The Fraudulent Povedano Map of Negros

"Geographical map describing the voyage which he the illustrious encomendero Diegus Lope Povedano of Buglas Island and shores for his Majesty the King and Spain made on our land journey and sea voyage amongst them the year 1572." (Translation of the cartouche.)

This is a tracing of the Povedano map as it appeared in the November 21, 1913 edition of Renacimiento Filipino (Filipino Renaissance). The original parchment was supposedly discovered by Jose E. Marco who donated it to the Philippine Library and Museum in 1914. It was destroyed in the Second World War but a photographic copy survives in the Robertson Collection in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University, Durham, N.C., U.S.A. Click on the map for a larger image.

Origin of the Map

The map was said to have been discovered when the walls of the prison in Himamaylan, Negros were torn down in 1833. The map was rolled up inside a metal tube contained in a lead box hidden in one of the walls. An inventory of the contents of that box was written on the back of the map and dated March 23, 1833 but the Robertson photographs don't show it and it was note mentioned in Robertson's initial description. The inventory stated that, “All items were left with Don M.V. Morquecho" and it was indeed signed by Manuel Valdivieso y Morquecho and two witnesses. However, according to the archives in Madrid and Seville, Don M.V. Morquecho was still in Cadiz, Spain as late as 1847 petitioning Queen Isabella II. He was asking her not to send him to the Philippines at all. He did become governor of Negros but not until 1849.

Through a series of thefts the map ended up in 1898 in the hands of a former servant of Governor Valdivieso who supposedly sold it to José E. Marco sometime after November 18, 1913 ­ only three days before this tracing was published in Renacimiento Filipino.

Leagues Equal to Kilometres

The most glaring anomaly of the map is its scale labelled with the unknown measurement Leuea Linea.  According to this scale the Island of Negros is about 243 leueas from north to south. If the term leuea is simply a misspelling of the Spanish word legua or league, this measurement is far from the contemporary figures which estimated the length of Negros to be only 45 leagues. (A Spanish league in the 16th century was approximately 4.18 kilometres.) The figure of 243 leueas is suspiciously close to the actual modern length of 222 kilometres. Suspicious because there was no such measure as a kilometre in 1572. The kilometre was invented by the government of France in 1799. 

The illustration below shows a comparison of Povedano's scale to the modern kilometre and the Spanish league of the 16th century.

This mistaken use of the league measure is common to many of the José Marco hoaxes. The manuscripts attributed to José María Pavón mentioned that there was ancient fortress at Marayo (now Pontevedra) which was about twenty leagues to the north of Himamaylan. Those towns just happen to be 20 kilometres apart. And in a 1970 article in Philippine Studies 18 entitled The authenticity of the writings attributed to Father Jose Burgos, Fr. John Schumacher investigated other Marco frauds which also mentioned leagues that equalled kilometres.


The map shows three crosses at the approximate locations of the towns of Himamaylan, Pontevedra and Bacolod. Presumably these crosses represent churches but as of 1572 the were no churches on the island of Negros. In fact there were only ten priests in the entire Philippines at that time and none of them were on the island of Negros.

Kalantiaw's Fortress

Kalantiaw was said to have built a fort at Gagalangin, Negros according to the article Civilización Prehispana by Manuel Artigas, an associate of José E. Marco, in the July 1913 issue of Renacimiento Filipino. The Povedano map was published later that year in the November issue of that same journal. Three forts are displayed on the map but Gagalangin is not shown. Thus when the Pavón manuscripts were donated to the Philippine Library in the following year, the location of Kalantiaw's fortress was changed to Calingling in order to match the map.

Juan Camunhing Rigay

Juan Camunhing Rigay is the name written at the bottom left of the 1572 map. It is similar to two informants that were mentioned by José Pavón in 1838, Domingo Rigay and Canunhing. Both the map and the Pavón manuscripts were supposedly discovered by José Marco.

16th Century Parchment

The original map was drawn on leather parchment unlike all other documents of the Spanish period, which were written on paper. Also, it is unlikely that an image could survive on a parchment document that had been folded, rolled inside a tube, left in a limestone wall of a building in the tropics for possibly more than 250 years, kept in unknown conditions between 1833 and 1914 and then finally be successfully unrolled and traced.


Main information source:
Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History, Revised Edition, 1984
by William Henry Scott 
Weights and Measurements in California's Mission Period: Linear Measurements, Part 1 by Kenneth Pauley, updated March 10, 2001.

Paul Morrow, 2001
Latest update: 9 July, 2003