A screenshot of a poll from a private Facebook group asking who “discovered” the Philippines has been circulating on social media. Strangely, the two choices are American rapper Nicki Minaj and the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
Magellan was part of a group that arrived on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar on Mar. 16, 1521. Five hundred years after his arrival, the National Quincentennial Committee organized various events related to the commemoration of the Philippines’ part in the first circumnavigation of the world.
As to why Minaj was included among the choices, the American rapper bears an uncanny resemblance to an unidentified Filipino woman from the Spanish colonial era. A TikTok user even uploaded a video about Minaj’s fictitious discovery of the Philippines.
Although the poll is obviously meant to be taken lightheartedly, both of the choices are wrong. One is impossible and the other is incorrect: Magellan didn’t “discover” the Philippines. Indigenous peoples have already been living in the country way before the Spaniards came. Many history books, unfortunately, still propagate this idea — the consequence of a Eurocentric view of a historical event.
But this debate on whose historical narrative is accurate has been going on for many decades. According to one narrative, the “discovery” of the Philippines is a “celebration of its [Spanish Crown] role in the wonders of nautical science.” For the Philippines, it’s an “arrival of an intruder.”
The blunder of the poll was quickly called out by several Reddit users.
“Both false, Magellan simply landed on our shores. There are a lot of people all over the islands already. This narrative that Magellan ‘discovered’ the Philippines is simply a mind conditioning in our education system in favor of the colonizers,” one user commented.
“Fernando Magallanes didn’t discover Philippines,” another one wrote. “Indigenous people are already here before he came, he invaded it and forced ChRistiAniTy on locals and removed our original culture.”
Incidentally, the arrival of the Spanish training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano in Samar last year was met with lukewarm response.
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