Wednesday, June 30, 2010

over the edge of the world

je viens de finir le livre qui je lisais ces derniers jours. il raconte le voyage de magellan où il a fait le tour du monde au début du XVIe siècle (1521-ish). au fait, j'ai acheté ce livre d'un booksale pour seulement 100 PHP.

we are all familiar with the story of the portuguese, under the flag of spain, who for the first time had successfully circumnavigated the world and as a consequence discovered a water route to the spice islands across the "ocean sea" west of the new world.

magellan's encounters with fascinating natives and their customs including our own cebuans (to which i descend from) and the proud mactanese, betray european bigoted and self serving attitudes. they also betray our own weaknesses providing brief insight of why we continue to be divided even to this day.

pigafetta is i think as important as magellan himself for it was him who chronicled the entire voyage reminiscent of captain picard doing his log aboard the enterprise. besides being a representative of the pope, he also served as the ship's linguist and anthropologist. he (attempted to) put into writing the local languages and their sexual practices. this to me was a kind of expected. he was a man of the cloth and like many others, there was a kind of obsession with sex (just as it does today) and he means to impose his beliefs on to the natives. sans respect to their own beliefs.

most of the native chieftains who converted did so, mostly because they feared the armada de moluccas. magellan was all to happy to demonstrate their superiority. their weapons admittedly surpassed the bamboo javelins, bows, and poisoned arrows of the natives. and local politics paved the way for some of the chieftains to ally themselves with magellan thinking it would give them advantage over rival kingdoms.

i am surprised why his story had not yet made it on hollywood. it had the familiar elements of drama, political intrique, adventure, vicious villains, and noble heroes. vital ingredients that make up an epic adventure non fictional story.

rating 4 out of 5
an interesting and easy read

1 comment:

robdelacruz said...

Historical events are often more interesting than fictional ones, and Magellan's story is an example of that. They could easily make an action adventure film based on Magellan's voyage. Great book, a must-read.