Lapu Lapu

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. 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- rival, Spain. 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 .