Can historic map prove Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines?

Rare Philippines Map
MEL VELARDE points to Bajo deMasinloc, now known as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, as incontrovertible proof that it has always been part of the Philippines – Photo by RICHARD A. REYES –

The $237.300 dollar map of the Philippines could assist the country in its effort to make a final stand on Scarborough Shoal.

The rare parchment map was bought at Sotheby’s London by Mel Velasco Velarde.


When the news of the map became known throughout the world some thought it could be the historical marker that would return Scarborough Shoal to the Philippines. However the Philippines and China have ‘duked’ it out at the Hague and are still in the midst of numerous rounds of ‘proof’ to what is and what isn’t theirs.

Velarde is proud of his purchase and although he admits the final price was a staggering amount, his purchase was worth every peso. The CEO of Now Corp and the chair of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, he was listed as the Philippines top taxpayer in 2009.

The map is considered a rarity in the world of antique maps, though not a auction setting record, the $237,300 dollars paid was nothing short of astonishing. Published in 1734 in Manila, “Carta hydrographica y chorographica de las Islas Filipinas” was made by the Jesuit friar Pedro Murillo Velarde, and drawn and engraved by indios Francisco Suarez and Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay.

Proof in the “Mother of All Maps” The 1734 Murillo Map –

Hailed for its stunning and amazing accuracy, the map is considered the “Holy Grail of the Philippine cartography” it measures 1.2 by 1.5 metres with 12 vignettes showing the ethnic groups of the islands, the fauna and flora, and the topography of colonial-era Manila.

The map untimately shows one other important piece of history – the land mass known then as “Bajo de Masinloc” and “Panacot,” – today those two land masses are known as Panatag and Scarborough Shoal.