THE DIARY OF ANTONIO PIGAFETTA
MAGELLAN VOYAGE: A Narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation was edited by RA Skelton and published by Dover Publication in NY
have you ever wondered, my friends, how we were before magellan? or how magellan and company saw limasawa (mazzawa) and cebu (zzubu) in the month of march in 1521?
yes, my dear friends, the entire account of the so-called philippine discovery was captured by the italian antonio pigafetta(one of the members of the magellan voyage) and i'm so impressed by the account that i think, antonio pigafetta should be considered a pinoy author.
he did not know how valuable his diary would become in history and for people like pinoys; the book contains the written account of the circumnavigation including the character of the country and people of what came to be philippines; we must understand that the world would never be proven round until the philippines came along, until magellan was killed, until the voyage survivors took another direction, risking everything, back to spain.
and then, the pen of pigafetta:
--On Monday the eighteenth of March, after dinner, we saw coming toward us a boat with nine men in it. On which the captain-general ordered that no one should move or say anything without his leave. When those people had come in that island, forthwith the most ornately dressed of them went toward the captain-general, showing that he was very happy at our comingâ€¦--
who could have ever thought that with this simple encounter, a new history will be written, a country will be subjugated, a country will be baptized with a new name, an entire indigenous and muslim religion will be wiped out, and the scattered 1,107 islands will be lumped together and be called The Philippines?
nobody has ever written so extensively about Filipinos (when they were not yet known Filipinos) in 1521; nobody has ever written so extensively about pre-spanish philippines since then; and reading the book, i am awed at how our people looked like:
Of The Lord of the People of Humunu -- the lord of those people was old, and had his face painted, and he wore hanging from his ears golden rings which they call Schione, and the others wore many gold bracelets and armlets, with a linen kerchief on their headâ€¦--
Of the Beauty of Raia Calambu - (Antonio Pigafetta did raise my eyebrows with these lines, sorry guys...it's just moi)-- And he was the most handsome person whom we saw among those peoples. He had very black hair to his shoulders, with a silk cloth on his head, and two large gold rings hanging from his ears. He wore a cotton cloth, embroidered with silk, which covered him from his waist to his knees. At his side he had a dagger, with a long handle, and all of gold, the sheath of which was carved wood. Withal he wore on his person perfumes of borax and benzoin. He was tawny and painted all over. His island is called Butuan and Calaghan.-- (one thing I can assure you guys: filipinos started the male ear piercing thing and tattooing of body; you heard it from me, we started the whole concept of punk; the rest of the world is copycat; you don't believe me? go ask lapu-lapu)
it is so amazing! this country called the philippines, the country which many theology scholars consider as the biblical Land of Gold is virtually a paradise the way pigafetta describes it;
--In the island of that king who came to the ship are mines of gold, which is found by digging from the earth large pieces as large as walnuts and eggsâ€¦--
now i close my eyes...i close my eyes to picture the way my forefathers lived - long before their descendents turned into what they are today; it is better to remember my forefathers who lived simplistically, a far cry from the people who populated Jose Rizal's novels; a far cry from the politicians and the trash we have in the philippines today...
nowadays, i have the impression that what's being talked about in the philippines is the same political topic and the same five to ten people we've been talking about for the past thirty years... ain't we missing some kind'a variety?... yeah, no one will bother to feature the lives and times of ancient pinoys but wait for Madam to sneeze and the whole philippine media is right there on the spot measuring, scrutinizing, figuring her booger, ain't we sick and tired of that?
the reason why i ask this is because it took me to go to america to realize there was a diary by pigafetta; no one bothered to teach me, or show me or describe to me the life of filipinos before the spaniards - oh yes there were cooked books by foreigners - our history the way it was taught by these books was bland, no images or drama - and boys like me PROMDI provinces were deprived of access to this knowledge...
no one told me for example, that there was once a queen in the philippines who i imagine now coming towards me:
--That day we baptized eight hundred persons, men, women, and children. The queen was young and beautiful, covered with a white and black cloth. She had very red mouth and nails, and wore on her head a large hat made of palm leaves, with a crown above made of the same leaves, after the fashion of the Pope's. And she never goes into any place without one of these crownsâ€¦--
about our music and beautiful women:
-- The prince, nephew of this king, led us to his house, and showed us four girls who were playing on four very strange and very sweet instruments, and their manner of playing was rather musical. One played on a taborin after our fashion, but it stood on the ground. Another was striking, with a thick stick wrapped at the head with a palm leaf, the bottom of two instruments shaped like a long taborin. Another was striking another larger instrument in the same manner. And the last, with two other similar instruments, one in one hand and the other in the other. And they struck in harmony, making a very sweet sound. These girls were very beautiful, and almost white and as tall as ours. They were naked, except that from the waist to the knees they wore a garment made from the said palm cloth, covering their nature.--
only the westerners did notice the nakedness...our folk didn't give a damn as long as they were comfortable, i bet.
on making wine:
--- ... an aperture into the heart of the tree at its top which is called palmito, from which is distilled along the tree a liquor like white must, which is sweet with a touch of greenness. Then they take canes as thick as a man's leg, by which they draw off this liquor, fastening them to the tree from the evening until the next morning, and from morning to the evening, so that the said liquor comes little by littleâ€¦---
furthermore, about the coconut:
-- from the center of this marrow there flows a water which is clear and sweet and very refreshing and when it stands and settles it congeals and becomes like an apple. And then they take this fruit called cocho and put it in the sun and let the said marrow putrefy and ferment in the water, then they boil it, and it becomes oil like butter....--
-- they have very large domestic cocks, which they do not eat for a certain veneration they have for them. Sometimes they make joust and fight against one another, and each man stakes a wager on his own; then he whose cock is victorious takes the other man's cock and wager.
They have wine distilled from rice, stronger and better than that of the palmâ€¦--
different housing and economy:
-- On Sunday the seventh of April, about noon, we entered the port of zzubu, having passed by many villages, where we saw some houses which were built on trees...
Those people live in justice, having weights and measure, and loving peace, and they are men of goodwill. They have wooden scales in the fashion of Pardeca, for weighing merchandise. Their houses are built of wood, and of planks and bamboo, raised on piers, and are high so that you must climb up to them by ladders. Their rooms are like ours and below them, they keep their cattle such as pigs, goats and fowlsâ€¦--
And how they negotiated:
ten weights of gold = 14 pounds of iron
each weight is a ducat and a half
for candles and lighting:
--...they use gum from a tree called Anime, wrapped in leaves of palm or of fig.--
and i'm glad i"ve witnessed this refreshment carried out by my grandmother, one day, i'm gonna try it for myself:
they chew most of the time a fruit called Areca, (my grandma called it Luyus) cut into four quarters (I used to cut this fruit for my grandmother) then they wrap it in leaves of a tree called Beltre (my grandmother called the leaves Samat) they mix it with lime and chew the whole thing. my grandmother of course added a little chewing tobacco - since i quit smoking, i have been wondering...maybe it's time for me to have a red mouth - teeth, gums, tongue and all ...ain't that a statement? I'm telling you, give me these ingredients right now and I'm gonna start chewing and spitting in a little can hehehe.