GROUP ACTIVITY FOR PIGAFETTA ACCOUNT
ESCARRO, Marielle // EVANGELISTA, Neil // FABROS, Alona // FRANCISCO, Rholand // GUEVARRA, Katrina
1. Why do you think the meeting between the Spanish visitors and the natives were generally peaceful and pleasant?
The Spanish visitors came to achieve their goal of 3Gs, which is God, Gold, and Glory. Included in their goals are to get the spices from Spice Island. When they arrived, they knew that their first meeting with the natives should be pleasant, knowing that this would have a great effect in the case that they would need to meet other natives.
The visitors treated the natives as “important traders,” since to trade is one of their primary goals in their voyage. Moreover, they have been traveling for so long and have endured the lack of food supplies, they were desperate to find a place to stop and rest.
In the account of Pigafetta, he clearly stated that “Those people seeing us departing followed us with more than one hundred boats for more than one league.
They approached the ships showing us fish, feigning that they would give them to us;…” It clearly states and describes the native Filipinos were pleased to welcome the foreigners for they have not seen other kinds of human beings for as long as their existence persist to live, some may be only are used to Chinese because of trading as well.
Another indicator of the passionate welcome of the Filipinos to these unknown travelers is there a lot of scenarios wherein when they reached a new island, they would trade a lot of their merchandise and goods to the travelers in acquisition of products that were not evident at the time in the Philippines, like mortars, artilleries, basic commodities, etc. Native Filipinos were fond of these kinds of materials, without knowing they were trading precious gold, porcelain, animals, and silk that are in fact today are very much expensive and have intrinsic value. Even slaves are being traded, which is not good at all, but not considered immoral at the time.
The blood compact which symbolizes the trust and friendship of the voyagers and the royal natives can be taken into account as an insignia of the bond between Spain and the Pre – Colonial Philippines.
Though the voyagers were only to find spices for their cuisines, the captain, Magallanes, urged the Spaniards to not be easily enchanted and tempt by wealth and greed in the Gold that they were trading. Hence they don’t want any grievances nor misunderstanding because of their goal in the expedition.
2. Describe the significance of gold in the local setting as elaborated by Pigafetta.
There are a lot of times that Pigafetta stated that gold is very much evident and abundant in the Philippines and the native Filipinos are fond and intellectual in using the said gold in myriad number of ways.
One instance that gold was very much used during those times as a fashion trend or statement in accordance with the hierarchy of the community. To see gold worn by people in the time of the expedition was somehow normal since that was the time of its abundance in the Philippines. The people, especially the kings, wore gold on their ears, around their necks, across their chests, and even around their waists. “They exhibited great signs of pleasure at seeing us… Their seignior was an old man who was painted. He wore two gold earrings in his ears, and the others many gold armlets on their arms and kerchiefs about their heads,” stated in a part of Pigafetta’s account.
Another instance is the use of gold in their basic tools and everyday utensils used by royal natives or kings. Stated in the account that, “Pieces of gold, of the size of walnuts and eggs, are found by sifting the earth in the island of that king whom I led to our ships. All the dishes of that king are of gold and also some portion of his house, as we’re told by the king himself.”
But the most evident and popular use of Gold is in their trading session with other cultures and communities who are traveling and setting offshore their beaches to seek for other merchandise that can be useful in a trade that they think is beneficial in their society to help the foster as a cultural community.
In retrospect, when it comes to the colonization in the times of pre-colonial Philippines, things didn’t seem normal, more like or somehow chaotic. Uttering of specific words can mean a lot and can be misunderstood if not interpreted properly to the notions of the society you are trying to persuade.
The Spanish visitors came with numerous armed men distributed to a few ships. The captain told one native that one of his armed men is worth one hundred of their men. Seeing and hearing this frightened the natives, but the captain cleared that they came as friends, and not as enemies so that they would not feel fear as to what the visitors are capable of doing to their enemies.
Along with these words uttered by Magallanes, we can extract key points of optimism and threat to both sides who are involved in the dialogue. A positive note for both sides is that there is an assurance of peace and harmony on both parties if and only if the two would come into terms that will suffice the needs and wants of each side. It can only be done through correct and understandable conversation in accordance with needed behavior to interact with sensitive people and war nor combat should not take place during the course of their stay. Another positive thing we can extract from this is that it is clear that the foreigners only want to trade and seek for things they have never seen before, and not to colonize the land if we are to think to it subjectively in the point of view of the natives.
On the contrary, the negative effect of the message may be rooted in two angles. First, we can comprehend that the way the sentence or the message was constructed has a touch of arrogance for it conveys that they think that native Filipinos are rabid savages and are barbaric and extreme caution must be observed when interacting with these people. Second is that it struck fear and anger towards the Filipino natives. If we are to understand their subjective opinion of the passage, it has regarded them in a sense that they are being disrespected in their respective land which is not good if you are to have a good impression to these natives.
4. Compare and contrast the Pigafetta Account to Philippine History Textbook by discussing at least three pre 16th practices of the natives that are commonly elaborated in our secondary sources.
a. Paganism and Christianity.
On the Pigafetta account, when the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, Magellan asked the natives about their religion. On his account showed more thorough details about the natives religion. Comparing the Pigafetta account and F. H. Engels writing in Pearls and Coconuts, the natives practice paganism before the Spaniards arrived. When asked on how they worship they answered that they have no other worship except raising their hands and saying Abba! Abba (also known as May Kapal or Bathala) as their Supreme God. They worship painted icons and offered sacrifices for their idols. According to H. de la Costa, S. J. there are different gods from sea gods to river gods from a different town, each has a unique name for each town. But these gods are generally called diuata. The people also offer pigs as their sacrifice to their gods.
Molina, A. M. The Philippines Through the Centuries. University of Santo TomasDe La Costa, H. (1965) Readings in Philippine History. NAEngel, F. H. Pearls and Coconuts. NA
The ideal religion among the Filipinos at the time of conquest is Mohammedanism or Paganism whose center is Bathala. Filipinos were considered to have a hazily attained perception of a supreme being, considering even their religious notions were full of spiritism and are corrupted with gross and material practices and rituals.
Leroy, J.A.(2005) Philippine Life in Town and Country. New York, London: G. P. Putnams Sons, 1905
b. Blood Compact
Political stability was secured when contending chiefs established alliances by marriage or through the sanduguan, also known as the blood brotherhood ritual, a rite sacred to the participants who considered that all who would not involve themselves in the said ritual will be considered enemies.
As stated in the Pigafetta account, “…and if the captain wished to become his friend, he should send him a drop of blood from his right arm, and he himself would do the same [to him] as a sign of the most sincere friendship. This line tells us about the importance of the ritual or custom in conveying the message of wanting a sincere friendship or in accepting the other party’s offer. However, in the account, they convened in other different rituals that would give the same idea as the blood compact.
Dery, L.C. (2006) Pestilence in the Philippines: A Social History of the Filipino People, 1571-1800. New Day Publisher
c. Looks, Features, and Fashion Sense of Natives
According to H. de la Costa, S. J., before the Spaniards came to our country, the dress or costume for men are coats of cangan without collars. It has short sleeves and length of a little below the waist. It can be blue or black and a bit colorful for the chief men, and they call it chininas. Bahaques is what they call to cover their middle part down to the thigh. Their legs and feet are bare. They also wear potong for their headdress, a small piece of cloth wrapped around the forehead. For men’s fashion, they wear gold chains that caused wounds around their neck. Calombigas, the bracelets on their arms are made of gold, heavy and thick with different patterns. It is similar to Pigafettas account where he stated that the king that time wore gold earrings in his ears and gold armlets on their arms.For women, they wear a little garment with sleeves of any colors which they call varos. Some white cotton wraps covered their waist down to their feet. They also wear cloaks or any other colored garment. Just like the men, they also put calombigas (bracelets) on their wrist, earrings and rings that are made from gold and precious stones. Men and women that time were very clean and elegant in terms of dress and personality.
de la Costa, H. (1965) Readings in Philippine History