Scarborough belongs to PH, old maps show

Documents back claim, says lawmaker


BAJO SCARBURO European cartographers named Scarborough Shoal as “Bajo Scarburo” in this 1820 map from the book “Mapping the Philippines: The Spanish Period.”

Old maps dating back to Spanish colonial times may hold the key to the claim of the Philippines to Scarborough Shoal.

Known as “Bajo Scarburo,” the shoal now called Panatag by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has been part of the known world since 1734, when European cartographers began to map the world in an age of conquest.

In fact, Bajo Scarburo appeared on a map of the “Archipelago Filipino” as a constituent part of Sambalez (Zambales province) in a topographic map of the country “drawn under the direction of Ildefonso de Aragon on April 15, 1820.”

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who has a collection of ancient maps of the country, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday that the maps would easily disprove the territorial claim of China to the shoal and its surrounding waters, which, he said, had no historical or legal grounds under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (Unclos).

“It’s clear that Scarborough Shoal is part of our cartography during the Spanish colonial times,” he said. “We have maps (reproduced) from the original, which was made in 1734. During that time, Scarborough is already part of the Philippines.”

The DFA has asked Beijing to resolve the dispute through arbitration in the United Nations-backed International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, but China swiftly rejected this.

As in the dispute over the Spratly Islands involving six nations, including the Philippines and China, Beijing has always preferred bilateral, where it has a clear advantage over smaller nations, over a multilateral approach.

But the DFA is standing by its decision to seek international arbitration with or without China.

The manuscript maps can be found in full-color in the hardbound book titled, “Mapping the Philippines: The Spanish Period,” authored by Angara, Jose Ma. A. Cariño and Sonia P. Ner, and  published by the Rural Empowerment Assistance and Development in September 2009.

The book contains another map, which was published in Madrid in 1875 and republished by the US Department of War in 1899, a year after the Philippines was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. It bears the description: “This is a general map of the Philippine Archipelago arising from the work of the Hydrographic Commission of the Philippines under the command of Claudio Montero y Gray.”

‘Mother of all maps’

The 1875 map was the “product of the most comprehensive mapping and charting work in the Philippines lasting more than 20 years (1849-1870).”

Angara said the original maps were deposited at Spain’s Museo Naval de Madrid.

A Jesuit scholar, Pedro Morillo y Velarde, came up with the first “complete map of the Philippines,” said the senator. This was later known as the “Morillo Map,” which delineated the Philippine territory under Spanish rule, and which became the basis for the Treaty of Paris.

Three original copies of the Morillo Map are kept in Madrid, Paris and Washington, which were parties to the treaty.

For US$20 million, the treaty gave away the Philippines to the United States following the humiliating defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War, which ended Spain’s empire in the Americas and the Pacific and set the stage for US colonial hegemony.

“We have a historic title to it (Scarborough Shoal) as early as the 17th century. It’s already on our map. All the cartographic maps subsequent to 1734 were based on the Morillo Map. It was the mother of all maps,” Angara said.

Strong evidence

“That should be a strong evidence of our ownership of Scarborough,” he said.

He noted that Scarborough Shoal’s “extreme proximity” to Zambales, 220 kilometers, compared to 840 km from the nearest coast of China in Hainan province.

Asked whether the maps would establish beyond any doubt the Philippine sovereignty over Scarborough, Angara said: “It’s one strong evidence, and we have other pieces of evidence.”

Angara, who coauthored Senate Bill No. 2181, which defines the baseline of the Philippine archipelago, said maps had always interested him.

“This fascination extends to collecting old maps. I think I was initially attracted to them out of curiosity and because of their age and rarity. Maps define our territory and our sense of nationhood. As a student of history, I realize how maps determine the fate of both the colonized and the colonizers, and how even to this day, the matter of geographic boundaries and the desire to expand or defend them underlie most of the turmoil in the world,” he said.

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  • AFPako

    Yuan Dynasty (11th century)  showed the expansion of Mongolian empire from far east of Manchuria to islands in the South China Sea (known internationally) to as far west as the oil fields of Baku , Azerbaijan. If you read of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan these were mean SOBs  of their time. Phlippine islands were inhabited by islanders god knows what . Filipinos were  unheard of , maybe just pockets of brown tribal groups inhabiting coastal towns in these archipelago. Each tribes had their own turf and carry own their usual lives, had their own laws and living inpeace. Most as we know they were mainly warring tribes fighting for turf and resources.  Pirates abound just like bad peoples nowadays. Either they be moro, polynesian,malayan, indo , Chinese or Vietcong savages, they were scums of the seas.  Then came the white men (kastilas)  in 1521 led by no other than Magellan. Europeans  were unheard  of in these islands . The islanders thought they were from heaven as they were whiteskinned. They received them with open arms but for all they knew these greedy Euros were out to skinned them alive, raped their women and children and steal their land. So history goes… After 333 yrs of their rule they gave us to a new white rule, the Kanos of North America. They were new masters of the sea and we all gladly follow them .

    Whle the white men of America conquered more lands with their industrial might, China on the other hand declined from 15th century to 1911.  And jumped to today’s China, they are reclaiming what their historical books have told them so. The South China Sea island s are theirs and mostly conflict will follow . We will again ask our former Kano masters to come back and help us out . They d stole these islands from 15th century period China and gave it to us in 1946 once  we got our independence.   So handa na tayo or we let our Kano bros do the legwork . THey have  interest on the oil and gas and they got the aircraft carriers so why are we taking pains. Let the superpowers sort this sxxx out. 

    • Andrei Constatino

       AFP ka o isa ka ring komunistang balimbing pinagttanggol mo pa china..mgbasa ka muna ng mga legal matters bout teritorial claims before you based your opinions on chinese made history…while telling us na wlang rights ang filipinos dahil wla alm mga sinaung tao nun…are telling us that china lang ang tao that time…for your information well known seafarers na mga pinoy that era your claiming china is the owner of the south china sea…study history especially about balangay

      • AFPako

        Aba nagpapaikik ka na sa mga legal matters, talking lawyer ka ba? Sounds like typical elitist crap . Im not favoring CHina or what, just talking of historical facts.  CHina is old ancient land with a long history, you cannot deny that. Philippine archipelago wasnt named Philippines until dirty Kastilas stole it from the local brown azzed inhabitants. Yes, they were using bancas and katig or sailboat as we see it now.  So did the Chinese junk anchored in HK harbor. Mag isip ka muna para kanamang lawyerazzed magsalita.

      • paolo

        AFP ka nga…..kaya ka pala bulok kasi AFP ka…..hahahaha…ano ka ba AIR FORCE na ang pinagmamalaki ay profeller airplanes…or navy na iisa ang barko….pulis na kriminal….o army na corrupt….kaya hindi umasenso tayo dahil sa mga tao na katulad nyo…good luck sa gera na haharapin nyo…isang bayoneta lang katapat nyo sa mga chinese….hindi ka pag aaksayahan ng isang missile ng china…AFP magsumbong na lang kayo sa mga kano…kahiya kayo…..takot naman sa china…

  • gloriamacatagal

    YES!!! kill all yellow in-bred blackhearted chinese freaks!!! drive them away from our philippine homeland. spit on their faces. rob them back of the money they stole from us. destroy their malls and shops that sell substandard merchandise. kidnap their children and have them return the money they get from us, as ransom. use their faces as mops to clean our floors and cars. chop them to pieces and use them as free feed to our exotic crocodiles and fishes. occupy their homes in posh subdivisions; they belong to us anyway. carjack their cars and use them to run them over. break their flat noses when they start talking chinese in front of you. defecate on their mouths to save flush water. feed them leftovers to save the world’s resources. ligate and vasectomize all of them so they can no longer infect the human race with their unwanted seed. have them row our ships and push our cars to save on fuel. send them to wars as suicide bombers instead of dogs so that military gains are best achieved. have them line up in shooting ranges to improve the shooting skills of our countrymen. make them work without wages until they die, to save on money and human labor; many chinese children will be there as reserve anyway. let us all do this. erase all chinese from the face of the earth, while putting them to better use!!!!!

    • Darius

      ayon sa statistics 7 milyong wlang trabaho sa pilipinas, sana itong 7 milyong ito gawin sundalo ng pilipinas at ikalat sa buong pilipinas…

  • MNLFoodcritic

    If China wins ownership of Scarborough Shoal in the international courts via their territories owned by the Han Dynasty, the Italian government can now claim all countries under the Roman Empire, the Republic of Macedonia can now claim all countries under Macedonian Alexander the Great, Mongolia can now claim all countries occupied by Genghis Khan.

  • Ricky Zhuang


    • Justforthe

      “do not underestimate the strength of safeguarding national sovereignty and will”  — so that is why you’re bullying us? pathetic.

  • Juan Miguel Tanjuakio

    China was part of Mongolia, theres a map to prove that.
    So Mongolians own “juan yan?” Island?

  • simbian

    if fisherman can claim islands, because they think they discover it, then fisherman should be the richest in the world.

  • resty144

     I very agree with senator Angara that with or without china we shall go to the ITLOS.

  • tkboy

    No negotiations, only war on the territorial issue!

  • Sebastianne

    Good article! Lets bring this issue to ITLOS and show them this map… Scarborough belong to us, Filipinos!

  • BlueHornet

    bring back the U.S. Bases in Subic

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