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By Joe Espiritu
Jagna-based Writer
Bohol Sunday Post

The celebration of the historic Blood Compact between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Boholano chieftain Sikatuna had started. The Philippine Historical Society had declared that the ceremony really happened in Hinawanan beach in Loay instead of Bool, Tagbilaran City . Despite the pronouncement, the controversy still rages. A local historian Judge Simplicio Apalisok wrote that the event took place in Bool while Engr. Jess Tirol contended that the rite was performed in Loay. As what the poem about the Blind Men and the Elephant say, while each of them may be right, all of them are wrong.

First, when Legazpi landed in Bohol in 1565 the world was not yet properly mapped. The projections of Gerardus us Mercator, which segmented the world into latitudes and longitudes was not made until 1568. Navigation instruments at that time were the, magnetic compass, astrolabe and the hourglass. This means specific locations cannot be accurately plotted as it can be today.

The compass is to point the direction of the voyage; the hourglass was to time the duration of the sailing while the astrolabe was to determine the position of the ship in regard to the location in relation to the port of origin. Although clocks were already invented, they were not yet portable so they can be used in voyages. The sextant, the instrument, which could determine the latitude and longitude of the position, was not invented until 1730.

It is logical that Legazpi followed the Magellan log to reach the general vicinity of the Philippines . He made the same landfall but decided to explore the region. However, his square-rigged ships are not so maneuverable. The rectangular sails set it right angle to the hull can best sail before the wind. It cannot perform like the fore and aft rigged, which means triangular sails can be sailed close-hauled into the wind. He failed to make Mindanao and was blown towards Jagna. According the research of Antonio S. Madera of Jagna, Legazpi, in quest of water, was prevented from landing by the natives.

It would be interesting to know what were the contents of the Legazpi log. In there would be the direction of the voyage, the number of hours it sailed and the description of the topography of the land and islands sighted. Had he sailed east rounding the Nausok point, he would have seen the Alejawan River . That would have solved his problem. So he sailed west. Had he sailed near the shore, he would have spotted the Manaba in Garcia Hernandez. Since it is hard to miss that river, he must have been blown offshore.

The question now is why did he miss the Manaba but saw the Loay estuary? We could not say that they are inexperienced explorers. They should have seen the break in the mountain ridge between Jagna and Garcia to suspect the presence of a river. It could be that their need for water is not so acute that they did not conduct a diligent search.

If they missed the Manaba, then there is the possibility that they also missed Loay. If they did, they could have sailed to shallow waters of Bool, Tagbilaran where they could not proceed any farther. It was there where they conducted the search for water and found it.

Then, who kept the Legazpi log? He should be a navigator so he can read and interpret the Magellan log to trace the route of the Magellan voyage as well as record the events of the expedition. Was it a pilot or the chronicler of the expedition, Fr. Andres de Urdaneta? The latter should also be a sailor as well as a clergyman. If not he would not be able to tell the position according to sightings such as position of the surroundings. What would have been mentioned are the position of the islands of Pamilacan, Siquijor and Panglao.

Then, why is Prof. Emmanuel Luis Romanillos silent on the controversy? He who makes a career of translating Spanish documents regarding the Philippines into English missed the Legazpi log. We have not heard from him. Another question is; since the Blood Compact could have happened in Hinawanan Loay, would the statues in Bool be transferred there? Would the Sandugo celebration be centered in Loay rather than Tagbilaran? Only time will tell.

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