Tony loves history and so do our sons. I don’t. But grace equips me to understand its significance in the context of Philippine independence from foreign rule. This post, then, tackles history—with hilarity.
European history books celebrate the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan (a Portugese explorer) as the first Spanish voyage—with 270 men on five ships—to circumnavigate the Earth.
Filipino history books, on the other hand, celebrate the victory of Lapu-Lapu, hailed as our first Filipino hero, in ending Magellan’s life and his expedition on its third year.
Background: Magellan reached our country in March 1521 and used both diplomacy and force to convert local leaders to Catholicism and submit to the authority of the Spanish king.
Rajah Humabon of Cebu and other local rulers formed an alliance with Magellan. To widen his territory, Magellan wanted to conquer the island of Mactan as well. But Lapu-Lapu, the island’s datu (head), refused to negotiate.
Magellan and his men joined forces with Humabon and attacked Mactan at dawn. Lapu-Lapu and his indigenous warriors met them on the beach. The fierce battle, which lasted within an hour, saw Magellan and most of his men killed. Only one ship and 18 survivors limped back to Seville.
That was on April 27, 1521, 500 years ago.
Every year, we commemorate this important day—The Battle of Mactan—when Filipinos resisted a foreign colonizer. In particular, we remember how Lapu-Lapu roused his band of warriors to trounce the Spanish threat to their independence.
Early this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) unveiled the commemorative banknote and medal of Lapu-Lapu’s heroism.
The 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan—organised by the National Quincentennial Committee—paid tribute to Lapu-Lapu’s unique bravery and leadership with a series of celebratory activities.
Lapu-Lapu left quite a legacy. The Declaration of Philippine Independence refers to him, and at the center of the island of Mactan today is a statue of this great combatant who fought for our autonomy.
Those are the historical facts.
Then came the speech of Harry Roque, spokesperson of our president. He declared: “President Duterte is my modern-day Lapu-Lapu.”
Friends and foe often hear Duterte openly profess his love for China—and therefore tip-toes around its president, Xi Jinping. “We are a province of China,” he said in one speech, and allows Chinese ships freely fish (loot?) and roam the West Philippine Sea (a part of our exclusive economic zone).
Without meaning to disrespect Lapu-Lapu, I clicked the laughing emoji, too.
Photo credits: Inquirer.net and Rappler