Who Discovered the Philippines?

It is quite common to find many Filipinos and websites about the Philippines to mention that the Philippines was discovered in March 1521 by famed Portuguese navigator by the name of Ferdinand Magellan. Though this seems correct according to many sources both modern and earlier, the statement itself does bring a bit of controversy. There are those who question the accuracy of this statement and thus brining up the question of who discovered the Philippines.

Discovering the Philippines

The basic tenet you’ll find even in the earliest annals of Philippine history would give you an early history stating that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the islands of the Philippines. The rest of the story would show Magellan clashing with a local chieftain by the name of Lapu-lapu of Cebu. This is the story you’ll find in many history books about the country.

It is true that Magellan landed in Samar and Leyte and laid claim to the islands in the name of Spain. However, there are those who challenge the legitimacy of the claim of having discovered the Philippines. There are those who claim that the early annals only depicted or gave credit to Ferdinand Magellan since the earliest historic records were written by the Spanish. This puts the question forward regarding who discovered the Philippines if not the Spanish.

Challenged Claim

The challenge to the idea of crediting Ferdinand Magellan having discovered the Philippines is so strong that some web sites and history books have been revised. Even official tourism sites in the country have revised their sections on early Philippine history. However, you’ll also find that there are those who still stick to the original idea of giving credit to Magellan as the explorer who discovered the Philippines.

It is argued that even before Magellan came to the islands, the people of the country already have established culture and trading relations with other Asian countries. This simply means that even before the Spanish came to the islands, someone else discovered the Philippines. Evidence of which are trade relations with nearby Asian countries and the many villages and kingdoms already established.

The earliest evidence that the islands were already inhabited and settled dates back to about 40,000 years ago with artifacts of a civilized life in the cave of Tabon in the island of Palawan. Negritos are also known to have settled in the islands around 30,000 years ago.

Other Asian settlers have already made it into the country even hundreds of years before any Spanish explorer has ever set foot on the country’s shores. As further evidence against the claim, several highland villages and the sultanates of the island of Mindanao were never conquered by the Spanish.

The West Discovers the Philippines

Thus, if you really want to interpret the history of the country, you would be forced to conclude that the western world discovered the Philippines in the year 1521. However, you should take note that the real person who discovered the Philippines and her islands is still unknown.

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