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MISSIONARIES FROM MACAU TO THE WORLD – Saint Lazarus Island (30)

admin / January 15, 2021

Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

Every chronicler guarantees that the kind king and his people left the best of the impressions among the Portuguese visitors, back at sea again.

Soon, along the island of Mindanau, a new island could be seen: Soligão, Seligano or Soligano, depending on the writer, and which possibly corresponds to our already known island of Siargau.

The local king was also converted, assuming the Christian name of António Galvão, as well as the queen, two of his daughters and many other people; and on this matter all the chroniclers are in agreement. Castanheda mentions 150 people; Couto reduces the number of neophytes to sixty, “people from his household,” that is, from the royal family. The missionary process continued.

Three other kings from many other neighboring islands would embrace the Christian Faith and adopt Portuguese names. Diogo do Couto guarantees that everyone was called “D. João de Portugal,” the Portuguese king at the time these islands became Christianised. Lavanha and Castanhada assert that the sovereign of the island of Camigui took the name of Francisco and not João, this one reserved for the rulers of the two other islands, in this case plus the nickname “O Grande (The Big),” the mentioned chroniclers reminding us that the ruler’s women, children and brothers and a great part of its vassals  received also baptism, Castanheda highlighting, in this particular case, “both noble as common people.”

There are also differences in the name of the nearby islands: Butuão (or Butuan), islet in the bay with the same name; Pimilara (or Pumilarano), in the bay of Dumankilas; and Camigui (or Camisino), an unidentified place. Concerning them, Couto recalls that they would be rediscovered in 1543 by the navigator Bernardo de La Torre (as we saw in the previous chronicle), but such warning was of no use because the Spanish keep attributing to their navigator the discovery of Siargau and the name of Francisco de Castro , the true discoverer, is ignored.

From those places Galvão’s emissary wanted to go to Mindanau, but very strong headwinds prevented him from trying and he decided to return to Ternate, “after a few months in that holy work,” Lavanha and Castanheda both recalling that the captains took with them “many children of those who became Christians, to be taught Christian doctrine and our language, a task which António Galvão took with great care.”

I read these facts while I wait for the departure of the ferry to Bohol, amazed (or maybe not) by the amount of Chinese and Korean tourists that are crowding the waiting room of the busy terminal. Along the way you never miss sight of land, and two hours later I’m already in Tagbilaran City, the most significative urban area on the island, tucked into one of those ingenious motorized vehicles made of sidecars (or tricycles, depending on the perspective), with space for luggage at the rear. And at high speed, the vehicle takes me to the beach of Alona, the hottest of Panglao, an islet separated from Bohol by a beautiful maritime channel.