his men were dying and starving and running out of drinking water but, as the anchor marked their voyage in this “pit stop” if one could call it that, so did it manifest the human connection that sprung forth from the encounter they had with the people of Suluan who brought them food, water and coconut liquor. To me, this made all the difference. This was the beginning of our diplomatic ties. The longest journey became one of brotherhood where, culturally and diplomatically, we are learning that you and I can only be human if we do it together. While this expedition had its beautiful beginnings, somewhere along the way, and as Ambassador Jorge funnily said, things got a bit messy yet, it was that very first touch of human exchange that remains to be the moment of human achievement.

May the past continue to remind us that the future belongs both to the brave and that victory and humanity exist even in the unknown.



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