A King's Balisong
by Pabu Knife
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If that man doesn't look very Filipino, that's because
that is not Lapu Lapu. That is Ferdinand Magellan who
was born Portuguese but, in his late 30s, renounced his
Portuguese citizenship and entered into the service of
the king of Spain, King Charles the First.
The life of Lapu Lapu is inextricably connected to that
of Magellan. So, I will begin with a bit of history about
Magellan is known as a great Spanish explorer,
but he was born Portugese, Fernão de Magalhães,
into a family of minor nobility. He had a keen interest
in sailing and marine navigation. He worked for years
for the Portugese governemnt in an office that
received and archived reports from Portugese ships.
He went on several major voyages himself eventually
becoming a captain. He enjoyed some favor with
with the Portugese monarch, Dom Manuel.
But, Magellan fell out of favor with Manuel primarily
because of this own arrogance. When King
Manuel denied his repeated demands for an
upresidented increase in his salary and, instead,
fired him, Magellan defected to Portugal's arch-
At the time, Spain and Portugal were the world's
two competing super-powers. In 1493, Pope
Alexander VI decided to settle the arguments
between them by once-and-for-all divided the
world in half. By Papal authority, the eastern half
went to Portugal, and the western half to Spain.
It seems like an equitable -- if arrogant -- soluition.
But the Pope's decree didn't exactly specify
where the line between the two was to be.
Magellan proposed to the Spanish king that he,
Magellan, would be able to find the line the Pope
had described... and find it in such a way as to prove
that the "Moluccas," the coveted Spice Islands
-- pretty much what we, today, call Indonesia --
were within Spanish territory. He also promised
his new patron that, with his knowledge of the
secret Portugese naval archives, he could find
a way to get from Spain to the Moluccas without
going through Spanish waters and without going
around Cape Horn which is, to this day,
considered a very dangerous place to sail.
The king agreed to support Magellan's voyage.
With five ships, San Antonio, Santiago, Trinidad,
Victoria, and Concepcion, and 280 men, Magellan's
Armada de Moluccas departed in September 1519.
Meanwhile, in what we today call the Philippines...
Click on the finger icon to read more about this heroic Pabu balisong