Sunday, September 15, 2019

Vernon Mooers writes

Cebu Island Girl  

She bears her name
like Magellan's cross
ties her hair up proudly
steps out in her finest
and her hips swing
and flow like lava
when she bares her breasts
on coconut covered hills
an angel just descended
from mountains in the sky.
She prances to the beat
A Leipzig thoroughbred mare
her mane tossed back and flowing
she steps in high heel shoes
and the soldiers stare like stone
as she dances up the road
the sailors only whisper
of her coming down below
her dresses like fair winds
spread full out in the breeze
saddled with her mission
her veil of trembling lace
a shroud across their dreams
they can only stare in wonder
as she spreads her wings and flies
toward the cloudy misty sea
into heaven's virgin face
Image result for Fernando Amorsolo: Nude Lavandera paintings
Lavandera -- Fernando Amorsolo


  1. A lavandera is a washerwoman. In Amorsolo's painting, the earthenware jar symbolizes virginal innocence.

    In 1505, 25-year-old Fernão de Magalhães joined Francisco de Almeida, the 1st Portuguese viceroy of the Estado da Índia, remaining there 8 years, and in 1511, under the new governor Afonso de Albuquerque, he participated in the conquest of the Maluku islands (“the Spice Islands”) before falling out of favor with the government and received no suitable offers of employment after 1514, though he persisted in his efforts to persuade the king to lead an expedition back to the Malukus via a westward voyage instead of sailing around Africa. In 1517, after a quarrel with king Manuel I, he was allowed to leave for Spain. Under Carlos I (later emperor Charles V) he left Spain with 270 men, discovered the Strait of Magellan in October 1520, and in November named the “peaceful sea” (the Pacific ocean, though it was often called the Sea of Magellan until the 18th century). He expected to reach Asia in less than a week, but the crossing took 3 months and 20 days, and 30 of his men died, mostly of scurvy. On 16 March he sighted “San Lazaro” (Samar, in the eastern Visayas, the 3rd largest island in the Philippines) but did not land. He reached the uninhabited island of Homonhon the next day, and was spotted there by subjects of rajah Culambu of Limasawa. On 31 March he held the 1st Mass in the islands and erected a cross. (The Cruz de Magallanes is now encased in another wooden cross in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes street in front of Cebu’s city center, to protect it from people who chipped pieces from it in the belief that it had miraculous power.)

  2. On 7 April Magellan traveled to Cebu. He claimed to have converted 2,200 natives in the month and 1/2 he was there, including rajah Humabon, but salip Lapu-Lapu of Mactan resisted. (Actually, his name is unknown; in his “Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo” [ca. 1524] Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian who served as Magellan’s sobresaliente [supernumerary] called him "Çilapulapu;" 17th-century poet Carlos Calao called him "Cali Pulaco;" and José Rizal referred to him as "Si Lapulapu" in an annotation of the 1890 edition of Antonio de Morga's 1609 “Sucesos de las islas Filipinas.) The rajahnate of Cebu had been founded by Sri Lumay of the Chola dynasty of Sumatra, whose grandson was Humabon, who made it into an important trading center and was colloquially known as “sinibuayng hingpit” ("the place for trading"), which was shortened to “sibu” (to trade), hence Cebu. Humabon allowed Lapu-Lapu, from Sabah, to farm the island of Opon, and married his niece, but Lapu-Lapu turned to piracy instead; the island became known as Mangatang ("those who lie in wait"), which became "Mactan.") On 27 April, at Humabon’s instigation, Magellan led 49 of his men to the island, where they were confronted by more than 1,500 warriors. According to Pigafetta, “When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries... Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice... A native hurled a bamboo spear into the captain's face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the native's body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.” Afterwards Humabon poisoned 27 Spaniards during a feast, because they were raping the local women, and the remaining men left the Philippines; 18 survivors made it back to Spain in September 1522. Fishermen would later throw coins at a stone shaped like a man to ask permission to ply their trade, in the belief that Lapu-Lapu had never died and turned to stone to guard the island.


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