Friday, February 20, 2015

The First European

When I was still an elementary pupil, our teacher in history taught us that the first Europeans who made it in the Philippines were Ferdinand Magellan and his troops, that they arrived in 1521 and died because of Lapu-lapu. But actually, they were not the only Europeans who had set foot in the Philippines, and even not the first Westeners who came here.

It is not known who really was the first European, but there are records written by those who came here evidencing their presence. Some of them just arrived here by accident, maybe driven by weather as it was a custom to sailors to find the nearest island so they can take refuge on it. And some are traders from our neighboring countries.

The First Europeans before Ferdinand Magellan

Tomé Pires

Tomé Pires was a Portuguese pharmacist who went to Malacca from Lisbon, and spent almost four years of his life in the Orient. He wrote a book entitled Suma Oriental Que trata do Mar Roxo ate aos Chins (Summa of the East, from the Red Sea up to the Chinese). At that same book, our country was mentioned. Of course, Philippines was not yet named as Philippines that time, so they named our ancestors Luções, as it was also the name they call themselves that time.

In his book, he described our people as heathens, and that they (the pre-Hispanic Filipinos) are traders of gold and foodstuffs. Though he also mentioned that our golds are of very low quality.

Pero Fidalgo

He was mentioned in a Contesão commentary. According to it, in June 1545 a Portuguese named Pero Fidalgo left Borneo and was driven by winds towards the north where he found an island of which they called dos Luções because thats what the inhabitants called themselves.

Others with unknown identity

In addition to that, the Contesão commentary also said that it is possible that many Portuguese had already gone in the Philippines maybe by accident or by purpose, because when Magellan arrived in Malhou (an island south-eastern of the Philippines) the natives said, they've already seen people like them (Magellan and his comrades).


Hippalus was a sailor who made it in southeastern Far East and called it Maniolas which is probably Manila, then told Claudius Ptolemy about this Beautiful Islands south of China. Even Jose Rizal believed that on Ptolemy's map, Philippines was depicted. But this fact was dismissed by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera.