Do you know who this is?
No, this is not Ferdinand Magellan. This is Miguel López de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Philippines.
Whenever we first learn about Filipino Martial Arts we are always soon introduced to the fallen Ferdinand Magellan at the Battle of Mactan by the chieftain Lapu-Lapu in 1521.
According to Antonio Pigafetta, the Italian historian who was their at the Battle of Mactan and documented his experience.
"When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with ear-shattering loud cries... The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly..."
"Seeing that, Magellan sent some men to burn their houses in order to terrify them. When they saw their houses burning, they were roused to greater fury. Some of our men were killed near the houses, while we burned twenty or thirty houses. So many of them rained down upon us that the captain was shot through the right leg with a poisoned arrow. On that account, he ordered us to a frontal assault. But the men took to flight, except ten to fifteen of us who remained with the captain. The natives shot only at our legs, for the latter were bare; and so many were the spears and stones that they hurled at us, that we could offer no resistance. The mortars in the boats could not aid us as they were too far away."
"Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice... an Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain's face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian's body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all rushed themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off..."
After the Battle
When the body of Magellan was recovered by the warriors, Humabon ordered Lapu-Lapu to return the bodies of Magellan and some of his crew who were killed, and they would be given as much merchandise as they wished. Lapu-Lapu refused.
Some of the soldiers who survived the battle and returned to Cebu were poisoned while attending a feast given by Humabon. Magellan was succeeded by Juan Sebastián Elcano as commander of the expedition, who ordered the immediate departure after Humabon's betrayal. Elcano and his fleet sailed west and returned to Spain in 1522, completing the first circumnavigation of the world.
During the time of the Battle of Mactan, the territory of the Philippine Islands did not exist at the time nor was it named or imagined in such a way. Today, Lapu Lapu is recognized as the first native hero to resist foreign rule but again, the Philippine Islands wasn't established yet and Magellan was defending his interests of the Cebu chieftain Rajah Humabon and not resisting the Philippines as a collective nation since it wasn't one yet.
Food for thought -- Though Lapu Lapu was victorious we do have to take a look at the recorded numbers of 1,500 natives against 49 Spaniards. Even if the native numbers are exaggerated the Spaniards were still severally out numbered and yet they managed to leap out of the ships, fight on the shore, reach and burn houses in the village, make it back to shore and escape all while fighting with numbers 30 to 1. Even if say there were only 300 natives that is still nearly 7 to 1. With numbers like that it would be clear that even with Magellan not having a battle strategy (which he was not a military tactician) the Spaniards clearly must had enormous skill. Something to think about.
The Return of the Spaniards in 1565
After King Phillip II of Spain ordered the expedition to the Philippines (which was named before by Ruy López de Villalobos,) Miguel López de Legazpi was commissioned to lead the expedition with 5oo soldiers. He left New Spain (Mexico) and sailed the Pacific for 93 days. López de Legazpi anchored at the Philippines February 13, 1565. This was the true beginning of the Spanish Colonial Period of the Philippines that lasted until 1898, a total of 333 years.
The Spanish rule officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1898, which ended the Spanish-American War, which also control of the Philippine territories was ceded from Spain to the United States.
Even with the Philippine Revolution, it was the Americans that succeeded over the Spanish rule that then led into the Philippine-American War in 1899.
There are couple of points to reflect on and you can further research.
1. The fall of Magellan was not a Filipino thing since it did not occur during any time the Philippines was established or imagined as a nation.
2. The arrival and governing of Miguel López de Legazpi marks the true beginning of the Spanish Occupation and the important beginnings of the Philippine nation as we know today. (fun side note - Among his fleet was Guido de Lavezarez, who was a survivor of Magellan's expedition.)
3. The López de Legazpi expedition to the Philippines effectively created the Trans-Pacific Manila Galleon trade.
4. The Battle of Manila 1570, led by Martín de Goiti and the Battle of Bangkusay Channel 1571, led by Miguel López de Legazpi.
Why is this important?
It's all part of the research of Kali and the greater blade fighting system. It is important to trace the timeline to the true origins of this knowledge, geometry and mathematics.
We should not be bias to only know and observe little pieces of history just to try and work them entirely into our own agenda. This does absolutely no justice for Kali and the Filipino Martial Arts.
As many agree to give credit where credit is due, Kali (as seen through it's geometry, mathematics and many of the actual blade fighting techniques) is influenced upon European blade fighting influences with largely being from the Spanish Destreza Vulgar and La Verdadera Destreza as we see in the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali geometry, tactics and techniques and Kalis Ilustrisimo techniques from both Spanish and Italian fencing techniques and how these two styles of FMA have largely influenced many other FMA styles practiced today.
As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, if it wasn't for the Filipinos, perhaps these particular methods of blade fighting and technology would not have been preserved, however, if anyone is of the belief that credit is owed to sources and teachers then we cannot ignore this just as the Spanish (Iberians) must give credit for much of their mathematics and learnings from the Greeks and so forth.
The Bias Tendencies against this knowledge and historical facts is the true modern day enemy against Kali and Spanish/Euro influenced Filipino Martial Arts systems and styles. These bias tendencies would only be in effect to sway and control students ideas, thoughts and beliefs of particular teachers and styles of FMA or are due to the lack of research on history by the teachers themselves (which again is irresponsible if including history formally or informally in their teachings.)
For teachers who demand and require credits be given, this would be extremely unethical, deceitful, irresponsible and dishonorable of those teachers. For those teachers who are not concerned with credit be given then this is, well, not relevant.
For those interested in the history of the Philippines and Filipino Martial Arts (since they obviously go hand in hand) I always advise you to do your own research which is very easy to do nowadays if you want to spend a few hours here and there researching across the internet and surf through all the information that is good and not so good.
Please note: in no way does this blog post discredit the great Filipino Martial Arts teachers of past, present and future for preserving and passing down the knowledge of these arts. It is simply to understand that the Battle of Mactan and Fall of Magellan was not the historical beginnings or a single event that established what Filipino Martial Arts or Kali is today and that there is a much larger and deeper history to observe and study in order to keep searching for the truth in this incredible Great System of blade fighting.