March 16, 1521
Ferdinand Magellan, after what can only be charitably termed an arduous journey filled with betrayal, murder, disaster, and derring do on the high seas, arrived at his ultimate destination: He arrived at Las Islas Filipinas, more specifically the expedition first spotted land on this date. Of course back then he named us, or at least the islands of Samar and others, Islas de San Lazaro. The name Las Islas Filipinas would come later, given by Ruy de Villalobos.
While the Magellan expedition is popularly thought to have been the first encounter between the inhabitants of the archipelago and Europeans, this actually wasn’t the case. There are encounters that predated his arrival, most likely by Portuguese who plied the southern trade routes. Which, naturally, brings up the interesting observation that the natives were not naive and innocent, there to be taken advantage of by the rapacious Spaniards and Europeans. But, that is a point for another discussion.
Magellan’s arrival and subsequent stay, up to that point, was the most document engagement between the West and East in the archipelago. And in effect, it was the moment that began the process of bringing our world closer together. East meets West. With Magellan bridging the gap, and later Urdaneta mapping a stable route, globalization began. We became, in many ways, one of the most important entrepôt in the world, at that time, and subsequently in human history.
Forgotten yes, but fascinating nonetheless.