A 6-year-old Filipino-Portuguese boy is starring in his own YouTube channel to retell the voyage that led to the first circumnavigation of the world, dubbed as “one of the greatest adventures of all time.”
The boy named Fernão may be in the best position to do so as he shares the name of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose Portuguese name is Fernão de Magalhães.
His mother also hails from Mactan in Cebu, where Magellan died in battle, while Fernão’s father’s parents are from near the village in Sabrosa, Portugal where Magellan was born.
“It’s as if Fernão represents this celebration,” says Fernão’s dad, Carlos Sampaio, in an interview with ABS-CBN News from their home in Cascais, near Lisbon.
“He is half-Filipino and half-Portuguese and he has this connections with Magellan and the Philippines. So we thought that it would be great to have him as the representative of this celebration, the representative of Magellan, Lapu-Lapu, Philippines and Portugal.”
This lineage caught the interest of Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Celia Anna Feria and challenged Fernão’s parents to come up with a way to highlight this connection of the two cultures in time for the 500th anniversary of the Magellan-Elcano expedition.
Carlos who works as a digital creator and his wife, Mabille Adrianne Pantinople Tamala, a photographer, then came up with idea of producing the videos. They have had experience working with the Philippine Embassy in Lisbon, which is happy to support the project and is working with them to produce some of video’s contents.
“I challenged him and Mabille, ‘Why don’t we do something with Ferñao? . . . I mean, you named him for a reason. You named him Ferñao for a reason. Now is the time. Another 500 years won’t come around.’ So he came up with that video and it’s a way to promote our stories here. It’s actually the Filipino narratives with regards to Portugal,” Ambassador Feria tells ABS-CBN News.
“It was a way to tell our stories, that we have this common stories between Portugal and the Philippines and this one was just the perfect story for it,” she adds.
The project is also being supported by the Philippine National Quincentennial Committee.
UNION OF TWO LEGACIES
Carlos says Fernão, an avid listener of stories, is personally fascinated by the story of the fateful voyage and has actually visited Cebu a couple of times and has even seen the statue of Lapu-Lapu in Mactan.
“So he knows what these things are. It’s not just something that he knows that happened, but he has been to those places. So he knows the story from that, too, and he knows that he is, in a way . . . That he is a descendant of both of them, a descendant from Lapu-Lapu. He is a descendant of Magellan, in a way, of course,” Carlos says.
Fernão’s first video that introduces the series talks of how the ocean has shaped the fate not only of the Philippines but of the world, and in the process deepening the contact between Portugal and the Philippines even if Magellan sailed for Spain.
The video shows the boy Fernão speaking from the waters of Portugal — in Cabo da Roca, known as the westernmost point in continental Europe, and Guincho beach, as well as videos from Fernão’s previous visits to Cebu.
The video also shows him swimming in the waters off Virgin Islands near Bantayan, riding the tricycle, and pouring coconut water in his grandmother’s yard in Mactan.
“He found here his greatest and final rival,” Fernão narrates in Portugese in the video with English subtitles based on a script written by his dad.
“Five hundred years ago two men, two peoples were fighting. Today, in spite of the distance, they are close. And I am an example of the union of the legacies of Fernão de Magalhães and Lapu-Lapu.”
The family is now preparing the next episode in the series, which will be shot in Sabrosa, said to be Magellan’s birthplace, and retell the start of the voyage, the context of his sailing for the Spanish crown, and what motivated him to sail.
The videos’ approach will be family-friendly, using language “from a child to all families.” Carlos, also an animator, intends to create animation and cartoons as a way of illustrating what happened.
“This series is for families, for adults and children, for those who want to know about this history and who want to start knowing about this,” Carlos says.
A future episode will also feature food in the Philippines, an idea that Fernão, who likes Philippine coconuts and mangoes, is excited about.
Feria sees this as a great way to promote Filipino food and raise awareness about Filipino products in Portugal.
MAGELLAN ‘DID NOT DISCOVER’ PHILIPPINES
One area that Carlos wants to highlight in the videos is the rich culture that already existed in the Philippine before the arrival of the expedition and that Magellan did not “discover” the Philippines, a popular misconception.
“One point that is very important for us in the video is to show that Magellan did not discover the Philippines. It’s a misconception. He did not discover it. When he arrived there, there was already people there, cultures, there were many many interesting things there so he did not discover. For himself, he discovered, he did not know it but he did not find new land. That land already existed. It was very rich,” Carlos says.
As what the video’s description elaborates, what Magellan did “was to connect those peoples to Europe, bringing European culture, traditions, religion, changing that region and its people forever.”
Aside from supporting Fernão’s video projects, the Philippine Embassy in Portugal is working with a group of historians from the Nova University in Lisbon to come up with publications on Philippine and Portuguese historiography, historical research and stories about the Philippines by Portuguese historians.
Feria says the objective is to share Philippine narratives to allow the Portuguese people to know more about the Philippines, as well as for Filipinos to know more about the history, pointing out that there were already contacts even before the arrival of Spaniards.
“The Portuguese were already in Southeast Asia before the first Spanish expedition,” Feria says
“So we were able to find out that there were a lot of contacts already between the Portuguese and what were the first inhabitants of the Philippine islands, primarily traders from Sulu, from the Visayas, because Cebu was also an international port.”
The Embassy is also publishing a bibliography of the Philippines found in Portuguese archives and libraries.
“It’s the first of its kind. There are so much materials on the Philippines found in Portuguese archives and libraries that we haven’t yet discovered and we’re just starting. This is just like digging the first few books, or first few documents on the Philippines found in the archives,” Feria says.
“What makes it interesting is 500 years ago how the world was. You know, there’s no GPS, there’s no cell phones. It’s just sheer grit, and luck, and determination for all these things to happen and now we’re reading all about our history, our past through the Portuguese archives.
“We haven’t focused on pre-1521 Philippines. I think it’s nice that we are able to know a little bit more about the Philippines through the Portuguese perspective.”
The Embassy plans to make the bibliography and historiography available online.
ANC, first circumnavigation, Ferdinand Magellan, Portual PH history, Fernão, Carlos Sampaio