Mother of all PH maps coming home


New personal directions

Acquiring the map then became as much a personal goal as it was a business decision. “I’m in the technology business … and I endlessly admire the collaboration of skills and technology between Father Murillo Velarde and his team,” Velarde said.

He added: “At 50, I think the Murillo Velarde map revealed and signaled new personal directions for me—which is to use technology and the best it offers for education.”

Velarde recalled that he was in the middle of his “research on neuroscience, religion and morality,” when the map emerged in the air, thanks to Carpio who told him about the auction.

Carpio had approached several private museums about the possibility of them bidding for the map, but they cited lack of funds, so the justice approached him, Velarde said. Their deal was that the businessman would pay the winning bid—around P5 million they had reckoned, from the stated starting bid of about P1.5 million—but that he would resell it at cost to the National Museum once that agency had the budget for it.

But with the hammer price settling at P12 million, Velarde knew there was no way he could get reimbursed for the amount. He would have to treat the map as a donation, a complete turnabout for what was once a war booty that the British carted off after their occupation of Manila from 1762 to 1764.

In what became known as the First Rape of Manila, the British looted the capital of valuable documents, including the copper plates of the Murillo Velarde map, which was why there were very few copies of it, Carpio said in the AIJC forum on Asia’s maritime dispute.

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