We always know the fact that Fernão de Magalhães "discovered" the Philippines in 1521 when left Spain two years earlier in search for an alternative passage to India. Although he really didn't completed the circumnavigation of the world, his expedition has started the first "space race" between age-old rivals Spain and Portugal.

Have you asked yourself about the possibility of a failed Magellan expedition? If the mutiny at Puerto San Julian on March 30, 1520 succeeded then the expedition would have not reached the Philippines without Magellan at the helm. Even if they proceeded to cross the Pacific with a new leader Juan Sebastian Elcano, they would have failed to reach their intended destination in the vast ocean.

It would have been certain that the Portuguese will "discover" the Philippines sooner or later. By 1521, the year that Philippines was "historically" discovered, the Portuguese has already explored, discovered and ruled most of the islands and territories close to the Philippines. It is likely that they have known of the place by now. Spain would have sent another explorer should the Magellan expedition failed but it is not certain if they will follow the longer route towards South America and across the Pacific just to reach the Philippines.

Without Magellan, English navigator Sir Francis Drake would become the first to circumnavigate the Earth. There will be no Pacific crossing for Spain until 1598. The Portuguese would have a lot to gain by colonizing the Philippines. It has a very strategic position in Asia as it gives them a foothold near China, Japan and the Spice Islands.


How will they rule the Philippines?

It would have been different as the Portuguese were more concerned about getting as much economic value from their colonies than proselytizing Christianity. It is likely that both Luzon and Visayas would be Christianized but the Portuguese prefer a vassal state still ruled by local chieftains and the islands would probably retain their local culture. However, it may bring in people from Africa to work on plantations and agricultural estates just like they did in Brazil. In order to increase productivity and trading power, the Portuguese may allow people from the region like the Indians, Chinese and other Malay groups to settle so that the Philippines would probably be like the multicultural Malaysia and Singapore that we know.

Portuguese would be the lingua franca of the Portuguese East Indies. Ilocano and Tagalog were minor languages before the Spanish came and they took advantage of the shift in population and the divide and conquer strategy by the Spanish. Had Kapampangan remained its dominance, the languages similar to it like the Ibanag of the Cagayan Valley and the Sambal of Zambales will flourish but they will be subject to Kapampangan influence and most likely Tagalog and Ilocano would be the ones endangered at this point.


Sugbu may have been made capital because of its strategic location. Places would have Portuguese names from Novo Lisboa to Novo Porto. If the Portuguese East Indies (including the Philippines) becomes an independent country then it would be part of a pan-Malay superstate would encompass present-day Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.


After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, there was spread of liberalism throughout Europe as well as its colonies where there is a growing clamor for natural rights and popular sovereignty. It was the Liberales, who were formed three years earlier in Spain, that advocated for greater rights for every citizen both from the motherland and its far-flung colonies. The Philippines is no exception and the growing influence of this movement has inspired the people to demand for more rights from its colonial masters.

The mutiny by Spanish creole officer Andres Novales didn't happened without a lot of thinking. There was widespread discontentment towards the treatment of creoles and Filipinos (Philippine-born Spanish that were also called as "Insulares") by the "Peninsulares" (the colonial administrators that were from mainland sent by the Crown to the colony). By this time, the Spanish America was already in a state of rebellion with Mexico gaining independence in 1821.

It was this time that Novales became more and more militant after Peninsulares were sent to replace the creole officers in the colony. He found sympathy of many Creoles including the self-styled Conde Filipino Luis Rodríguez Varela. As punishment to the rising sense of discontentment, many military officers and public officials were exiled including Novales, who was exiled to Mindanao to fight the Muslims. However, he managed to return to Manila. On the night of June 1, 1823, Novales along with other subordinates in the King's Regiment went out to start a revolt.

Along with 800 Filipinos recruited to join them, they managed to seize the royal palace, the Manila Cathedral, the city's cabildo and other important government buildings in Intramuros. However, the failed to find Governor-General Juan Antonio Martínez so they killed the lieutenant governor and former governor general Mariano Fernandez de Folgueras, the one who suggested the replacement of the creole officers.

Following the footsteps of the Mexican Revolution led by Miguel Hidalgo and Agustin Iturbide (who, at one time, became Emperor Agustin I of the First Mexican Empire), the soldiers shouted with ecstasy Viva la independencia (Long live independence) and Viva el Emperador Novales (Long live the Emperor Novales) as they head towards Camino Real.


In just one day, the fate of the colony hangs in the balance. "Emperor" Novales and his supporters were already enroute towards Intramuros and there was one man standing in their way - Lieutenant Mariano Novales, his own brother.

"This is my moment dear brother, to liberate our country from the hands of oppressors. I am already master of the city and of the palace, and all of the constituted authorities. I therefore exhort you to join me in proclaiming independence in the fort you command, and to prepare to defend the sacred cause like a true citizen."

"Like you I am a Filipino. I feel the injustice done to the loyal sons of the soil, and I know that what has happened to some of you will eventually happen to the rest of us."

In this forgotten moment in Philippine history, Mariano, who commanded the citadel, refused to open its gates. What would have happened if Andres Novales and his supporters got inside the Intramuros?

The divergence in this event would have created a butterfly effect that would have drastically changed the course of history and we would have never recognize what the country would be like in their alternate 2015.

Growing popular support will ensure the survival of an independent Philippines ruled by creoles and Insulares. This is where the lessons of the liberal movement has to be applied so that the country will survive. He witnessed and learned about the events of the French Revolution (1789), the Cadiz Constitution (1812) and the burgeoning republics in the former colonies. It is likely that Novales would have installed a constitutional monarchy.

Best Case Scenario:

The country would slowly grow and have its own Industrial Revolution in the late 1850s. At this time, the Philippines would have a decent-sized military to protect itself as Spain may have intentions to retake the colony by force. As the only Western-civilized independent nation in East Asia, it will maintain good relations with European powers in the region. It will gain support from the independent republics of the Western Hemisphere, from the United States to Brazil. Good relations with other countries will allow the Philippines to bring in Western ideas to modernize and industrialize itself.

The Philippines would have increased its influence on other Asian colonies still controlled by the British, Dutch and French so that India might revolt early or the Dutch East Indies will implode and balkanized into smaller independent states and sultanates.

Worse Case Scenario:

As an archipelago, the Philippines would have suffered the divisiveness that still plague us today. We can compare an early 1820's independent country with that of Mexico, a country that suffered its share of civil wars and brigandage in the countryside. The British, Dutch and French colonial powers in the region would probably contain the Philippines and may intervene in any internal conflicts in order to project their influence.


Too bad, the mutiny was crushed in our historical timeline. The Novales mutiny is just forgotten moment in Filipino history not even given its deserved attention. In fact, it is not even a footnote in most textbooks today. As we commemorate our Independence Day, it is worthy to remember his drive for independence. Although a man of mixed blood, Andres Novales was a veteran soldier who fought in many wars including the independence of the Philippines.

If the Novales Mutiny became a successful declaration of independence, we would have celebrated that historical event every June 1 in Manila and not the June 12, 1898 event in Kawit, Cavite.

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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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