Yes, there is a 300-year old Philippine map that apparently proves that South China Sea is truly part of the Philippines. And now, this so-called first and most important scientific map of the Philippines is now here in the country. Thanks to Filipino businessman named Mel Velarde, who bought it for P12 million in Sotheby’s auction in London back in 2014.
Based on records, this “Mother of all Philippine Maps” was designed by Jesuit Father Pedro Murillo Velarde in Manila in 1734. It was drawn and engraved by Filipino artist, Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay. That time, Philippines was under the Spanish colony but the British forces beat the Spaniards in the Battle of Manila, on October 6, 1762.
Unfortunately, the said ancient map was one of the stolen artifacts by British soldiers led by Brigadier General William Draper, and was brought to Britain. One of Its copperplates was bought by the Duke of Northumberland, who kept it at Alnwick Castle, which has been featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films.
In April 2012, the Northumberland County suffered from heavy rain and was heavily flooded, and caused massive damage to the surrounding areas. Ralph George Algernon Percy, the sitting Duke of Northumberland needed £12 million bill for repairs, so he decided to auction his family’s collection, including the 1734 Murillo Velarde map.
In June 2015, the Philippine government submitted a copy of this map to the United Nation Arbitral Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague, as support to its ownership claim over the South China Sea. On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) concluded that South China Sea is geographically owned by the Philippines.
Credit: World Digital Library
But as we all know, China does not recognize the authority of the United Nation Arbitral Tribunal. So far, President Rodrigo Duterte is being friendly with China despite the controversial territorial claim. Meanwhile, Mel Velarde is set to officially donate the Murillo Velarde Philippine map to the government this June 12, Philippine Independence Day.