The Spanish Colonization that lasted for 3 Centuries (Part 2)

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Previously, I discussed the Magellan-Elcano Expedition that lasted for 2 years, from 1519 to 1522. As promised, I'll bring together my previous articles piece by piece, along with discoveries & new sources why the Colonial Rule of the Spaniards lasted for 333 years. So, let's continue.

The Aftermath of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition

After the expedition, the Portuguese explorer made an alliance in the name of the Kingdom of Spain with the local chiefs of Limasawa, Southern Leyte in exchange for territorial conquest and converting their religious beliefs to Catholicism.

As they began to spread Christianity in the Visayan Islands, only the island of Mactan resisted the expedition. It was well defended and the Europeans were overpowered but Magellan met his fate as the rest of his crew continued to circumnavigate the world.

An An artist from the 19th Century depicts Magellan's death at the Battle of Mactan.

For his gifts given to our local chiefs, the image of Santo Niño de Cebu became the island's patron, which is celebrated annually up to this day. Magellan was branded as a traitor of the Portuguese kingdom when he sailed for Spain. His reputation and legacy left a mark in the Age of Discovery.

Many attempted to re-trace his voyage to the Far East, but in 1541, another expedition was sent to Islas de Poniente (the Islands of the West - a previous name of the Philippines), this time commissioned by the Viceroy of New Spain - Antonio de Mendoza.

The Villalobos Expedition

Ruy Lopez de Villalobos

Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, a Spanish explorer commissioned by the Viceroy in 1541, consisting of 6 galleon ships, with 370 to 400 men on board left Barra de Navidad, Mexico on November 1, 1542.

From their voyage, they encountered first the islands of Revilla Gigedo off the west coast of Mexico, then Roca Partida followed by a group of islands in the Marshalls called Corales (Corals) on December 26, 1542. With their exploration around the Marshall Islands, one of their ships was separated during a storm between January 6 and 23, 1543.

A galleon named San Cristobal captained by Gines de Mafra, who was a crew of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition, was separated from the fleet during a severe storm, and eventually reached the island of Limasawa, Southern Leyte. This would be de Mafra's second time to visit the island.

Villalobos' arrival in the Philippines

On February 29, 1543, they anchored at Baganga Bay, which they named Malaga on the eastern coast of Mindanao. The fleet stayed for a month, and the entire crew suffered from extreme hunger but they could not sail on due to low-winds. Until they reached Sarangani after several days.

Their other ships San Cristobal, and San Juan were sent back to Leyte and Samar to collect more food on August 4, 1543, while San Juan headed back from the Pacific to Mexico for stockpiling their supplies. Bernardo de la Torre at the helm of San Juan with his crew left Mexico on August 27, 1543.

Villalobos named the islands of Leyte & Samar as Las Islas Pilipinas (the Philippine Islands) in honor of Prince Philip II. From encountering the natives of Limasawa to experiencing hunger in extreme conditions, and faced discrimination by the Portuguese, Villalobos was forced to abandon the expedition and his settlements on the island. He and the rest of his crew were imprisoned by the Portuguese in the Moluccas.

Villalobos died on April 4, 1544, inside his prison cell at Amboyna, Indonesia. Gines de Mafra, Guido de Lavezaris, and 117 crew members survived the expedition. 21 years later, another expedition was sent to the Philippines.

The Legazpi Expedition

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was commissioned by Viceroy Luis de Velasco in 1564, to lead an expedition in the Pacific Ocean and search the Islands of the West. It was ordered by Philip II, now King of Spain at that time when Ruy Lopez de Villalobos named after our country to him.

The new expedition consists of 5 ships, with 500 men left Barra de Navidad, Mexico in November 1564. Members of the expedition were only a few members of his family, Melchor de Legazpi (Miguel's son), and Felipe de Salcedo (Miguel's grandson). Guido de Lavezarez who was a survivor of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition, and 6 Augustinian missionaries, including Padre Andres de Urdaneta, Miguel's spiritual advisor, and navigator.

They sailed the Pacific Ocean for 93 days, as they reached the Mariana Islands to resupply their equipment, then resumed their expedition as they landed at Cebu on February 13, 1565. 9 days later (February 22, 1565), they reached the island of Samar.

Miguel's arrival in the Philippines

Miguel allied with Datu Urrao, followed by series of alliances as they went to Limasawa, where he met Datu Bankaw, then to Bohol as he befriended Datu Sikatuna and Rajah Sigala on March 16, 1565. He wanted this expedition to be peaceful, but these efforts were rejected as he was challenged by Rajah Tupas when they returned to Cebu.

On April 27, 1565, he opened fire on the Rajah's enforcement and burnt the coastal town, 1500 homes were destroyed and 500 people died. From the ruins of the destruction, Juan Camus - a Spanish mariner found the image of Santo Niño in a pine box.

Legend says that the image's survival was seen as a miracle. As for the Spaniards, they established a colony named Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus) after the image of Santo Niño de Cebu, the oldest Catholic artifact in the Philippines, and the island's patron which they celebrate the annual festival called Sinulog-Santo Niño up to this day (video below).

During Villalobos' voyage, he named our country after a living prince, then turned King of Spain during Legazpi's expedition, and that's how the Santo Niño de Cebu started to become an annual festival after the holiday season. But I need to stop here as I'll continue Miguel's voyage from the island of Panay to discover new riches up north in Luzon on my next article.

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