The quincentennial or the 500th year of the arrival of Portuguese explorer Magellan in the country that falls in 2021 will still be marked, contrary to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement, but with a slight twist, which is that it will celebrate the victory of Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu against foreign invaders.
Lapu-Lapu was the datu who led natives in repelling the Europeans and in the process killing Magellan who, despite his death, was credited for leading the first circumnavigation of the world.
The country will still celebrate the global fete but with a “Filipino-centric theme focusing on the heroism of Lapu-Lapu.”
“The Philippines will be part of the quincentennial commemorations of the circumnavigation of the world, but the most important point here is the Philippines will celebrate its victory and the humanity of our Filipino heroes,” Karl Louie Fajardo, Presidential Communications Operations Office Brand Integration chief of staff, said.
“When the foreigners landed on our soil, we were magnanimous. We gave them food and medicine and at, the same time, we fought hard when they oppressed us,” Fajardo added.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously rejected any participation of the Philippines in the worldwide event, saying there was no reason to be festive about the country’s conquest.
“I was asked (to hold) a commemoration for the 500 years since they arrived here. I answered, ‘Why would I celebrate the arrival of the Spanish here? Why would I?’” the President said during an address in Naga City, Cebu.
P17M for festivity
The Portuguese explorer was killed by islanders in the Philippines two years into the journey, leaving Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano to complete the three-year trip. But it is Magellan’s name that is forever associated with the voyage.
Mr. Duterte claimed that the one who “cut off” Magellan’s head, the legendary Mactan warlord Lapu-Lapu and his men, were his relatives.
“It’s a good thing that my cousins got mad at them and cut off Magellan’s head. That made me happy,” he said.
“It’s all about religion,” the President said about the Magellan voyage. “When Magellan arrived there, he brought with him cannons and a cross. So, we became Christians. We didn’t have a religion back then,” he averred.
With the tweaking of the objective in the revelry, Mr. Duterte approved the allocation of P17 million for preparations alone.
During a briefing for the capping of the 500th anniversary of the victory at Mactan in April 2021, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairman Rene Escalante said the local version of the historic event will also seek to correct the belief that Magellan discovered the Philippines, and will underscore that prior to his arrival “the Philippines has its own civilization.”
“There’s this song that said Magellan discovered the Philippines. We’ll try to revise that because it connoted that before the coming of the Magellan expedition nobody knew our country,” Escalante said.
Prior to 1521 when Magellan landed in Cebu, the country had thriving economic and diplomatic relations with its neighbors, such as Indonesia, China and other states.
“Our neighbors are already familiar with us. So that statement that Magellan discovered the Philippines is a very Eurocentric statement — from our point of view, it’s not. This is something that we are going to communicate,” he added.
Spain, Portugal lead event
In 2021, three major events will be held for the quincentennial, including the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the world, an international event led actively by Spain and Portugal
Escalante clarified that several countries will be holding their own celebrations with a different focus, like Indonesia, which will highlight the spice trade.
“In the case of the Philippines, we are going to focus on the victory of Lapu-Lapu in the Battle of Mactan,” he said, adding the city of Lapu-Lapu also wanted to sponsor a reenactment of the Battle of Mactan in 2021.
“This is the activity that the President himself wants us to focus on because for us, this is a pride for many of us Filipinos,” he added.