Sibuyan Island (the original) | The oldest Map of the Philippines
The oldest map from/about the Philippines

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This magnificent map of the Philippine archipelago, drawn by the Jesuit Father Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696–1753) and published in Manila in 1734, is the first and most important scientific map of the Philippines.

The Philippines at that time were a vital part of the Spanish Empire, and the map shows the maritime routes from Manila to Spain and to New Spain (Mexico and other Spanish territory in the New World), with captions.

The Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde had the map published in Manila in 1734. It surfaced in 2012 among the possessions of a British lord, who put it up for auction at Sotheby’s in London, where Filipino businessman Mel Velarde bid and got it for £170,500 ($266,869.46 or P12,014,463.09).

The first certified true copy of the map has been reserved for Malacañang. Velarde will personally present it to President Aquino on June 12, the anniversary of Philippine independence.
In the upper margin stands a great cartouche with the title of the map, crowned by the Spanish royal coat of arms flanked each side by an angel with a trumpet, from which an inscription unfurls.

Now that Velarde owns the map, the National Museum has informed him it has no funds to buy the map this year, and that there was some uncertainty about funds next year. Velarde decided to donate the map instead.

Sibuyan Island Map 1734 -
click to enlarge

This map is not only of great interest from the geographic point of view, but also as an ethnographic document. It is flanked by twelve engravings, six on each side, eight of which depict different ethnic groups living in the archipelago and four of which are cartographic descriptions of particular cities or islands.

According to the labels, the engravings on the left show:

- Sangleyes (Chinese Philippinos) or Chinese
- Kaffirs (a derogatory term for non-Muslims)
- a Camarin (from the Manila area)
- and a Lascar (from the Indian subcontinent, a British Raj term)
- mestizos, a Mardica (of Portuguese extraction), and a Japanese

and two local maps:
- one of Samboagan (a city on Mindanao), and the other of the port of Cavite.

On the right side are various people in typical dress:

- three men seated
- an Armenian
- a Mughal
- and a Malabar (from an Indian textile city)
- an urban scene with various peoples
- a rural scene with representations of domestic and wild animals
- a map of the island of Guajan (meaning Guam); and a map of Manila.