Sunday, January 17, 2010

The First Circumnavigation of the World

January is synonymous to the feast of the Santo Niño of Cebu. When we talk about the child Jesus, we cannot take out Ferdinand Magellan, the person responsible for bringing the sacred image to Philippine shores in 1521.

Magellan, a Portuguese, led the first circumnavigation of the world after convincing King Charles I of Spain to grant him funds for his expedition on March 22, 1518. He obtained five ships and named them Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Victoria and Santiago. With 270 men, he set sail in September. On March 16, 1521, Magellan arrived in the Philippines and the rest is history.

Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian crewmember kept a diary that chronicled Magellan's voyage. After Magellan's death in Mactan, Juan Sebastian Elcano took over the remaining three ships along with 115 survivors and left the Philippines for the Moluccas (Spice Islands). They arrived back to Spain in 1522.

This historical event is beautifully captured on Philippine stamps released by the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) on November 11, 2002. The four stamps feature Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan, King Charles I of Spain, and Juan Sebastian Elcano. A souvenir sheet is also issued that shows King Charles I and a world map.

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