Wednesday, June 17, 2015

1734 Philippine map by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, SJ

Note: This is an expanded version of my front page story in the 12-18 Jun 2015 issue of FilAm Star, the weekly 'newspaper for Filipinos in America' where we are the Manila-based Special News/Photo Correspondent. 

The map was downloaded from the collection of the US Library of Congress [Catalogue No. 2013585226; and Digital ID g8060 ct003137].  The detailed pictures were cropped from this same map.

This copy was downloaded from the U.S. Library of Congress map collection.

The map of the Philippine Islands (“Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Islas Filipinas”)  published by Jesuit Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde in Manila in 1734, is coming home in July. This was reportedly the assurance of Mel Velasco Velarde, chief executive officer of Now Corporation, who acquired the almost 300-year-old map from an auction at Sotheby’s in London on 17 November 2014 with his winning bid of GBP170,500 (USD$266,869.46 or Php12,014,463.09).

Sotheby’s announced that the sale was upon the order of the duke of Northumberland and the trustee of the Northemberland estates. There are still other existing copies: one at the U.S. Library of Congress and another at the Bibliotheque national de France, both of which can be accessed online.

Velarde, according to reports, will donate the antique map to the National Museum on condition that the government would take care of it and allow anyone to see it.  He will also present a certified true copy to President Benigno Aquino III on Philippine Independence Day.

At the lower portion of the map is the notation “Lo esculpio Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay, Indio Tagalo, Manila año 1734,” which refers to the Filipino who did the engraving. Another indio Tagalo name is written below the notations to the map of Manila on the right side: Francisco Suarez, with the note "lo hizo", meaning he made or drew the said map.

The Carta is very relevant today. It graphically affirms the historical fact that Panacot or Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal has always been a part of Philippine territory. Thus, it is a strong rebuttal to the nine-dash-line territorial claims of China in the South China Sea. A copy of this Murillo map may have been included in the Memorial reportedly comprising around 4,000 pages of arguments, documents and maps that the Philippines submitted to the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal on 30 March 2014.

For anyone who would like to look at their provinces around that time, enlarging the U.S. Library of Congress copy would reveal the towns that were already existing at that time.  The boundary between Pangasinan and Zambales was not indicated here, We know however that Zambales extended from Bolinao in the north to Subic in the South during the Spanish colonial times. In this map, Pta. [Puerta?] de Bolinao and Pta. de Agno were marked, and likewise, the barrios/towns of Cabatugan, Balca, Sagayan (which became Sta. Cruz), Tambobo, Bani, Masigloc (Masinloc?), Tugui, Castagan (Caslagan?), Banganalala, Playa Honda o Paynauen (Iba today), Banganbucao, Cabangoan (Cabangan today), and Subic. Panacot is shown off Zambales, opposite the towns of Tugui and Castagan. In modern maps, the shoal is opposite Palauig and Masinloc towns. Obviously, the Murillo map erred in the location of Masigloc/Masinloc.

The Murillo is very detailed map.  There are six pictures on each of the vertical sides. The drawings include scenes from the daily lives of the inhabitants of islands at that time, and small maps of Manila, Zamboanga, port of Cavite and the island of Guam.  

There is also medallion at the bottom left of the map which contains a historical line about the arrival and death of Magellan and the foundation of Manila, enumeration of flora and fauna found here, products from Mindanao like pearls, and, most significant of all, the state of the colony as of 1734 --  one archbishopric, three bishoprics, one chancery, three governments, 21 provinces or jurisdictions, etc., and number of towns and total population of the provinces administered by the various religious orders.

In 1894, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera devoted a book to the Murillo maps, the original of 1734 and its subsequent editions. He lamented the loss of valuable documents such as this in the country due to termites but noted that, thankfully, these can be found in archives or libraries abroad. He called the 1734 Murillo the ‘first map of the Philippines.’ In his lectures on the historical truths and lies in the West Philippine Sea, Justice Antonio T. Carpio called it the “mother of all Philippine maps.”

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