First Spanish expedition (1521)
The Spanish era covers a period of about three centuries. It was the longest
period by which our country was colonized by a foreign power. The first of many
Spanish expeditions to our country was made by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
Ferdinand Magellan (Spanish name: Fernando de Magallanes), a Portuguese
explorer working in behalf of Spain, led a Spanish expedition to circumnavigate
the world in search for spices. They started their expedition on September 20,
1519 with a fleet of five ships, a crew of 241men, and provisions for two years.
The ships were the Trinidad, San Antonio, Conception, Victoria, and Santiago.
Only three ships survived the weather and a mutiny. One of the ships, the San
Antonio, deserted and returned to Spain. The remainder of Magellan's fleet arrived
at Homonhon island, southeast of Samar, on March 16, 1521. He named the
islands the Archipelago of San Lazaro, erected a cross, and claimed the lands for
Spain. (Later the archipelago was named Philippines in honor of King Philip of
The first Catholic mass was celebrated in Limasawa, an island located in
southern Leyte, on March 31, 1521, an Easter Sunday. The mass was officiated by
Pedro Valderama,, a Spanish Friar. Among those present were Rajah Siagu
and Rajah Kolambu who forged a blood compact with Ferdinand Magellan two
Pedro Valderama baptised Rajah Kolambu, Rajah Humabon, and about four
hundred natives into Christianity on April 14, 1521. It was held in Cebu where
Magellan erected a huge cross. It was the start of the conversion of many
Filipinos into Roman Catholicism.
Ferdinand Magellan was killed in an offshore battle with the natives of Mactan
Island headed by its local chieftain Lapu-lapu on April 27, 1521. He was killed
by poisoned arrows in the historic Batttle of Mactan.
The unexpected death of Ferdinand Magellan forced the Spaniards to leave the
country and return to Spain. The ships Trinidad and Victoria departed from Cebu
but only the Trinidad with its captain Sebastian del Cano and a crew of 18
Europeans and four Malays arrived in Seville, Spain on September 8,1522 to
complete the circumnavigation of the world. The ship brought back spices to pay
for the expenses of the expedition.
Ferdinand Magellan's expedition sparked Spain's interest in our country which
alarmed the Portuguese because of their declining power and world influence.
Magellan was widely credited for discovering the Philippines for the Europeans,
half a world away. Four more Spanish expeditions followed between 1525 and
1542. The fourth expedition was headed by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos.