By Pia Lee-Brago
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Maps dating back to the early Spanish colonial period, which were the standard references for explorers and travelers and acknowledged by governments and regimes, clearly show Panatag Shoal, also called Panacot, just off the Philippine coast.
The maps are among 134 original maps on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “Three Hundred Years of Philippine Maps,” features maps of the archipelago from 1598 to the American colonial era.
The exhibit is part of the celebration of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day on June 30.
Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde’s 18th century “Mapa de las Islas Filipinas” clearly shows Panatag Shoal lying just across Zambales.
The Jesuit Murillo was given the task by Gov. Fernando Valdes Tamon in 1732 to execute a Royal decree on the mapping of the Philippines, which was then a territory of Spain.
Two years later, a complete map of the Philippines was conceived.
The engraver was Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay, described on the bottom of the map as an “indio tagalo.”
A smaller version of the map was made in 1744 and published in Murillo’s 1749 history of the Jesuit province. Fr. Miguel Selga, SJ in his bicentennial monograph in 1934, enumerated 125 important islands found in both maps.
Both show Panatag, then called Panacot. It was also called Bajo de Masinloc.
The plates of Murillo’s map disappeared when British invaders looted Manila in 1762-1764.
The name Bajo de Masinloc was a name given to the shoal by the Spanish colonizers.