Philippine Essay

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Philippine History Essay

LEGAZPI EXPIDITION

On November 21, 1564, the fifty Spanish expidition to the Philippines sailed from Mexico. Aboard four ships under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi were five Augustinian friars, 380 men and a fair amount of food, ammunition and trinkets. The expedition was not the best nor the worst ever fitted for its destination, which at the start had been guessed as New Guinea.Whether it was good sailing weather, or the combined forces of the Spanish King's trusted, tactful Legazpi, the conscientious Fray Andres de Urdaneta, ship's chief navigator, the experienced Marshall Martin de Goiti and the courageous, adventurous Captain Juan de Salcedo - this expedition landed in the Philippines, if not with complete security then at least with more than even changes of survival.Sealed orders which Legazpi opened at mid sea carried King Phillip's instructions to sail to the Philippines and "labor diligently to make and establish sound friendship and peace with the natives - represent to them His Majesty's affection and love, giving them a few presents - and treating them well".The true intent of the order did not escape Legazpi. He was on a voyage of colonization, a peaceful colonization if possible, but colonization, above all. Urdaneta understood the message, too, and reluctantly did his job. He was willing enough to proceed to the Philippines to spread the word of God, but he was well aware that there were other motives than the planting of the cross.This was not an undiscovered, isolated region where credulous natives gave friendship in exchange for a looking-glass, or accepted the affection and love of a king several thousand miles away without questioning his motives. More than forty years past, the red-lipped, pink-powdered young wife of Cebu's Rajah Humabon had been baptized and gifted an image of the Child Jesus by Magellan. There had been rejoicing at the conversion, the avowals of friendship, and what appeared to be the easy conquest of the islands. Two weeks later, in the nearby island of Mactan, Magellan's army of Spaniards and assisting Cebuans were felled by Lapulapu and his men. Magellan was killed, and although there is little truth to the story that his Achilles heel had been located in his armor-uncovered knee, his death discovered for the Filipinos the vulnerability of the Spanish.A few days later, 27 Spaniards were killed by recently friendly Cebuans. The hostility survived the years, nourished by the various rumors of other expeditions attempting to reach Cebu. Legazpi landed in Cebu on February 13, 1565. The gifts of glass, beads and mirrors were received - and cinnamon, wine and gold were given in exchange. This then, in effect, was barter. The Cebuans might have felt freed from the duties of hospitality and made no effort to disguise their hostility.The Philippines then was made up of many little kingdoms with chieftains who were friendly or hostile to each other, but who recognized each other's independence. Trade and commerce was carried on among themselves and with foreigners. The Chinese, Japanese, Arabs, Siamese, Sumatrans and other neighboring traders had brought to the country their various customs and cultures, without attempting to bring the authority of their kings.The independence of rule and thinking of the various kingdoms were a help to Legazpi's troops. If they were not wanted in one place, they were still welcome in another. Bohol's chieftain, Sikatuna received them warmly. The policy of attraction - a combination of earnest piety, genteel diplomacy and abundance of beads - worked.Many years later the painter Juan Luna somberly and stiffly immortalized the blood compact, the casi-casi in which the protagonists Sikatuna and Legazpi drew blood from themselves and with the mixed brew signed the pact of brotherhood. This ritual of minimum bloodshed was certainly preferable to violence and Legazpi filed it away in his mind, to draw on for future use.With...
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