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Philippine Map Sells for P46.72 Million at Auction

The 1734 map was crucial in securing the Philippines’ victory in the West Philippine Sea case.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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UPDATED: (9/14/19) The Murillo Velarde Map of 1734, otherwise known as the Carta Hydrographica Y Chorographica De La Yslas Filipinas Manila, and considered the most important historical map of the Philippines, sold for P46.2 million at Leon Gallery's The Magnificent September Auction.

ORIGINAL: The Murillo Velarde Map of 1734, otherwise known as the Carta Hydrographica Y Chorographica De La Yslas Filipinas Manila, is considered the most important historical map of the Philippines. It was prepared by Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde. Historians regard it as the first scientific map of the Philippines. It is so accurate, so detailed, and so carefully drawn that it was the basis of all Philippine maps manufactured hundreds of years prior to the existence of modern technology for mapmaking, which is why historians bestowed on it the title, "Mother of All Philippine Maps."

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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The map helped the Philippines win the West Philippine Sea Case.

In 2014, an original reproduction of the map was sold at auction in Sotheby’s in London by businessman Mel Velasco Velarde for a final price of P12 million. He brought the map to the Philippines and donated it to the Filipino people through the government. It was cited as evidence in its then ongoing case against China concerning maritime rights in the West Philippine Sea.

“The 1734 Murillo Velarde map as historic artifact was cited in the Philippine complaint against China at UNCLOS. Problem was, the Filipino people, through their government, never owned a single copy of this map,” said Velarde.

The map was crucial in the arbitration case because it disproved China’s historical claims to the entire West Philippine Sea, particularly Scarborough Shoal, which is labeled as Panacot, later named as Bajo de Masinloc. China’s claims to the entire West Philippine Sea is heavily anchored on historical claims, but none of the islands drawn in the Murillo Velarde Map ever appeared on any of China’s ancient maps drawn centuries ago. It was only in the 1930s when China began claiming the West Philippine Sea as its own.

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The map was a sensation in Europe.

One of the reasons why the map was so instrumental in the landmark victory of the Philippines against China was because of its widespread popularity, especially in Europe, thereby cementing its legitimacy as a true map.

When the Murillo Velarde Map was published in 1734 and sent to Europe, it became a very popular map there. “It became a sensation in Europe because it was very detailed,” said Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. The map shows the entire Philippine archipelago, including its maritime features, like Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands, showing that these are part of the Philippines’ territory.

The map also identifies about 900 towns and cities, most of which bear familiar names to Filipinos. You will find that these locations are still accurate to this day, even though the map was drawn almost 300 years ago.

An original reproduction of the Murillo Velarde map will go under the gavel at Leon Gallery on September 14, 2019.

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