Quincentennial marker unveiled in Homonhon Island

18 March 2021

Tacloban City (CNN Philippines, March 18) – The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has installed a new marker at the site of Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s landing in Homonhon Island at Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

The Homonhon marker, located in Sitio Caltilado at Barangay Pagbabangan, is the second marker in Guiuan unveiled by the NHCP to mark the quincentennial anniversary celebration of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.

The marker is installed in the site where Magellan and his crew stayed for eight days. A replica of their galleon ship was installed in the area in 2010.

NHCP chairperson Rene Escalante says that historical accounts reveal that Magellan and his crew were welcomed and treated well by early Suluan residents during their stay in Homonhon. This episode of history unknown to many foreigners and even Filipinos, Escalante added.

“This marker will be a perpetual reminder of our heritage of compassion we are known for 500 years later,” Escalante said.

Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Sanchez says the first contact between Suluan people and Magellan is a signifcant historical event. Only three of five ships that sailed from Spain as part of Magellan’s fleet were able to reach the country.

“That encounter is based on the idea of friendship, humanity, solidarity, especially to the Filipino side,” Ambassador Sanchez said.

In an account written by Antonio Pigeffeta, the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan sailed to Homonhon on March 17, 1521 where they tended their sick crew, and gathered some food. The island was then called Humunu.

Magellan named this new found land mass and its neighboring island as the archipelago of San Lazaro since they were discovered on the Feast day of San Lazaro.

The following day, Magellan and his crew met nine men who were early residents of Suluan. This marked the first encounter between Westerners and Eastern people in the island which later become part of the Philippine archipelago.

The fleet of Magellan left Homonhon on March 25 and sailed towards the direction of Limasawa Island, before proceeding to Cebu.

Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan emphasized the compassion shown by early residents of Suluan to foreigners is something the present generation should emulate.

“I think it is time for us to go back and look back at our history, how we once we’re, how we can be again. We are the heirs of our ancestors who left us with the heritage of kindness,” she said.

At present, Homonhon is known for big mining operations in the region. The grounds of Homonhon are rich in nickel and chromite and some quantities of gold. These are exported for processing in China.

CNN Philippines’ Tacloban City correspondent Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.

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