04/14/14

Reminiscing Manila’s Magellan Monument

We all know of the (in)famous Lapu-Lapu monument found in the middle of Rizal Park’s Valencia Circle. Sure, there has been some controversy due to concerns of it overshadowing that other famous monument in the park we all know about, but there is no dispute that he deserves such an honor. After all, he is known as the first Filipino hero who managed to successfully thwart a foreign power’s first attempt to colonize us.

Lapu-Lapu monument in Rizal Park

On the other hand, and understandably, there is no monument in the city for Ferdinand Magellan, the antagonist in the story who tried to colonize us in the name of the Spanish crown but failed to do so and got killed in the process. While that historical tidbit should not be ignored, the aspect of Magellan the colonizer is the one Filipinos are more fixated upon while overlooking, if not ignoring, the aspect of Magellan as an explorer and navigator, the one who after all spearheaded the first successful trip around the world even if he did not live to complete it.

Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernando Magallanes as he is known in Spain

It is interesting to note though that a century ago, the situation was different in Manila. No Lapu-Lapu monument was seen (perhaps because the Spanish, then American colonial governments did not know about him yet) but instead the city boasted a grand monument dedicated to the Portuguese-born explorer. Its origins date back to 1848, when Spanish Governor General Narciso Claveria sought to have it built. It was originally to be erected in Cebu, but it was decided that such a prestigious monument should be erected in Manila instead.

the Magellan monument (courtesy of Nostalgia Filipinas)

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