The Juan Sebastián de Elcano is in the Philippines 500 years after the navigators of the first round-the-world voyage. If in 1521 it was well-received by the inhabitants of the area, who provided the explorers with food and drink, five centuries later the Filipinos have also shown their affection for Spain with a nice welcome in their waters, since due to the restrictions of the coronavirus the ship was anchored and its crew members will not be able to go ashore.
The Spanish Navy training ship approached the Philippine coast of Samar on 16 March, the same date that the Spanish expedition under the command of Magellan and Elcano did 500 years ago. To mark this historic event, many local people came with their small boats to celebrate their arrival.
The Spanish Embassy in the Philippines, together with the Philippine 500th Anniversary Committee, is carrying out an extensive programme of activities around the island of Samar from 15 to 18 March to welcome the training ship and commemorate the historic events of 1521. In this context, four small commemorative steles with inscriptions will be unveiled at four locations along the route initially traced by Magellan and Elcano’s expedition.
The first of these monuments was unveiled in Suluan on 16 March, another monolith in Homonhon on 17 March and two more steles, one in the church of Guiuan and the other in Samar, on 18 March. “The text of the latter has been translated into Spanish as a sign of the friendship between our two countries, and will be inaugurated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas”, explained the Spanish Embassy.
“These are historical events of great relevance, also feats that changed the course of humanity. That is why we want to celebrate them and we are honoured to be able to do so with the Philippine authorities“, said Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas.
Side view of Homonhon, one of the first islands to appear in the east of the Philippines / D.C.
After the stop in Suluan, the training ship will set sail for the neighbouring island of Homonhon, where the expedition crew went ashore, set foot on Philippine soil for the first time and made the first human contact with the local tribes.
To commemorate this historic milestone, the Embassy has also organised together with the Cervantes Institute and Casa Asia a series of conferences with historians and experts on this episode that will run until June, in addition to the exhibition “The Longest Voyage”, which will open in May at the National Museum of the Philippines.