Who we are, how we think, what we do
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part II of “Ako ay Pilipino! Ano’ng Ibig Sabihin Nito”)

The Crusaders paved the way for Europeans to see the refined culture and customs of the Orient in contrast to their coarser way of life. Much favored merchandise were the exotic spices, tapestries, gems, gold and silver craftsmanship. Such lucrative trade resulted in new found wealth that made cities like Venice prosper. It roused the ambition of the English, French, Portuguese and Dutch to explore and discover new routes to various continents.

Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Magellan

Three great discoveries were thus made. The first was by Christopher Columbus in 1492. He discovered America while experimenting with a westward route to India. Six years later, a route to India by the Cape of Good Hope was discovered by Vasco de Gama. It destroyed the monopoly of Venice over Oriental trade and made Portugal the most important trading and colonizing power. The most significant discovery, however, was made by Ferdinand Magellan who discovered the Philippines while making the first complete circumnavigation of the world by sailing westward.

Although modern writers tend to emphasize Lapu-Lapu’s killing of the conquistador Magellan, the first Filipinos who welcomed the traders in Samar and Leyte were friendly. Magellan accorded respect to their island chieftains who were sophisticated, serving banquets with porcelain platters and potteries as recorded by Pigafetta, Magellan’s historian. In search of sufficient food supply, Magellan’s fleet landed in Cebu. He paid tribute to Rajah Humabon. Presents were exchanged. It was Easter, March 21, 1521. Afterwards, peace was formalized when Rajah Humabon and his Queen were baptized together with 800 others. Magellan had a big cross erected on the site while the image of Santo Niño was presented to the Queen. These historical relics have been preserved to this day.

The first Spanish settlements: Cebu and Manila

The Spanish government sent more expeditions after Magellan perished. From Navidad, Mexico, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Padre Andres de Urdaneta were sent on the fifth expedition. A man of tact and vision, Legazpi attracted the cooperation of Datu Tupas, the chief of Cebu, by using federal covenants of Europe. Just as his vassal pledges loyalty and the lord in turn promises protection, tributes in the form of produce were to be paid the Spanish government representative and military aid was given in case of war. All spoils of war were to be divided equally between the Spaniards and Filipinos. Legazpi requested land for a fort and townsite for his soldiers. The land given (Fort San Pedro which still exists today) was named Santissimo Nombre de Jesus (Holy Name of Jesus), in honor of the Child Jesus’ statue believed to be the one left by Magellan.

Only 30 years after the taking of Cebu, the Philippines became the most important European colony in the Far East. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade, made it an outstanding city, and its power stretched from Goa, India to Formosa, China. It was not only a political and commercial center, but a religious center, as well. From Manila, missionaries went to Japan, Spain, Cambodia, and Borneo to teach the Catholic faith.

Spanish names, the Semana Santa, and Comida adopted by Filipinos

Most Filipino surnames originate from places in Spain. Up north by the Cordilleras the names like Gallego, Astoria, Orense, Pontevedra and Vigo originated. Along the Gulf of Vizcaya, places are named Bilbao, Bermeo, Figuera, Llanes and Guernica. Albarracian, Viana, Zaragoza, Logrono, and Lerida are found in the Aragon and Navarre in the northeast. Rosas, Montserrat, Villafranca, Gerona, Teressa, and Tarragona are in Catalonia.

The many fiestas during the summer holidays are events all Filipinos look forward to. The Holy Week celebration is drawn from the Samana Santa of Spain. It ushers in the elaborate church ceremonies of Miercules Santo and Huwebes Santo, with the sorrowful procession of Viernes Santo in many towns of the Philippines. Then Sabado de Gloria is followed by Easter Sunday or Domingo de Pascua with its quaint “salubong” ceremony recalling the Resurrected Lord’s meeting His Mother Mary.

The fiesta food served are very much influenced by Spain. Favored dishes include Pata con Setas, Pochero, Callos, Lengua, Morcon, Paella, Arroz Valenciana, or Arroz ala Cubana. Rabo de Toro (ox tail) became modified as Kare-kare with peanut sauce, Conchinillo is known as to us as Lechon de Leche, and for dessert or merienda – Churros con Chocolate, Canonigo, Leche Flan, Mazapan, Pastillas de Leche, Ube, etc.

When Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully together

Of all the historical epochs of Spain, a golden age of peace and culture was enjoyed under Sultan Abdal-Rahman (912-961). The Muslims left a high level of Mathematics, Astronomy, and Science. Sultan Abdal-Rahman founded the great mosque, the Mezquita in Cordoba, where luxury silk and leather are produced. From Medina, with Ayahara, the splendid palace, Abdal-Rahman created the zenith of peace, a period of convivencia or mutual toleration in which the three civilizations of Islam, Christianity and the Jews all lived together peacefully.

Rewriting history after 500 years

It is not only Japanese history textbooks that should be rewritten to tell the whole truth, but Philippine history textbooks as well. What is the use of referring to Philippines 2000 when we still teach our youngster to dislike Spain, America and Japan as our former colonizers.

Only a united brotherhood can make this world safe again for our children. This peace is the prerequisite before we can see progress at the turn of the century. Read all about it in my book Half a Millennium of Philippine History available in the five O.B. Montessori campuses. The late Dr. J.J. Smolicz of the University of Adelaide’s endorsed the book: “Dr. Soliven writes without bitterness, and while acknowledging the sufferings of those who fought for independence, she does not disparage the benefits brought to the Philippines by Spain – the chief among them being our precious Catholic faith.”

(For feedback email to precious.soliven@yahoo.com)

PHILIPPINE HISTORY
Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with