Nothing is more extraordinary than the navigation of Magellan upon this ocean, which he called Pacific, because for four months no storm assailed him upon it. The privations endured by the crews during this long space of time were excessive. The biscuit was nothing more than dust mixed with worms, while the water had become bad and gave out an unbearable smell. The sailors were obliged to eat mice and sawdust to prevent themselves from dying of hunger, and to gnaw all the leather that it was possible to find. As it was easy to foresee under these circumstances, the crews were decimated by scurvy. Nineteen men died, and thirty were seized with violent pains in their arms and legs, which caused prolonged sufferings. At last, after having sailed over more than 12,000 miles without meeting with a single island, in a sea where so many and such populous archipelagos were destined to be discovered, the fleet came upon two desert and sterile islands, called for that reason the Unfortunate Islands, but of which the position is indicated in much too contradictory a manner, for it to be possible to recognize them.

In 12° north latitude and 146° longitude, on Wednesday the 6th of March, the navigators discovered successively three islands, at which they greatly desired to stop to recruit, and take in fresh provisions; but the islanders who came on board stole so many things, without the possibility of preventing them, that the sailors were obliged to give up the idea of remaining there. The natives contrived even to carry off a long boat. Magellan, indignant at such daring, made a descent with forty armed men, burned some houses and boats, and killed seven men. These islanders had neither chief, king, nor religion. Their heads were covered with palm-leaf hats, they wore beards, and their hair descended to their waists. Generally of an olive tint, they thought they embellished themselves by colouring their teeth black and red, while their bodies were anointed with cocoa-nut oil, no doubt in order to protect themselves from the heat of the sun. Their canoes of curious construction, carried a very large matting sail, which might have easily capsized the boat if the precaution had not been taken of giving a more stable trim by means of a long piece of wood kept at a certain distance by two poles; this is what is called the "balance." These islanders were very industrious, but had a singular aptitude for stealing, which has gained for their country the name of the Islands of Thieves (Ladrone Islands).

The Ladrone Islands
The Ladrone Islands.
From an old print.

On the 16th of March was seen, at about 900 miles from the Ladrones, some high ground; this was soon discovered to be an island which now goes by the name of Samar Island. There Magellan, resolving to give his exhausted crews some rest, caused two tents to be pitched on land for the use of the sick. The natives quickly brought bananas, palm wine, cocoa-nuts, and fish; for which mirrors, combs, bells, and other similar trifles were offered in exchange. The cocoa-nut, a tree which is valuable beyond all others, supplied these natives with their bread, wine, oil, and vinegar, and besides they obtained from it their clothing and the necessary wood for building and roofing in their huts.

The natives soon became familiar with the Spaniards, and told them that their archipelago produced cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmegs, ginger, maize or Indian-corn, and that even gold was found there. Magellan gave this archipelago the name of the St. Lazarus Islands, afterwards changed to that of the Philippines from the name of Philip of Austria, son of Charles V.

This archipelago is formed of a great number of islands which extend in Malaysia, between 5° 32' and 19° 38' north latitude, and 114° 56' and 123° 43' longitude east of the meridian of Paris. The most important are Luzon, Mindoro, Leyte, the Ceylon of Pigafetta, Samar, Panay, Negros, Zebu, Bohol, Palawan, and Mindanao.