More than geography and political territories, ancient maps inform tales about historical past, battle, tradition, commerce and even myths.
This most likely explains the enthusiasm of map collector Jaime Laya as he excursions Lifestyle round the present exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, “Mapping the Philippine Seas.”
As the backgrounder says, it showcases “rare historical maps and charts of the archipelago drawn from the early 16th century to the end of the 19th century.”
Laya confirmed how these seemingly innocuous data have been used not solely to hint shorelines and topography, but additionally to point commerce routes, cultural practices, early types of racial profiling, and even the occasional red herring meant to throw off a navigational rival.
Laya additionally collects uncommon books, work, antiques and all method of valuable tchotchkes (“Name it, I probably have it”).
Laya is a part of a handful of quiet however very educated group of fans referred to as the Philippine Map Collectors Society (Phimcos) that celebrates the 10th yr of its basis with an exhibit of 165 authentic maps and sea charts from their very own collections, the Government Service Insurance System’s assortment, and others in the non-public sector.
The oldest on show is a map mentioned to be drawn by Italian explorer Antonio Pigafetta, of two oddly-shaped islands referred to as “ZZubu (Cebu?)” and Mattan (Mactan)” that was submitted to the King of Spain when Ferdinand Magellan’s crew returned in 1522 from circumnavigating the globe.
Laya additionally famous a “fascinating” map carried out by Sebastian Munster (c. 1540) that “came close to the present count of 7,641 islands”—so the Philippines supposedly has had that variety of islands all alongside.
Another, drawn 14 years later by Giovanni Battista Ramusio, presents “better-shaped islands” already recognized as “Vendanao,” “Cyabu,” “Humunu (Homonhon?)” and a tiny island referred to as “Puzon (Luzon?).”
Laya, a former finances minister, Central Bank governor and schooling minister, believes that the Europeans will need to have recorded the names phonetically, the spelling based mostly on how they pronounced their vowels.
Thus there are latter-day French maps exhibiting islands which might be labelled “Sooloo (Sulu),” “Baseelan,” “Seeassee (Siasi)” and “Booleepongpong (Bolipongpong).”
A British map refers to the nation’s excessive northern channel as “Bashee,” whereas Dutch data converse of islands referred to as “Luconia (Luzon ’yan?) and “Mindora.”
There was one other that’s clearly one in all Laya’s favorites, a map detailing an encounter between Spanish and Dutch naval forces in Manila Bay someday between the 1590s and the 1650s when their international locations engaged in the Thirty Years War.
“In the Netherlands’ war for independence, the Dutch brought their war to the East,” mentioned Laya. “They blockaded Manila Bay to jeopardize Spain’s galleon trade. The Dutch ships (drawn on the map) waited for the Spanish ships from Cavite. The Spanish, although outnumbered, defeated the Dutch. It was the victory attributed to Our Lady of La Naval. The devotion to La Naval started in 1646. Interesting that nobody remembers the war.”
He then famous a tiny element on the map, an exploding volcano drawn close to the Cavite shoreline.
An inaccuracy, Laya mentioned, as a result of the mariners didn’t see Taal Volcano appearing up miles off the coast.
“A sailor did not see the actual volcano but took note of the smoke,” mentioned Laya. “The eruption was visible from the bay. Had they seen the volcano, they would have noted it was inside a lake and that would have been on the map.”
“There was heavy competition for commercial and colonial supremacy among the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Spaniards in the 16th and 17th centuries,” mentioned Laya. “Maps were valuable secrets and published maps were often drawn to mislead enemies, trade competitors and pirates.”
A “small, nonexistent Isle de S. Joannes” east of Surigao for instance, seems on a 1596 map.
“Surveying equipment was the simplest and unintentionally or not, early maps had misplaced, misshapen, missing or fictitious islands,” he mentioned.
Laya was visibly affected by a full-size copy of the Selden Map, whose authentic is on show at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University.
The authentic hand-drawn map, he mentioned, was mentioned to be produced for a Chinese service provider in the early 1600s and exhibits China, Japan, Indochina, the Philippines and Indonesia “with mountains and vegetation drawn Chinese-style.”
Thin strains indicated commerce routes throughout the South China Sea and 126 cities throughout Luzon have been indicated in Chinese characters.
“The map could have been made here because there is a character hua-lang, meaning Spaniards that was (a term) used only by the Manila(-based) Chinese,” mentioned Laya. “However, other terms and motifs used raise Aceh in Sumatra as another possibility.”
It is tales like this that causes the adrenaline rush amongst Phimcos members led by president Jaime Gonzales.
Former vitality secretary and financial improvement govt Raphael Lotilla, one other Phimcos member, occurred to stroll in throughout Laya’s tour and shortly famous that European seafarers recorded a Bajo de Masinloc, at present known as Scarborough Shoal, once they mapped out Las Islas Filipinas in the 1600s.
Laya turned to a map drawn by Englishman Robert Dudley who recorded a “La Seccagna de Bolinao (the shallows of Bolinao)” on a map drawn whereas he was in Italy round 1661.
Among these displayed is a Southeast Asia map by Vincenzo Coronelli (c. 1688) that Laya mentioned “delineates maritime boundaries of Isole Filippine… that satisfyingly encompasses (current-day) Scarborough Shoal, the Spratlys and Benham Rise.”
There can also be an “extraordinarily rare” 1734 map by Fr. Pedro Murillo-Velarde S.J., that Laya describes as “the most accurate map produced” round 1734 exhibiting main rivers, cities and shallow areas in the South China Sea referred to as “Galit,” “Panacot” and “Lumbay.”
Laya mentioned “‘Panacot’ is Scarborough Shoal, the first reference to which is a label on another map (London, c. 1753), called ‘The Scarborough Capt. Deavergne Struck.’”
(Later, a US Coast and Geodesic Survey map launched in 1900 referred to the identical as Bajo de Masinloc, which the authorities now calls Panatag, Laya mentioned.)
Laya additionally praised the Murillo-Velarde map for together with vignettes that depict scenes of city life with Spanish elite (shaded by an umbrella-bearer), Chinese, Armenians, Indians and Africans engaged in each day routines; rural tradition and maps of Guam, Manila, Cavite and Zamboanga.
He additionally referred to as consideration to an “increasingly accurate” map on show at the exhibit’s entrance that was annexed to the 1898 Treaty of Paris “showing the Philippines so accurately as to look as if drawn from a satellite photo.”
Lotilla, a lawyer and recognized knowledgeable on the nation’s declare to sure islands in the West Philippine Sea, mentioned he was drawn to amassing maps when he began out as an affiliate professor at University of the Philippines proper after commencement in the mid-1980s.
“Imagine doing this on a public school teacher’s salary?” he mentioned. “At that time, not too many people were interested in the South China Sea. I was teaching international law, constitutional law at UP. In my case, it was the academic interest over national territory and the emergence of the Philippine (claim) that made me look into the maps and the charts.”
Lotilla, director of the UP Institute of International Legal Studies, mentioned important variety of maps in his assortment of “a hundred or so” have been useful in “putting together documents on the national territory.”
Laya began with a map purchased for $10 from a avenue vendor in Florence, Italy.
“It was a Venetian map dated 1718 (by Venetian printer and map publisher Antonio) Zatta,” he mentioned. “I asked the vendor in Spanish whether he had a map of the Philippines—the first map I got in 1966.” Thus started his lifelong ardour for map amassing.
Apart from serving as snapshots of the economics and politics of a selected interval, ancient maps are additionally artwork gadgets, Laya mentioned.
Older maps, he famous, have “decorative compass roses and allegorical figures like mermaids and sea monsters, saints and cherubs, flora and fauna, natives and their boats.”
A small Murillo-Velarde map has San Francisco Javier “on a seashell pulled by sea horses. He was thought to have visited the Philippines and is shown holding a cross that he had lost at sea and that was retrieved by a large crab,” Laya mentioned.
At one level, Lotilla who was listening in on the dialog, exclaimed map by Zatta akin to what Laya has now prices already $2,000.
“Ayoko namang ibenta,” Laya replied.
“Mapping the Philippine Seas” runs at the Metropolitan Museum till April 29. Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to five:30 p.m.
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