New products inspired by the 1734 Murillo Velarde vintage map of the Philippines have captured the world’s attention and are igniting Filipino nationalism as the country moves closer to the 2020 Philippine Independence Day on June 12 and the Philippine Quincentennial celebration in 2021.
Photos of the Papemelroti-designed items which draw inspiration from the Mapa de las Islas Filipinas, the first scientific map of the Philippines, were posted on social media by visual artist Robert Alejandro and caught netizens’ fancy.
“Help!” the Pinoy artist and former TV personality posted on Facebook on May 31, 2020. “I would appreciate any suggestions, ideas how to market our partner site to Filipino communities living overseas. Thank you very much!”
The new items include a face mask, shower curtain, throw pillow, bed cover, shirts, pants, hoodies, socks, purse, wall clock, and cups, all designed with a map inspired from the “Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Islas Filipinas” created by Spanish Jesuit cartographer Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696-1753) with the help of two Filipino artisans Francisco Suarez and Nicolas dela Cruz Bagay in 1734 in Manila.
Historians consider the 1734 Murillo Velarde Map as the “mother of all Philippine maps”, which came to life as requested by then Governor-General Fernando Valdés Tamón in compliance with King Philip II’s order.
The 1734 Murillo Velarde Map found its way home in the Philippines from London in United Kingdom on April 29, 2017, after Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) Chairman and CEO Mel V. Velarde won the bid in the auction among the 80 heirlooms owned by the Duke of Northumberland, Ralph George Algernon Percy.
It was October 2, 2019 when it was properly turned over to the Philippine government through the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).
The old map is also an important artifact in supporting the country’s claim to some of the islands, islets, and shoals in the West Philippine Sea as it shows Panacot, presently known as Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, and the Los Bajos de Paragua or the Island of Spratlys.
Alejandro’s post amassed praises, inquiries, and offers of assistance from his online friends and followers.
“So nice!” said Myca Marquez- Lucindo. “Sell thru Amazon or Ebay. Post in FB groups, Marketplace. Create a site so people can order.”
“I would buy this too,” Chi Laigo Vallido said on the comment section. “Sana local din. How about a children’s version or toddler version so that growing up, they’d know about their country and heritage even if born abroad.”
Jowee Alviar suggested, “Kuya Robert. Try using targeted google or facebook ads to reach the specific region. Also introduce the site to FilAm communities here in FB.”
And since Robert Alejandro’s Red Bubble partners abroad can’t ship the items yet to the Philippines, some requested to keep them posted.
“Sir Robert, kindly update na lang us po kapag available na po here in Ph. Ty!” Janna Bondad Llaneta wrote.
“Let us know if this becomes available locally please i love the blanket, mugs, and clock!” Jasmin Meren said.
A copy of the Murillo Velarde Map was auctioned for a record-breaking £260,000 by the Reeman Dansie Auction house in September 2019.
In 2021, the Philippines will mark the 500th year anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan and the victory of Lapu-Lapu in the Battle of Mactan.
Among the activities leading up to the quincentennial celebrations was the symbolic sailing of the Balangay in December 2019.
Just this April, Papemelroti co-founder Robert Alejandro hosted a free online art workshop on Facebook Live to encourage people to learn visual art while staying at home during the community quarantine.
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