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Look for 'Bajo de Masinloc' in maps of Spanish-era Phl on exhibit this summer

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From June 26 to July 30, this year, several old maps of the Philippines during the Spanish colonization period of the country (1598 to 1898) will be on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, next to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Roxas Blvd.

This exhibition celebrates 300 years of Philippine maps, some of which are heirlooms of Spaniards who agreed -- albeit after much assurance of their safety -- to lend them to the Spanish embassy in Manila, organizers said.

Look for "Bajo de Masinloc," also named “Panatag” by Philippine authorities, in those maps and determine for yourself whose territory it is and under whose maritime jurisdiction it should be.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) asserts that the Spanish name alone speaks for the legality of Philippine sovereignty.
Lectures will be held in various colleges and universities in Manila in the framework of this exhibit, according to the major organizer, the Instituto de Cervantes of Spain.

The exhibition and a symposium on the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 are among the features of this year’s commemoration of Spanish-Friendship Day in Manila in June.

Maps in the days of yore are some of the evidences that both the Philippines and China are invoking in their respective claims of territorial sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction of the internationally-referred Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
The Chinese call the Scarborough “Huangyan-dao” and their argument is that the area has been theirs since time immemorial or as early as its Han Dynastry (2 BC) to fish in, have jurisdiction over and are presently administering.

On the other hand, the Philippines cites an early and “most accurate map” of the area -- named “Bajo de Masinloc” by the Spanish regime of the time -- the Carta Hydrographical y Chorographica De Las Yslas Filipinas by the Jesuit priest Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, and published in 1734. "Bajo de Masinloc" as part of the northwestern Philippine province of Zambales is indicated in that map.
”In 1792, another map drawn by the Alejandro Malaspina expedition and published in 1808 in Madrid, Spain, also showed Bajo de Masinloc as part of Philippine territory. This map showed the route of the Malaspina expedition to and around the shoal. It was reproduced in the Atlas of the 1939 Philippine Census,” DFA said.

DFA noted that lately, the “Mapa General, Islas Filipinas, Observatorio de Manila,” published in 1990 by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, also included Bajo de Masinloc as part of the Philippines.

In other words, the romance of the imperial past -- when China, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, and to some extent Russia, Japan and Italy, were the greatest navies and seafarers and territory-claimers and markers of "nullius terra" (areas with no known sovereignty) are now before the Filipinos as the Beijing-Manila dispute over the Huangyan/Panatag remains unsolved.

Where are these maps? May be they will also be at the exhibit.
Filipinos would have to look at these maps to have an inkling of how the Philippines came to be originally named “Las Islas Filipinas” after the then Spanish King Philip II, and why our authorities believe that Bajo de Masinloc is ours to have and cherish with all our hearts.
After all, jus soli is being a Filipino.

by Gloria Jane Baylon




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