1521-2021 (Part 6): Revisiting Enrique’s Role in the Exploration of Kapuluan (Choosing a More Intuitive Approach over a Purely Evidence-Based Approach to Interpreting History)

Published on by Vincent Ragay under

Before we end this series, let us take another look at the real significance of Enrique of Cebu’s role to Magellan and his expedition. In doing so, we need to take a wide detour as to how we have approached each historical narrative and how that approach differs from the generally-accepted methods used in religious, academic and scholastic circles.

Not being a historian (a formally-trained authority in historical studies) but a mere student of history, I try to write down how history may have transpired based on the available direct expressions, innate motivations or portrayed behaviors of those involved in the story within the particular conditions and the general context of their era. Hence, the aim is to recreate a close representation of the real story within the mind and heart of the characters rather than an accurate reconstruction of what happened based on the available records or references. After all, even primary sources could be initially inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent or even distorted to suit certain personal or political goals. On the other hand, interpretations can also be slanted toward any particular bias or misdirected conclusion.

Who decides what is true, right and consistent with the context of the narrative? The historian or writer. For any purveyor of a message must answer to the final arbiter of Truth. If such, it does not matter whether one covers secular or biblical history; for if the Creator indeed brought everything into existence and oversees all things, everything as well must be seen through His revealed words through the workings of His Spirit within the lives of humans, faithful or not. In our coverage of Kapuluan’s 500-year colonization history, therefore, we have endeavored to show that what the explorers did was not detached from the revealed word and the prevailing interpretations of that message by the major players within our narrative. That is, Columbus and Magellan, and certainly those potentates, popes and magistrates supporting their voyages as well, were motivated by their understanding of and obligations in their perceived roles as beneficiaries or stewards of the treasures and blessings bestowed by Heaven upon our ancestors. Thus, Magellan’s search for Solomon’s gold mines (as endorsed by the king) was not a myth-based or fly-by-night enterprise by a proverbial Don Quixote but, in the end, an evidence-founded, fully-vetted, historic undertaking by an entire global institution run by educated and experienced authorities. Whether their agenda were morally upright or not, we can only judge according to their actions and the fruits of those actions as recorded in history.

When we talk of Enrique or Magellan then, we deal only with the bottom players of that top-heavy hierarchy that set into motion the whole colonization program known as the Age of Exploration which began earnestly in the 16th century and lasted through the late 19th century, all a part of a well-concerted effort by people who believed themselves to be representatives of Christ, in one form or another. We had the pope as the supposed “Vicar of Christ”, the Spanish king as ruler of a Catholic nation and emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire”, and the explorers as knights of certain orders that upheld Christ as their ultimate leader. Magellan, as we said, was a virtual Knight Templar in the Order of Christ, while Antonio Pigafetta himself belonged to the Knights of Rhodes (also called Order of St. John which grew from Knights Hospitaller, established in Jerusalem in 1050 and became a military order during the first Crusade, which bore a cross emblem similar to that of the Knights Templar). Therefore, their lives and their actions cannot be detached from the biblical narrative and their assumed roles as believers. In fact, it is by that paradigm that we must approach their roles and experiences. And so, we need to look at them again from a more-intuitive pair of eyes through the Spirit. To do so, we must provide an example to show how that approach goes.

When the Book of Genesis relates the often-glossed-over story of Noah’s father, Lamech (9th from Adam), whose name means desperado or distraught, some surmise he was the same Lamech who killed Cain and, thus, bore the 7-fold curse upon the one who would kill Cain. (Remember that a person’s name is the working-and-covering title of his or her life: Consider Moses, Jacob/Israel, Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Simon/Peter, Emmanuel/Yahusha/Christ.) He could actually have been that person, for several intriguing reasons we will point out. And one compelling reason for Lamech’s despair had to do with the coming Great Flood.

Noah’s Ark was an epic project done by 4 generations, from Enoch to Noah

Enoch (7th from Adam — and whose name means one who initiates) had prophesied in the First Book of Enoch (Chapter 10) that a global disaster would come and that Noah (10th from Adam — and whose name means rest) would bring about the expected renewal of the Earth from the sin that had covered the world. Enoch had been translated (his body taken up; hence, his body was neither seen nor buried) and was with the angels, overseeing humans, perhaps. With that knowledge, along with the fact that Lamech’s father, Methuselah (8th from Adam – and whose name means when it comes, he will die – a reference to the Flood) also had a direct link to the disaster, Lamech felt he was being left out. What was he to do? Was he also going to die and not live beyond his son Noah’s time? Was he one of those to be judged and to die in the flood? How would you picture Lamech’s dilemma?

Consider the mental anguish of Lamech: He somehow knew his son Noah would save his family during the Flood and that Methuselah would die when that came. Lamech’s fate was either to die before the Flood came or during the Flood, just like his father Methuselah. When Noah started building the Ark at the age of 480, Lamech was already 662 while his father Methuselah was 849. As Lamech saw the Ark take form (with his help, most probably, along with other family members), the approach of his own death haunted him. Perhaps, Lamech thought he could ride the Ark he was helping to build. If not, why should he want to help finish it? And as long as Methuselah was alive and well, he felt quite relieved. But once the Ark was nearing completion and Methuselah suffered some illness, Lamech must have suffered mental torture. Were the tortures he suffered the curses he obtained for killing Cain? For he eventually died at 777 (consider the coincidence of that with the 7 curses he might have borne), 5 years before the Flood came, way below the life expectancy of 900 or more at that time. His nervousness must have greatly affected his health and his capacity to relish a meaningful and bountiful life – a curse no one would wish to have.  

What about Methuselah? He died at 969 when the Flood came. But how exactly? Do we have accounts of his death in or through the Flood? This is where we apply more of our intuition or imagination. Three possibilities are available. Either he drowned in the Flood along with the sinners, or died of old age as the Flood rose up high while inside the Ark, or outside the Ark as the Flood rose but not by drowning. Remember, his name prophesied his death when the disaster would come. But Noah entered the Ark – and God closed the door behind him — 6 days before it started to rain, practically the final days of Methuselah before the Flood came. It took another 40 days for the Flood to rise and cover the Earth; so, the Flood came only after the 6 days of no rain. Where was Methuselah?

If you were Noah and you knew your grandfather was also a righteous man, would you have left him outside the Ark? If we assume Noah took with him the remains of his ancestors, starting with Adam and Eve, why would he let his grandfather drown? Hence, one scenario would show Methuselah dying inside the Ark with Noah and his family. But if Methuselah was unrighteous and had thought Noah crazy for building the Ark, he would have drowned in the Flood along with the sinners. But could Noah have, at least, allowed him not to drown while having the chance to retrieve his remains, for it was a sacred practice among the ancients even up to the time of Jacob in Egypt? So, the third option would show Noah having built an upper room on the rooftop of the Ark which Methuselah could have accessed through a ladder and where he stayed and waited for his death 6 days before the Flood came. That would have spared the passengers of the Ark the distress of having a decomposing body inside. Moreover, that option was also available for Methuselah if he were a righteous man; for only the living were allowed inside the Ark.

So there! Whether these possibilities are right or not is not of prime consideration, for they are all based on the available evidence and present reasonably plausible, intuitive reasons for what people did, how they might have thought under those peculiar circumstances and what made them worthy of God’s calling or not, given the context of their lives. For such stories are our only window through which we can also pattern our own life decisions and our actions as we encounter opportunities and struggles. A technical and sophisticated approach to studying the past in order to derive guiding principles, while having some academic and scientific, as well as ethical, value, does not exclusively determine how we can derive essential principles needed to establish a real foundation by which the ancients applied throughout the centuries and which we can also apply in the present. Those eternal and unchanging principles have always been there and will remain no matter how we approach them. We aim for a more organic and spiritual approach that conforms to the pattern of divine grace and wisdom accessible through the abiding Spirit.        

Yahusha heals the paralytic, Bernhard Rode, 1780

That is also why when the Lord Yahusha used simple parables and illustrations to teach people, He always did so with the heart and mind as the focus and not merely the accuracy of his methods or materials, although He certainly knew that His ways and tools were authentic and true as well. He knew the hearts of humans and began from there, using pictures and situations that led His listeners to see their selves in the stories; for they were the actual actors He was using to color His narratives – their thoughts, their feelings, their problems, their dreams and their shortcomings. And all those He told in a compelling way in order to convince them there was a better way and that He had the best solutions as well, not humans who have fake or unorganic solutions.

Hence, when the Lord used a lame man to prove He could also forgive sins, He did it in a dramatic way that those who doubted His abilities and His credentials would be silenced in their pride and unbelief. They could not see themselves as sick and sinful persons who also needed healing and forgiveness through faith and, thus, neither learned from the miracles nor from the stories. Why? Because they were looking for someone else and only trusting their own “technical or scientific” traditions and teachings (Talmud-based, tradition-derived, material interpretations, or legalistic, letter-for-letter, hermeneutically-correct reading of the biblical text). The Lord’s prime source of Truth and Power was Himself – He needed no other reference for His preeminence. Either people accepted Him, as He said He was or as He authenticated Himself to be by mighty deeds, or not.

And so, a more intuitive approach to studying the past will stand by its own integrity based on how we ourselves perceive our own humanity with reference to the conditions within which narratives were so perceived. (As defined, intuition is “insight, direct or immediate cognition, spiritual perception“, not simple instinct based on feelings or guess work.) Of course, some narratives in secular or inspired literature remain unsolved or unresolved; that is, they have remained as mysteries and are better off left as they are: mysteries. But that does not stop us from speculating what may have happened or what they really signify in order to derive some valuable insights.

And that is precisely the beauty of studying history (“searching the scriptures”) and allowing ourselves the freedom to come out with possibilities. We may not have the tools to paint to the finest pixel the events that we wish to dissect; but we can revel in the freedom to see possibilities and wonders in the written record or even in the hidden narratives, based on how we would visualize them. (Remember, the magi found the baby Christ by following the “star in the East“. So, we see how even Nature can help us understand the times and the epochs of God through the guidance of Heaven. Let us then widen our minds. Why limit ourselves exclusively to the evidences of the written word when God works and reveals Himself through all things, including our souls, spirits, experiences, relations and our environment — today more so, not in the past alone. The people in the Bible were living souls like us interacting with God. We need not always see God only through their eyes or experiences.) Having such kind of freedom does not always mean we sin or present an alternative truth when the absence of that Absolute Truth we assume to be there is not itself confirmed. The Lord encourages us to seek wisdom from Him and He will grant it. (James 1:5-8) In that case, our thoughts can be guided to a level of wisdom that may not be popular but can still be validly seen as right in the word of God – the final standard of Truth, not human doctrines and laws. For He does reveal mysteries to those who seek earnestly. Is not that what wisdom is all about? Did Daniel know dreams because he was smart and diligent in research? Or was he totally dependent on God? And so, our insights or our intuitions can be directed properly by the Spirit as well as long as we seek His light and abide by His path. (Our series on Organic Faith presents how the Spirit does this as our real-time, in-heart Lifeline to the Truth of Christ.)

Hence, believers can also view and judge “secular” history (for there is no such thing, as we said) through the eyes of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:13-16; 1 Cor. 6:2-3) Whether we talk of colonial history or a viral pandemic, the Judge in Heaven has His hand on it and has a word for it; and seeking His wisdom through the epochs we went through and go through is not only proper but expected of those whose roles involve encouraging and teaching others. Hiding in our dark closets, well-trimmed enclaves or carpeted sanctuaries while souls are being massacred in the streets is not the way to wage spiritual warfare. In fact, we could be endangering our own lives by hiding and being complacent.

Enrique of Cebu

The search for enlightenment or wisdom in the study of “secular” history also depends generally on how words are used. The medium of language by which God or humans communicate is the only tool we have to allow us to grasp the vital principles we seek to enhance our existence on this Earth. In reviewing the history of the colonization of Kapuluan since 1521, the question of language arises so many times. In this particular case, we have asked the question: Did Enrique speak Malayan alone or also Cebuano?  As a corollary: Can two totally different languages come from one origin? Hardly. Although Waray may be similar to Cebuano is some ways today, they could have been totally different a long time ago before there was any substantial interaction. For how did the people of Babel, who originally spoke one language, end up not understanding each other? Did a tongue-and-brain virus suddenly attack them, causing them to instantly revise their DNA for pronouncing words and processing meanings? Many accept that was how languages came about. But the simple truth is that people of different languages really do not understand each other. The curse-miracle of Babel has remained and will remain even though we speak one common language but without the Spirit giving us first organic understanding of His Truth. In fact, that is what the world today is: a virtual Babel and veritable Babylon.

In similar fashion, due to our archipelagic nature, we could have had various dialects which were more-significantly varied then than they are now. For even Ifugaos cannot converse with Tausugs today. I could even hardly converse with an Ilonggo with my Cebuano. And we lived on the same island separated only by a virtual line and a few mountains. So, Enrique could not converse with the Masawans, who must have spoken ancient Butuanon, for that same essential reason, but could talk to Humabon and Lapulapu in Cebuano as an emissary. He was even scolded by Serrano for not wanting to get out of bed after Magellan had died when he was told to talk to them to procure provisions. That is also when he connived with the natives to massacre the Spanish to take revenge, for his inheritance of money and freedom upon Magellan’s death Serrano would not grant. How could he have conspired with the king if he knew only Malayan?

To assume that the king knew Malayan to prove Enrique was Malayan is also myopic. Enrique was well-travelled as a sailor; that is why Magellan retained him. More than that, he knew Cebuano because he came from there. And Magellan, like Columbus, was precisely looking for Ophir and Sheba, the source of Solomon’s gold. So, he was specifically looking for a place named Sheba or Seba or Subu. That he found someone who knew such things while in Malacca was not an accident but a result of his intentions. He certainly must have met some Luzones (natives of Luzon Island) doing trade there who could have pointed out Enrique as one who came from Cebu — the magic word in Magellan’s ears. Enrique and Magellan knew where they were going and knew it firsthand – and must have gone there together — even before they began the expedition. If Enrique was not familiar with Cebu, he and Magellan would not have convinced the king to support the expedition. And why would Magellan bring someone who spoke only Malayan when he needed someone who spoke Cebuano? There were so many of those in Malacca, including some who also spoke Tagalog; but Enrique alone fit the precise qualifications Magellan wanted in order to succeed in his venture.

Moreover, how come Enrique or the Cebuanos never had any records of their encounters with the foreigners? Were we that illiterate? Or were the records systematically eliminated? Enrique must have learned to write and to keep journals as well. He was after all paid 500 maravedis more than what Pigafetta received and must have picked up those skills while also learning some Italian from his learned shipmate. Learning Spanish and Portuguese along with speaking other languages and talking to captains, scholars and even kings must have made him more than a sailor or slave and more like a gentleman-navigator-scholar. After all, he was a translator, so he must have taken some notes to make sure he remembered word correspondences in at least 3 languages. (Remember, they first talked to the uncooperative king of Portugal.) That is not an easy task for a plain, simple-minded slave upon which Magellan depended so much and whom he exhibited before the king of Spain, an enemy of the king of Portugal!

Imagine Magellan, a Portuguese, bringing along into the king’s court a dark-skinned, half-naked guy who can speak Portuguese and Spanish, along with his own tongue, and who makes a case for Magellan successfully without even carrying notes or at least having kept some in case he needed them before such an assemblage. We can assume Magellan could have done all of that himself, but the king did converse directly with Enrique and must have pried out of him details of his qualifications and authenticity. If not, the ministers would have done so, especially the minister of finance who was dealing with a naturalized Portuguese-to-Spaniard — a traitor to his country, at that. Or perhaps, a potential Portuguese spy or swindler working in Spain.

If Magellan had doubts about Enrique, so would have the Spanish authorities. Today, even people of Kapuluan doubt Enrique’s progeny and stature as a well-educated man. He went through a decade of full-time, global tutelage under Magellan, enough for some of us to acquire a doctorate or thorough proficiency in any field in the arts or letters. From Kapuluan to Malacca to Portugal to Spain and through the Pacific Ocean, our heroic adventurer saw and experienced what most of us could only watch on YouTube or Netflix; and he accomplished his mission with great success.

Passepartout (Cantinflas) and Phileas Fogg (David Niven) in Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days Classic Hollywood Film, 1956

Furthermore, Enrique must have dressed and lived more like the way his masters did than the way his people dressed while in Europe and on his way home. How can you survive in Europe for years and then a 1-year journey at sea in g-strings? Think of the English butlers, like Passepartout in Jules Verne’s tale of world travel in 80 days, who lived along with their masters and who were more versatile than most ordinary people. Why? Because they served and lived in two different worlds for a big part of their lives. Such was Enrique. Scholars and academicians will see many loopholes in this revised narrative; but the recorded accounts of Pigafetta could just as well bear this out as much as they do the official narrative. We have shown other vital proofs in the previous article that Magellan found the route to Kapuluan with a lot of help from Enrique who did know Cebu and led the Spanish to it successfully. Otherwise, in the eastern half of the largely “unexplored” world (at least, in the eyes of the Europeans), Magellan would have been looking for a bead in the Serengeti plains. No better than Columbus who stumbled on the “fake east” in the West Indies.

Magellan’s respect, care and evident love for Enrique portrayed a genuine expression of gratitude for someone who could bring him glory and fortune as a sailor and Knight Templar, as we have said previously. Moreover, it was an expression of his piety and religious zeal to provide material and moral support for someone who proved to be so valuable to him and his enterprise. We also need to tell Magellan’s personal story a few years before he began his journey. He had married a Spanish woman who bore him 2 sons, who must have grown up knowing Enrique as their loving, jolly and versatile uncle, for such are the natives of Kapuluan. Unfortunately, Magellan’s sons died at a very young age before he finally secured passage to Asia (his wife died in the same year he died, in 1521). That tragedy must have been a big factor that pushed him to strive to redeem himself in the eyes of the Portuguese, of the Spanish, and more so, of God. His zeal as a Catholic he did pursue through his vocation as a knight of the Order of Christ by converting natives and planting crosses. Hence, beyond securing wealth for Spain, he was seeking affirmation from the pope and his grand master, as a way fulfilling his duties and the required penance.

Magellan outnumbered and outfought at the Battle of Maktan, 1521

And so, having Enrique along was Magellan’s emotional crutch that somehow helped him endure to the end. (Pigafetta wrote that after their arrival in Kapuluan, he had become so irritable and rash. And he probably remained that way up to the time he volunteered to fight Lapulapu in a foolhardy manner, refusing any help from Humabon and the other rajahs.) Yet another thing that kept him focused in spite of his emotional burdens was the supposed presence of a young man in the crew who was said to be his son by another woman in his younger years in Portugal, among others. (As the saying goes, every Popeye has an Olive Oyl in every port, toot-toot!) That young man was with him when he fell in Maktan. In fact, he had tried to defend his son from the enemies while fending off attacks himself, leading to his death. Although he had ordered everyone to retreat (many did, including Enrique), his son remained on his side. In fairness, his valor was honored by Lapulapu, who kept his corpse as trophy even though the Spaniards sought vainly to recover it. Thus, Magellan died with his son in Maktan, along with his dream of becoming the future free-lance, colonial ruler of Cebu with the assistance of his son and Enrique. Who better to help him rule Cebu: a Spaniard or a Malayan? Neither — a Cebuano! Enrique would have surely become a trusted minister of Governor-General Magellan, had the latter survived.

Magellan’s arrival and the tragic yet gallant end of his life marked the beginning of Spanish colonization of Kapuluan. Enrique played a vital role that many have downplayed because of certain reasons we have tried to dispel. Again, we repeat the point that the dynamic duo and their entire crew and fleet were gospel-motivated explorers on assignment by rulers who were also bible-believers who practiced a form of religion that they intended to propagate and impose worldwide, as they had and have been doing so through their descendants for centuries. Their words, deeds and fruits through the whole process still lay in the balance for God and His people to weigh at any time through His revealed word. For how else can we move on at any point in history? Did Rizal, the reformers and the revolutionaries leave God and His word out of the narrative? No! Should we? Try!

The takeout from this article is not necessarily a definitive interpretation of events but a potential diorama of human drama that can serve to mold for us a clearer and more dynamic perspective of our legacies as a people. For the many centuries we have been denied that vision of who we truly are and what we have accomplished as a people, we now declare that we rightfully deserve to claim a full refreshing of our hearts and minds through those God-given treasures and promises which had been bestowed upon our ancestors and which Heaven has reserved for us in the day of reckoning. 

(Note: Illustrations courtesy of www.google.com)


  1. The World of Lapulapu
  2. Our Ancestors in Magellanic Sources
  3. Highlights of the Quincentennial Commemoration of the Victory in Mactan April 27, 2021
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