On This Day 19 May

By TheBoldAge. Published 2020-05-19
Manila established as the capital of East Indies in 1571

1571 - Manila, Philippines, established by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

In this age of lockdown and no travelling we've chosen an event that happened back in 1571 over in what is now known as the Philippines (named after Philip II of Spain but previously known as Maharlika).

Migel Lopez de Legazpi was born in Zumarraga in the Basque Province of Spain in 1502 and is best known as the navigator and governor who established Manila as the capital of the Philippines which was at the time part of the East Indies.

In 1564 he sailed from Barra de Navidad (now Jalisco state in Mexico) with 5 ships, 500 soldiers and 6 Augustinian missionaries.


On February 13, 1565, they anchored off Cebu but had strong resistance from the locals so did not go ashore. On 22 February they reached Samar and eventually on to Bohol where they made a blood compact (ancient ritual to validate an agreement) returning to Cebu where they, with their new cohorts, overpowered the locals.

In 1570 they left the south to explore the Luzon area and on May 8 they arrived in Manila Bay. He eventually formed a peace pact with the native councils and local rulers of Manila and a settlement was formally established in 1571. It was at this point that he also proclaimed the town as the island's capital and the seat of the Spanish government in the East Indies.

Legazpi only governed the Philippines for a year before dying from a stroke in Manila on August 20, 1572. His resting place is San Agustin Church which you can see below.


The Philippines remained a Spanish colony until 1898 (a brief invasion by Britain from 1762 to 1764) at which point it was under American rule from 1898 to 1946.

In 2015 the ONS (UK) estimated that approximately 132,000 Filipinos are living in the UK with the majority working in the NHS and other private healthcare settings. Have a look at the Filipino Department of Tourism promotional video and be transported to the Philippines during this time of lockdown and no travel.

Other events on this day

  • 1182 - The high altar of Notre Dame de Paris was consecrated
  • 1571 - Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the city of Manila in the Philippines
  • 1585 - English shipping in Spanish ports was confiscated serving as a declaration of war
  • 1643 - the French army defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Rocroi
  • 1743 - the Celsius thermometer was invented by Jean-Pierre Christin
  • 1780 - New England's Dark Day</li>
  • 1802 - Napoleon created the Legion of Honour
  • 1919 - Mustafa Kemal Ataturk set off the Turkish War of Independence
  • 1924 - Malcom X was born</li>
  • 1962 - Marilyn Monroe performed her rendition of Happy Birthday to JFK
  • 1971 - Mars 2 launched by the Soviet Union
  • 1977 - Richard Nixon respond to an interview question by saying "Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."
  • 1991 - Croatians vote for independence in a referendum
  • 2015 - Refugio oil spill deposited 3,400 barrels of crude oil in California
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