Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spanish and Dutch Cannonballs: Naval battle off Marinduque

Asiadivesite.com map showing area between Marinduque and Banton, 
rich divesite areas. There a Dutch fire ship lies fallen, cold and coral encrusted.

A century before the manufacture of Boac’s 1751 cannon from Sweden, the Dutch and the Spanish forces were already fighting fierce naval battles with large contingents of Filipino volunteers fighting on the side of Spain. One of these bloody battles occurred between the islands of Banton and Marinduque on July 29, 1646 at around 7:00 PM. There, the two Spanish warships “Encarnacion” and “Rosario” were pitted against seven Dutch warships. Account of the battle follows in part:

Spanish Galleon

“At one point the Encarnacion got entangled with the Dutch almiranta, with the danger that the Dutch would board the flagship and force the outnumbered Spanish and Filipino troops in hand-to-hand combat. The mariners of the Spanish flagship immediately rushed to cut the tangled ropes, freeing both ships..."

Dutch ship. Willem van de Velde, The Cannon Shot (ca. 1670)

"The Dutch tried to blow up the Encarnacion by sending one of their fire ships, but it was repulsed by a continuous volley of artillery from the Spanish flagship. It turned to the Rosario, but it too was met with ten simultaneous shots which ignited its fireworks. The fire ship burst into flames and sank, killing more than 500 soldiers. The battle lasted till daybreak, and the Dutch fled.”

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila

Before the battle began, both General Orellana and Admiral Lopez, made public their vows to the Virgin of the Rosary in the name of the entire armada, that if they come out victorious against the Dutch, they will make a solemn feast in Her honor, and all of them would walk barefoot to Our Lady's chapel at Santo Domingo church, as a sign of thanksgiving.

Fray Joseph Fayol wrote in Affairs in Filipinas 1644-47 : “This must be one of the most unusual records known in naval warfare; it was a favor, evident beyond doubt, from God and His mother, who protect the Catholic power in these islands, on account of its importance to the propagation of His holy faith”. 

View of Southern Marinduque from Bellarocca Island (Elefante Island)

The Dutch after more losing battles eventually abandoned further incursions into the Philippines. The Spanish victories were attributed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila; declared a miracle in 1652 by the Cathedral Chapter of Manila and gave rise to the La Naval de Manila festivities celebrated until today. (Celebrated every 2nd Sunday of October at Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City.)

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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