MAP Insights

Occasional Poetry on the 500th year of the Circumnavigation of the World and the Arrival of Christianity in the Philippines (March 1521)

The coronavirus — red-hot dots in man’s circle of life under a Copernican sun? Five centuries past, five ships ply oceans across cumulus, cirrus and ominous clouds to prove the world isn’t flat — through Westward spiceland tracks escaping Arab-cornered trades.

To trounce vaccine oligopsony, why travel now ‘round the earth’s shadows with astrolabes, a coarse analog computer — try notion of nations as people, united North star icon of a blue planet’s destiny!

Not markets of old conquered by pure private profits, not ideology-inspired political geography, or colonial masters sequestering native real estate. A dot in a sphere — not necessarily a perfect circle of 21st Century pandemic fate — evolving in yet another space.

Regrets and rewards from circumnavigation more materially immediate, from Christianization less proximate. Multi-cultured crew, clergy and chroniclers sailing from Sanlucar de Barrameda on September 1519 — lessons through today quite infinite:

March 1521, nonpacific ocean-weary pioneers after mutiny and theft, storms and death, reach gold-laden isles with guns, germs and cross, vanquished later by Lapulapu and his bolos/spears-wielding men, both white and brown, and all shades in between, dead on the shores of Mactan. Unanimated faith of natives slept until decades later rebaptized by more expeditionary waves of messengers in frocks and capes.

November of the same year, two months of a contract deadline shy, the Victoria triumphantly reaches home the motherland through different seas and sky, with erstwhile provisions-heavy Trinidad, once commanded by a slight-limped Magellan, fly the flag of a victor now gone.

To an unknown future, the onward sail of technology creates grave anxiety among people nouveaux rich or poor —

What is there to manage when everywhere there may be carnage beyond comfort Zooms, unclear nuclear threat, closer climate doom, and to the many disadvantaged, less rich in hope with children, malnourished/ “uneducable,” richer only in dreams for another revolution, in faith for next life’s salvation?

Will a winner who takes all — the fate of whom the planet’s losers may call, castrate in rites of cyber-circumcision the power of others to create uncommon good — in tit for tat, firewall a message to gods the pleas for peace on earth’s own misbegotten moons, and tweet an exultant final farewell to frenemies, an “ultimo a Dios”?

Grounding ourselves in the golden rule for humans and humanoids, with new areas programmed for robots with feelings for survival, a greater Creation of our galaxian conversion are we ready to face and embrace the visitors from a space civilization who have rounded, beyond seven times seven, Bathala’s infinitely wider and wiser worlds of redemption.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.


Federico “Poch” M. Macaranas is Vice-Chair for Lifelong Learning (LLL) Program of the MAP Human Capital and Development Committee. The LLL Program designs critical thinking and creativity programs for young leaders, in spirit or age, including University presidents reaching out to industry. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Asian Institute of Management.