Buenos Aires, Argentina/ 26 May 2021 – When Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition finally reached the island of Homonhon, Eastern Samar, on 18 March 1521, the farthest thing from the minds of his starving, emaciated crew was to find welcome. And yet, to their surprise, they were met by emissaries bearing gifts and food, who taught them how to eat a coconut properly.

The sheer humanity of this image is illustrative of the theme for the Philippines’ commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the world, “Victory and Humanity.”

To mark this momentous occasion, and in celebration of the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Argentina, the Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy in Argentina together with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission (NHC), organized a webinar on 26 August 2021 to discuss the part of the Philippines in this momentous historical event.

Professor Ian Christopher Alfonso, a Senior Researcher at the NHC and conference speaker, explained that the numerous kingdoms already existed in the Philippines when the Spaniards arrived. These kingdoms were sophisticated and intricately connected to other kingdoms of island Southeast Asia by trade, marriage, and customs. The Spanish decision to conquer Manila was a defining affair that turned it into what is arguably the first truly global city, uniting Europe, Asia, and the Americas through the Galleon Trade, but at the loss of many traditional privileges of the elite.

In her remarks, Philippine Ambassador to Argentina, Linglingay F. Lacanlale, recalled that the expedition stopped at what is now the Puerto San Julian in Patagonia, Argentina, on the way to the Philippines, thus linking the two countries symbolically through Magellan’s voyage.

Professor Alfonso noted that it is important to depart from narratives that focus only on the European point of view. The humanity shown by the Filipinos to the expedition and the victory over Magellan is part of the same story. They are the shared inheritance of the Filipino people.