Ennobling Filipino, Enabling Humanity

Posted on 16 March 2020
By Ian Christopher Alfonso

On 16 March 1521, the first people to voyage around the planet (i.e., Magellan-Elcano expedition) reached Samar, in the soon-to-be Philippines. This, after their death-defying voyage from the Atlantic and then across the Pacific for almost four months, unprecedented in the history of humankind: deprived with nourishment, clean water, and provision, with a number of crew died and stricken with scurvy, even reached the point of desperation to consume human entrails in Guam.

Often regarded in the past as the “discovery of the Philippines” (now a politically incorrect term), the 16 March 1521 in world history is the beginning of our contribution in this achievement of science and humanity. Filipino poet and writer Luis Francia described this episode as “a revival of their lives if not their fortunes” (referring to the expedition). Because two days later, our ancestors from Samar discovered Magellan and his men at Homonhon Island, now under the jurisdiction of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, needing of help. Compassion was exhibited by our ancestors which gave hope to Magellan and his crew.

Beyond hospitality, we Filipinos inherited from our ancestors and forebears the gift of magnanimity. History attests to this: when we received the Japanese Christians banished out of Japan in the late 16th century following the outlawing of Christianity by Emperor Hideyoshi; the humanity our young Republican army showed to the last Spanish soldiers in Baler in 1899, sustaining them with provision while in hiding inside Baler Church for a year; the Open-Door policy of Quezon which saved a thousand Jewish refugees from the Nazis while the world was hesitant to do so; the White Russians expelled out of USSR and communist China in 1949, whom were received in the same town that sheltered Magellan: Guiuan; and many more.

This is the context of the Humanity in the theme of the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines (2021 QCP) as per Executive Order No. 103 (s. 2020). May the commemoration inspire us to be “Bayaning Pilipino sa makabagong panahon” (Filipino heroes in the modern time) not only to our countrymen but to humankind (listen to the 2021 QCP theme song “Bagani” here https://youtu.be/LUYbd4FmCxk). –Originally posted on the official Facebook page of the National Quincentennial Committee on 16 March 2020

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