A Map Considered the Birth Certificate of the Philippines Resurfaces


An exceedingly rare map considered the Philippines’ “birth certificate” has surfaced to the public. The Ramusio-Gastaldi Map is the first one that gave the name “Filipina” to the archipelago. 

The map, which is the first document that ever bore the name “Filipina” to describe the set of islands in the Visayas, was drawn in Europe in 1554—some 11 years after Ruy Lopez de Villalobos gave the name Felipena to the islands. At the time, cartographers had not yet mapped Luzon or the entirety of Mindanao. 

The Ramusio-Gastaldi Map of 1563: Birth Certificate ng Inang Bayan, Filipina

Photo by Leon Gallery.

Photo by Leon Gallery.

King Felipe II of Spain, the Namesake of the Philippines

Photo by Leon Gallery.
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Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, the Spanish explorer who named the islands in the Visayas, ‘Filipina’

Photo by Leon Gallery.

The Ramusio-Gastaldi Map was made by Giacomo Gastaldi, who was considered one of the finest cartographers of the age. Of Southeast Asia, he only produced three excellent cartographic works, one of which is the “birth certificate” map of the Philippines.


Gastaldi’s map of the Philippines was first published in Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s “Of The Navigation and Voyages Collected by Maximiliano Transilvano,” which is why the document is named Ramusio-Gastaldi Map.  

To produce the map, including the names of the islands in the region, Gastaldi relied on the handwritten accounts of the survivors from Magellan’s voyage to the Philippines. Antonio Pigafetta’s journal was among the primary sources of Gastaldi.

The 1554 map, which is a copperplate version of the third edition published in 1563, will go under the gavel with a starting bid of P2 million at Leon Gallery’s Magnificent September Auction on September 19, 2:00 p.m. 

Masterpieces are also open for viewing by appointment from September 12 to 18, Saturday to Friday at Leon Gallery, G/F Eurovilla I, Legazpi corner Rufino Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati. Visit www.leon-gallery.com for more information.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor-at-Large
Mario Alvaro Limos is features editor-at-large at Esquire Philippines, and heads the Lifestyle and Esports content of SPIN.ph as its section editor. Email him at [email protected] and [email protected]
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