Manila, Philippines – THE nice thing about old maps is that they are incontestable. You can’t argue with old maps because they are official records of the past; a time that came and went long before we were born.
Well-respected legislator and good friend Sen. Edgardo J.
Angara is citing old maps to disprove the territorial claim of China on Panatag Shoal and its surrounding waters.
Angara, a known collector of ancient Philippine maps, said there is no historical or legal basis of the China claim under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (Unclos).
On the contrary, he said, an 1820 map made by European cartographers and contained in the book “Mapping the Philippines: The Spanish Period,“ indicates that Scarborough shoal and its surrounding areas have always been part of the Philippines.
The good senator revealed that as early as 1734, Scarborough Shoal was referred to as “Bajo Scarburo“ in the known world.
“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.
Angara said there is another map, this time, published in Madrid in 1875. It was republished by the US Department of War in 1899, a year after the Philippines was ceded to the US in the Treaty of Paris.
This general map of the Philippine Archipelago was the work of the Hydrographic Commission of the Philippines under the command of Claudio Montero y Gray.
Young students of history can view these maps in “Mapping the Philippines: The Spanish Period,“ a book authored by Angara, Jose Ma. A. Cariño and Sonia P. Ner, and published by the Rural Empowerment Assistance and Development in September 2009.
It is a wonderful, commendable book, in the sense that it makes current our rich Philippine past and endows Filipinos of today with the knowledge of what truly constitutes the Philippine islands.
For sure, the Philippine government and our legislators have consistently asserted that the Scarborough shoal is part and parcel of the Philippines. Still, it gives the average Filipino, like myself, a deep sense of vindication to see that history is on our side in this territorial dispute.