Rizal honored, indigenous groups featured in new book

A new book published by the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs honors the legacy of writer and revolutionary Dr. Jose Rizal and underscores the historical and cultural importance of indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

Authored by Denis Lepatan, Philippine Chronicles: A Quincentennial Celebration veers away from discussing the victory in Mactan and introduction of Christianity to the country, which are focal points of the government-led quincentennial celebrations and commemorations last and this year. Instead, the book focuses on the various ethnolinguistic groups in the country, a number of which were drawn from chronicler Antonio Pigafetta’s account of the first circumnavigation of the world half a millennium ago.

Lepatan, the present Philippine ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, notes that the book was originally planned as an essay intended to be published in an online site but evolved into a 192-page work through the encouragement of FSI head, ambassador Jose Maria Cariño, and his wife, Maria Teresa, who edited his work. It is the second volume in FSI’s cultural heritage series, following the publication on the pandemic paintings of the institute’s employees in 2021.

The Typus Orbis Terrarum map of 1564.

Philippine Chronicles is divided into four sections with the first discussing about old maps featuring the Philippines or the islands thereof. The maps include the Carta universal en que se contiene todo lo que del mundo se ha descubierto fasta agora hizola Diego Ribero cosmographo de su magestad, published in 1529 in Seville, the first to feature some islands of the island chain later to be known as the Philippines; the Typus Orbis Terrarum map of 1564; the famed Murillo-Velarde Map of 1734; and other Early Modern maps that feature the country or the islands thereof.

The book’s second section analyzes Rizal’s serialized essay, “Filipinas dentro de cien años” (The Philippines a Century Hence), published in La Solidaridad from 1889 to 1890, while the third section discusses the Moros (Filipino Moslems) and cafres (non-Moslems) that Pigafeta encountered during their Philippine transit which include today’s Waray, Cebuano, Manobo, Jama Mapun, Sama, Sama Bajau, Tausug, Yakan, Subanen, Tagbanua, and Tagalog with a discussion on the Aeta groups.

The last section discusses, among other things, the Philippine languages and an analysis of Pigafeta’s word lists which include Bisaya and Malay vis-a-vis Rizal’s exploits in the languages of Europe and the author’s exploration of Rizal’s mind.

Full of archival maps and images, the book is a visual delight as much as it is an engrossing read, particularly the author’s in-depth insights on what makes Rizal, Rizal.

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