The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has presented the first of four quincentennial historical markers in Palawan, with the aim of raising public awareness of the province’s significance during the Magellan-Elcano expedition.
It was presented in Sitio Marikit, Barangay San Juan in Aborlan municipality on September 22 by the Palawan Studies Center of Palawan State University (PSU), which represented the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) and the NHCP.
Aborlan was important in the Magellan-Elcano voyage in the Philippines, according to PSU Prof. Michael Angelo Doblado, head of the studies center, since it was where Juan Sebastian Elcano was supposed to have landed after Ferdinand Magellan’s death but was chased away by belligerent Tagbanua tribes.
Following Magellan’s death in Mactan, his crew continued their voyage and made several landfalls in Palawan, according to Doblado’s research for NHCP in 2019.
Four of the 34 quincentennial historical markers that the historical commission will place throughout the Philippines will be in the province — the first in Aborlan, the others in Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, and Balabac. The Aborlan marker is the 20th to be installed.
“Na-transfer na natin sa local government of Aborlan ang pangangalaga at pagpapanatili sa historical marker, nagkaroon din ng pirmahan ng certificate of transfer—nakakatuwa kasi ang gusto ni [Mayor Celsa Adier ay] mapalaganap ito sa kaniyang bayan kasi hindi dati alam, pero ngayon ay na-discover na. Gusto niya na matutunan ito ng mga taga-Aborlan,” he said.
“Isang aspeto naman for Palawan history is the fact na nabigyan ng balanse kasi kapag sinabi natin na kasaysayan, panahon ng Kastila, talagang bida ang north. Lalo napakaraming simbahan sa kanila, iyon talaga ang tinatawag natin na ebidensya ng presence ng mga Kastila. Dito sa south, wala. Pero dito sa ating pag-aaral, pinapakita na nauna pala pumunta ang mga Kastila sa south,” Doblado added.
The historical markers in Brooke’s Point, Balabac, and Bataraza were scheduled to be presented on September 24th, 27th, and 30th, respectively. However, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, the towns’ local government units (LGUs) agreed to a delay.
The NHCP said that all historical markers should be unveiled by October 30 to give way for the competition of the best site for the marker. The primary requirement in the position of the marker must be beside the sea or facing the sea.
In 1522, the Magellan voyage, also known as the Magellan-Elcano expedition, completed the first known circumnavigation of the globe. Many believe it is one of the most significant events in history because of its scientific, socioeconomic, political, philosophical, and religious ramifications.
Doblado previously said that Elcano’s crew landed at Palawan’s Old Aborlan shores in the hopes of finding food supplies following Magellan’s setback in Mactan.
He said the Tagbanuas drove the Spaniards away for reasons that are yet unknown. He speculated, however, that the Tagbanuas maye mistook them for pirates looking for slaves.
After an unsuccessful effort to land their ships on the Old Aborlan beach, Elcano attempted to go north but was hampered by the severe monsoon and disheartened by their decreasing food supplies, Doblado added.
Local history to a younger audience
The purpose of the study, Doblado explained, is to make Araling Panlipunan more accessible to a younger audience by developing learning materials or modules that will improve its teaching in elementary school and history in secondary school.
It will also be included in the Palawan Studies subject, which covers the geography, history, and culture of Palawan and is offered to PSU college students.
“Usually naman kapag nagturo ka ng kasaysayan, ang sinusunod natin ay major na chapters—bago dumating ang Kastila, pagdating ng Kastila, pagdating ng Amerikano. Ngayon, pwede na tayo magturo sa mga estudyante sa Palawan na ito ang ating espesyal o unique na karanasan, dumating sa atin ang mga Kastila. Iyong surviving crew ng Magellan-Elcano expedition,” he said.
“Itong pag-aaral natin na ito ay maibabahagi natin sa mga estudyante ng PSU dito sa subject ng Palawan Studies, sa history part. At nakakatuwa na in-offer ang subject na ito noong 2018, na-publish ang study natin ngayong 2020—maidadagdag ito ngayon bilang bagong lesson. Dahil ang PSU ay napakalawak, maraming campuses, malaki ang saklaw niya. Maraming Palawenyong kabataan ang makakaalam nito,” he said.
Doblado’s paper was also published in the Journal of Philippine Local History & Heritage issued in February 2020. He said their difficulty is to convert the article into a language that a younger audience can understand so that they can enjoy it.
Palawan Studies Center
Doblado also stated that the Palawan Studies Center is collaborating with the city government on the cultural mapping of Puerto Princesa to identify historical importance in each barangay.
The team already mapped 80 percent of the 66 barangays of the city, and the data that had already been gathered are already uploaded in an application provided by the University of Santo Tomas. The data will also be used by the city government for the tourism development plan and city tour.
“Maraming kwento pa, pasok lahat. Kung may unique na paraan ng paghahabi, putahe, paraan ng pagluluto. Lahat ‘yan ay pinag-aaralan sa cultural mapping,” he said.
Meanwhile, Aborlan Mayor Celsa Adier said she believes that the installation of the historical marker in Sitio Marikit will boost the tourism industry of the town.
She added that she has instructed the town’s Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) and Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) to establish agro-tourism projects in Brgy. San Juan to help the community with the expected influx of tourists in the area where the historical marker was installed.
“Para na rin natin itong landmark. Naniniwala tayo marami ang gustong makita ang marker kaya magdadala ito ng potential sa tourism natin balang araw. Paplanuhin natin kung anong klaseng project para diyan,” said Adier, Saturday, September 25.
“Siyempre may attraction na diyan. Pwede nang magnegosyo ang mga tao sa paligid, para sa additional income nila,” she added.
She also stated that at first, she cannot believe that after fleeing Mactan, the Magellan-Elcano expedition crew made a stopover in Aborlan.
“I cannot believe pa rin na isa tayo sa dinaanan ni Magellan at magdadala pala ito ng tourism potential sa atin. Nakakatuwa at salamat sa mga nag-research nito at nag-aral, sa National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” she stated.
Proclamation No. 1128, s. 2021, according to NHCP, declares 2021 the “Year of Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors” in celebration of the victory of Lapu-Lapu in the Battle of Mactan.
This year also commemorates the 500th anniversary of the country’s participation in the world’s first circumnavigation, a scientific and human accomplishment. (with reports from Ruil Alabi)