Literary

SAIL FURTHER SOUTH

A voyage tale
Makes sense to know.
To know our past,
A noble act.

In ancient times
Sung’s men sail south.
A scorching sun
Of wondrous shine.

A starry night
Leans crescent moon.
A seamen’s song
Lifts up the soul.

A fisher’s wish,
School of fish.
To aim no matter what,
A spot away homeland.

One darkest night,
October moon in hide.
Sung’s fishermen
Delighted by lamplight.

Crystal-like waves
Flashing their face
Fancy, irredescent,
Navigable calm sea.

Sung’s fishermen
resume their work.
Lures, nets and lines
deep down ’til dawn.

School of fish abound.
Sung’s seamen wide awake.
A morning breeze,
Can’t stop their spree.

Sleek, crafty brig
Now full of catch.
At last Sung’s seamen’s
Time to take a nap.

Then sudden gusty winds
Jolted big Sampan’s hull.
Sung’s seamen’s sleep,
Unbearable haste.

A Captain’s shout
Sail further south!
As westwind swept
Sailboat went wild.

A storm threat,
A voyage curse.
As thunder roars,
A darkened northern sky.

Lightning scared
Sung’s men at sea.
As more rains fall
Stronger winds unfurl.

Sung’s Captain shouts
Sail further south!
A seaman’s cry
Here comes the storm’s eye!

Sung’s captain shouts
Sail further south!
After noon rains
Gain more strength.

Sung’s captain shouts
Sail further south!
Now all seamen
In unison cry.

“We can’t escape
That storm’s eye!
This boat’s heavy and slow
Unsure how far can go.”

A Captain’s shout
Unload some catch!
As bigger waves
A frightened crew.

A captain’s roar
Unload some more.
Another shout
Sail further south!

As evening falls
A sudden blow.
A Captain’s cry
Unload all catch!

A panicked crew
Sung’s captain too.
Another wave
Another blow.

From north to east
Stronger winds.
Sung’s captain moans
Lower the mast!

Of bigger waves,
stronger winds.
A wasted crew
Drifted to land.

Despite a grimmy night
A morning jovial mood.
Sung’s fifteen crew
Are in good hands.

A rocky hill
Sung’s captain stood.
A battered brig
Lay west of beach.

On native huts
Ship’s crew asleep.
Brown-skinned hosts
Amazed by visitors.

A breakfast treat
Chopstick no need.
A bowl of turtle soup
Banana and papaya fruits.

A friendship forged
Of hosts and visitors.
Sung’s captain gifts
Silk clothes and silver wares.

Sung’s sampan crew
Savor a newfound home.
A splendored land
Of beauteous souls.

Sung’s captain dares
Time to explore
This island’s heart
Full of desire.

Eighteen days long
On island of Luzon.
Sung’s fishermen
Ready for home.

At last a clear sky
Horizon’s greet divine
A brimming restored ship
Settles back to life.

From beach of sandy white
Throng of Maharlikans
Deafening roars,
And waving hands.

Joy filled and native gifts
Sung’s brig surges away
A captain’s shout
Now sail up north!

— — Junrod Naz, October 21, 2021

Above is a fictional narrative of how Chinese fishermen might have accidentally discovered the richness of the Philippine archipelago.’

Image of an ancient Chinese sampan boat by Encyclopedia Britannica.

Contact with Chinese traders was recorded in 982. But how?

Thus I would assume that Chinese fishermen reached land, probably an island off Luzon after they encountered a storm in the open seas and eventually rescued by island natives who showered them with foods as new friendship was forged between two peoples.

The Chinese promised to come back after discovering that they can exploit such richness to their advantage.

Back in China, probably, Hong Kong or Taiwan or Peking, the news of a fishing boat crew that went missing for weeks or maybe months became a big concern even by the ruling monarch.

By this time, the Sung Dynasty was in power.

When finally the missing seamen returned home, they became instant town heroes as they narrated their experiences during their journey at sea and the ill-fated sailboat as well as the beauty and richness and the hospitality of the natives.

These news might have reached the monarchy and was eager to investigate more about the incident.

Elated by the good news, an expedition might have been commissioned. Years later, trading of goods between the two peoples became regular as the Chinese explored other islands until they reached Manila and other Visayan lands.

That is why history books pointed out that Chinese shipping trade already flourished before the European explorers came in March 1521.

Encyclopedia Britannica notes that during the Manila-Acapulco (galeon trade) “The exchange of Chinese silks for Mexican silver not only kept in Manila those Spanish who were seeking quick profit, but it also attracted a large Chinese community. The Chinese, despite being the victims of periodic massacres at the hands of suspicious Spanish, persisted and soon established a dominance of commerce that survived through the centuries.”