Disease, rebellion, and unknown waters have virtually hindered the expedition around the world led by Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan. Five centuries later, the plague comes as a tall ship of the Spanish Navy sails to commemorate its feat.
After leaving Europe in August, Juan Sebastián de Elcano, named after Captain Basque, who completed the voyage in 1519-1522, along with 17 of its approximately 240 crew members, anchored around Latin America. Visitors were not allowed on board and the crew disembarked at only a few locations, including Dawson Island in Chile in the Strait of Magellan and San Lorenzo Island in Peru.
Covid-19, Lt. Luis Martínez García, the ship’s public information officer, e-mailed from the ship, “After confirming that the environment was completely free.” The ship departs across the Pacific Ocean from Mexico on Friday.
Magellan’s expedition for Spanish trade and imperialism paved the way west from Europe to the Spice Islands, the Maluku Archipelago in Indonesia today. This epic story evokes an appreciation for the rewards and dangers of a world connected with conflicting and overlapping views of history.
Joyce Chaplin, an early professor of American history at Harvard University and author of “Circle Around Earth: A Circle from Magellan to Orbit,” said “It was literally the first action humans took on a planetary scale.”
“It wasn’t until the 19th century that it became a safer journey, and it became a popular pastime, as in Jules Verne’s’round the world in 80 days’,” Chaplin said. “Now we, like early navigators, worry that taking the entire planet is a deadly business, given the way our collective impact on the planet is destroying species and ecosystems.
Magellan crossed the strait between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean in his name in modern Chile. President Sebastian Finera said the recent voyage was “to break down walls and build bridges where ideas, people, knowledge and culture freely flow today.”
Magellan, a daring navigator with Portuguese military experience in Africa and Asia, was later driven out by Spanish rival Portugal, who was distrusted by the Spanish sailors in his fleet. Although Magellan’s expedition exploited the natives, Christopher Columbus is a far more divisive figure for his role in the violent colonization of America today.
The interpreter of Magellan, an enslaved Malay that the Spaniards call Enrique, was celebrated in parts of Southeast Asia. Malay writer Harun Aminurrashid wrote his novel “Panglima Awang” in 1958, which contributed to regional identity when Malaysia violated British rule.
The interpreter “should escape from the shadow of Magellan,” said Ahmad Murad Merican, professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization at the International University of Islamic Malaysia.
Described as a subordinate in the European account, the interpreter has since been discussed as a “diplomat and linguist” who aroused interest in “Malay sailing skills, boat building, and the expansion of Malay travel across the sea.”
Some speculate that the interpreter might be the first to travel around the world as a separate step. It would have been possible if Magellan had died on April 27, 1521, and then continued to move west to his Malay hometown, fighting warriors in the current Philippines. Some records at the time indicated that the interpreter betrayed the expedition after Magellan’s death.
In 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Du Terte designated April 27 as a national holiday in honor of Chief Lapu-Lapu, who killed Magellan. Lapu-Lapu is named after a widely eaten fish, revered for resisting foreign intervention.
Magellan is known for introducing Christianity in the Philippines, now the largest Roman Catholic country in Asia. But he reminds me of his last lyrics from comedian Yoyoi Villame’s song “Magellan”: “Mom, Mom, I’m sick / Call the doctor very quickly / Doctor, doctor, will I die?”
Celia Anna M. Feria, Portuguese Ambassador to the Philippines, told Magellan a year ago at a conference in Lisbon on the Philippines: “We are not aiming to rewrite our history. But, she said, “we are working on separate elements of history.”
Feria described the “majesty and humanity” of the Magellan era, now Filipino during the Magellan period, and said that it was woven bamboo and palm mats by dignitaries (except Lapu-Lapu).
Philippine professor Ambeth Ocampo, who attended the Lisbon conference, said history is about perspective. In a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he said in monuments, movies, cartoons, and even disposable baby diapers advertisements, “History retires with the hopeful or eager image of a hero,” because few details about Lapu-Lapu were recorded.
Jesús Baigorri Jalón, a UN interpreter and a scholar at the University of Salamanca, Spain, said the coexistence of Muslims, Judaism, and Christianity in what became Spain showed that cultural mixtures were common long before Magellan’s expedition.
Baigorizalon said, “The idea of classifying a’multicultural’ society as a novelty of our time reflects the ignorance or ignorance of our history, colonial forces and colonial forces.
Laurence Bergreen, author of “The End of the World: Magellan’s Terrible Round of Earth,” says Magellan and his crew inadvertently demonstrated the connection that shapes humanity today by showing that it can be reached through water from anywhere in the world.
“There was a singular event on 9/11 that the world responded to, and it felt like the whole world was connected in some way and vulnerable in some way,” said Bergreen, who worked on this book. Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 US attack time.
“Well, it’s been almost 20 years now and there’s an epidemic, but it’s kind of the same thing that there are events that affect everyone around the world,” he said. “So there’s a feeling that there’s some sort of common fate between people who don’t know others or really care very much about them.”
The Spanish naval ship on the commemorative tour is a “small city” with engine power, satellite systems, garbage and wastewater treatment, medical teams, fresh bread every morning, movies and other recreational activities, said Deputy Commander Fernando García. Blog post on December 13.
Regarding the pandemic, García said, “While other countries have canceled or postponed similar trips, Spain is moving on, mimicking the great achievements it completed 500 years ago.”
Now anchored in the port of Manzanillo, Mexico, this four-mast ship is set to return to Spain in July to complete its 11-month voyage.