How The Owner Of The Harry Potter Castle Helped Philippines vs China On Island Dispute
Jun 08, 2015 08:21 AM EDT /By Joanna Garado
An aristocrat who owns the “Harry Potter” castle had a map which could become the Philippines’ strongest evidence against China’s recent claims on the Scarborough Shoal.
A 300-year-old map of the Philippines, until recently, was in the possession of Ralph George Algernon Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, who owns the Alnwick Castle a.k.a the “Harry Potter” castle.
The rare map was called “Carta Hydrographia y chorogphica de las Yslas Filipinas” and was published by a Jesuit priest named Pedro Murillo Velarde in Manila in 1734, with only 50 copies to have ever existed in the whole world. It reportedly shows the disputed Scarborough Shoal within the Philippines’ area of sovereignty.
Not one copy of the map had resurfaced, until recently, when the British Duke put it up for auction at Sotheby’s in London to help his neighbors pay for about £12 million worth of property damage repairs following a devastating flood in the Northumberland County in April 2012.
When it was put up for auction in November 2014, Filipino businessman named Mel Velarde wasted no time and bid for the piece of paper that might be his country’s strongest evidence against China in the dispute on the Scarborough Shoal.
The bidding for the map started at £30,000.
“30,000 pounds…40,000 pounds…50,000 pounds…55, 56… It seemed like so many were bidding,” Velarde told ABS CBN News, adding that the bidding was “furious.”
Initially, Velarde only wanted to bid as high as £80,000, knowing that the Philippines’ National Museum is only allowed to buy items for as high as P5 million (about $125,000) but then he thought of the Chinese claiming his country’s land and ended up winning the bid for £170,500 ($260,000).
“It became a personal crusade,” Velarde said who, later on, donated the map to the Philippines’ National Museum.
Asked about the involvement of the Harry Potter castle owner in what might be the solution to the island dispute against China, Velarde likened the experience to a movie.
“In a true-to-life movie, there’s a part for everybody. There’s a bully in the neighborhood,” He said. “Then this map is owned by a Duke in a Harry Potter castle. It’s like you wanting to play your part in the movie.”
The map measures 1,120 mm x 1,200 mm and described by Sotheby’s as “the first scientific map of the Philippines.”