WHO IS ENRIQUE DE MALACCA?

The first person to circumnavigate the world is believed to be not the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan nor the Spaniard Sebastian del Cano but a voyager of Malay descent named Panglima Awang (Commander Awang), and better known to the world as Enrique of Malacca or Henry the Black.

Enrique became a slave of Magellan when the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511. He followed the latter back to Lisbon, and was enlisted in Magellan’s fleet set to voyage around the earth between 1519 and 1521. When Magellan died during the Battle of Mactan, Cebu, the Philippines in 1521, at the hand of Lapu Lapu, some believe that Enrique either settled down there or returned to Malacca or Indonesia, since his name was missing from the list of Magellan’s surviving crew returning to Spain.

References on Enrique from old texts

Although Enrique was certainly a native of the Malay Archipelago, the truths about his origin are still debated by historians of both naval and Southeast Asian histories.

Ferdinand Magellan stated In his own written will and testament, that his slave, Enrique was a native of Malacca. In Antonio Pigafetta’s record of The First Voyage Around the World (1519-1522), the chronicler mentioned that Enrique came from Sumatra.

Maximilianus Transylvanus, who published his interviews with the survivors of Magellan’s expedition in De Moluccis Insulis (1523), claimed that Enrique hailed from the Moluccas; both places are in modern-day Indonesia.

On a rather semi-fictional account, a Malaysian writer, Harun Aminurrasyid’s Panglima Awang (1958), acknowledged Enrique as a Malayan Malay rather than an Indonesian Malay, although he agreed that Enrique originally came from Sumatra. He thus picked a common Malay placeholder name of “Awang” (similar to “John Doe”) to imbue a Malay identity of Enrique.

In 1980, a Filipino historian and author, Carlos Quirino, wrote in Phillippines Free Press — The First Man Around the World Was a Fiipino. The article proposed that Enrique was a Filipino who either migrated from Cebu to Malacca or was sold as a slave in Malacca.

Unfortunately, despite all the theories and claims there is no concrete evidence or mention of Enrique in any past official and court chronicles of these three countries.

“AND BY THIS MY PRESENT WILL AND TESTAMENT, I DECLARE AND ORDAIN AS FREE AND QUIT OF EVERY OBLIGATION OF CAPTIVITY, SUBJECTION, AND SLAVERY, MY CAPTURED SLAVE ENRIQUE, MULATTO, NATIVE OF THE CITY OF MALACCA…”

– FERDINAND MAGELLAN

Enrique as the Spice Island Guide

JJ Rizal, an Indonesian historian, stated the role and importance of native like Enrique in guiding the the confusing routes and maps of South East Asia en route the Spice Islands. Most maps were made at that period was intentionally made to confuse, hide and the counterparts.

Enrique Became a Dato Laut Dalam

Datuk Shamsudin Kamari, Director of Malaysian Historical Society believes that after Magellan died in Mactan war and the massacre that took place in Cebu, Enrique was free went back to Malacca. Since Malacca was still under Portuguese at that period and he was a man on the lookout, he decided to join the Sumatran community who resided in Negeri Sembilan and disguised himself as Dato Laut Dalam.

Enrique Was a Native of Moluccas Island

Helmy Yahya, author of Enrique Maluku, wrote a book based on Maximillianus Transylvanus’s Victoria’s survivors interviews.

The Crown Prince of Demak

Bernardo Balinguat Montilla, a screenwriter for Enrique de Malacca production in Cebu explains the probability of Enrique as the Crown Prince of Trenggana from the Sultanate of Demak that leads to the respected and close relationship between Magellan and Enrique.