Gonzales: We Will Not Celebrate 'Discovery of the Philippines'

Posted on 22 March 2021
By NQC Secretariat

appointed Undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Anthony Gerard Gonzales reiterated in his message during the goodwill port call of the Spanish Navy Training Ship Juan Sebastian Elcano last March 20 the firmed stand of the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) that the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines (2021 QCP) will not celebrate the so-called ‘discovery of the Philippines.’

“[A] lot of people are still confused why are we commemorating the coming of the Spaniards in the Philippines. Is the Magellan-Elcano expedition our history?,” Gonzales said.

Usec. Anthony Gerard Gonzales represents the National Quincentennial Committee in the goodwill port call of the Spanish Navy Training Ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano.

“The NQC had already settled this issue during its first meeting in June 2018. The committee assures the Filipino people that we will not celebrate the ‘discovery of the Philippines.’ We will commemorate the quincentennial the Filipino way, which means we will raise the awareness of our countrymen about the rich yet challenging pre-Hispanic or pre-colonial history. It is rich because, for thousands of years before 1521, our ancestors were already existing and thriving in these islands of Southeast Asia.”

The OPAV Undersecretary is a regular member of the NQC on behalf of the Visayas. He addressed the concern of understanding “our ancestors while commemorating the quincentennial—their society, belief system, customs, world view.” “We need to represent our ancestors well, in writing and in artistic depiction,” he added. He calls the Filipino people to depict our ancestors based on the latest researches and studies by historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists to prevent the mistakes proliferated by orientalist, racist, and exoticized Western depictions.

“The quincentennial commemorations are our platform to bring forth our own view and voice of what happened 500 years ago, yet grateful to the recorded history by the Europeans, especially Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the expedition,” he furthered. Instead of focusing on the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the NQC wants the Filipino people to join the rest of humankind in acknowledging the achievement of science and humanity of encircling the planet for the first time.

Gonzales also iterated that the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines began in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on March 16 and will last until October 28, which is the 500th anniversary of the exit of the Magellan-Elcano expedition from the Philippine waters via Sarangani Island, Davao Occidental. He also enumerated that under this framework the NQC leads the country in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world instead of the Eurocentric ‘discovery of the Philippines’ and the associated milestones, the Humanity at Homonhon commemorated in Guiuan on March 18, the Easter Sunday Mass in Limasawa on March 31, the baptism in Cebu or the 500 Years of Christianity in Cebu on April 14, and the Victory at Mactan on April 27. He acknowledged the support of the Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines Jorge Moragas who have graced the first four days of the commemorations in Guiuan and worked out with the NQC the visitation of their training ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano.

The port call of the Spanish Navy Training Ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano was organized by the NQC in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines, Cebu City Government, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Cebu Ports Authority, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Lapu-Lapu City Government, and Radio-Television Malacañang.

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