Batulaki plays significant part in the Magellan-Elcano expedition

A view of Balutaki. Photo courtesy of Martin Fernando E. Bernad Jr.

BATULAKI, Glan, Sarangani (October 28, 2021) – A quincentennial historical marker in a coastal village in barangay Batulaki was unveiled on October 26, exactly 500 years after the remaining crew members of the Magellan-Elcano expedition were forced to drop anchor along its shores to shelter from the “most furious storm” as described by the chronicler Antonio Pigaffeta.

The marker was installed on a promontory from where Sarangani Island can be seen, the last stop before the expedition reached Maluku.

On October 28, the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines will conclude with the last historical marker to be unveiled in the Philippine territory at Sarangani Island (Municipality of Sarangani, Davao Occidental).

The marker in Batulaki is the 32nd of the 34 historical markers installed throughout the country.

Gina Batuhan, Historic Sites and Education Division Chief of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, said “Batulaki was a turning point in the life of the remaining crew members of the fallen Ferdinand Magellan” as they almost died in a storm.

Batuhan said the board of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines ascertained that the Biraham Batolach which Pigaffeta described is the present-day Batulaki in Glan.

“Analyzing the order of places, Pigaffeta recorded Biraham Batolach was immediately north of Sarangani Island and it so happened the place Batulaki is still existing up to this time.”

Batuhan said “some people say this quincentennial should not be commemorated because of the sufferings of our ancestors. While colonization had brought miseries to our freedom-loving and already cultured ancestors, we must also appreciate that what happened in the past is part of being a Filipino today. To see ourselves in what it seems as a history of Spanish to reach our shores by accident is ours to own and hone.”

“Our ancestors influence the destination and fate of the first circumnavigators of the world which gave science and humanity a lasting legacy. This bit of history will certainly inspire us to appreciate our past and to be proud of who we are as Filipinos,” Batuhan said.

Roberto Alabado III, Department of Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation, said the commemoration of the 500 years of the circumnavigation of the world is significant because “actually the Philippines and the Pacific were the missing pieces in the world map.”

This (Batulaki), he said, “was the last leg of that expedition towards the known world they knew before. So, this was relatively unknown to the west, and when they go south to the Moluku that was already known to them. We were actually the last link of the western world so that they will circumnavigate the whole world.”

Maybe, he said, “ito na ‘yung ating chance to show the world that we were not discovered but actually we were always here and we had our tribe, we had our culture, we had our infrastructure.  It is a sense of pride for the Sarangani people to know that we are part of the history on the circumnavigation of the world.”

Glan Mayor Vivien Yap disclosed a plan to develop the area as a tourism site. “It makes us proud that we are part of this history in our country 500 years ago.”

Yap also thanked Rodolfo Rodriguez, a resident of Batulaki, who donated the 400 sq.m. lot to be the site for the historical marker.

Joseph Hulguin, Glan’s tourism consultant, said the local government unit already earmarked some P9-million in its 2022 budget for the development of the site. He said this will include the installation of the railings along the cliff area, a view deck, improvement of the stairways, installation of a ramp for PWDs, and some riprapping.

For Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon the circumnavigation quincentennial commemorated in Batulaki is a pride not only for Glan but for the Province of Sarangani as well. “The historical site was put there by the national government and confirmed to be the area where Ferdinand Magellan’s crew docked. So, I am very, very happy for this development.” (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)