Dubious claim, blooper mar Lapulapu tributes
The memory of the warrior Lapulapu is being besieged by misinformation and ignorance 500 years after his victory against invaders.
Speaking in Lapu-Lapu City at a program marking the 500th anniversary of the historic clash between the natives led by Lapulapu and Spanish troops led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, Sen. Bong Go cited a theory that the warrior was not from Mactan Island but part of a Mindanao kingdom.
Cebuano historians bristled at Go’s claim, saying it was incorrect and ill-advised.
Also on Tuesday in Cavite, Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla extolled Magellan online as “one of the Philippines’ first heroes.” He later realized his gaffe and blamed it on an intern in his staff.
‘Mistakes of the past’
Speaking in Filipino, Go said it was equally important “to look back at our past” and “to correct the mistakes of the past so we can understand the present and face the future with confidence.”
He cited a theory of Abraham Idjirani, an official of the Sultanate of Sulu, who believed that Lapulapu was ordered to travel from Mindanao to check on foreigners who had arrived in the country.
“I and President Duterte are from Mindanao,” said Go, a longtime aide of Mr. Duterte. “We too are ‘bisaya.’ But based on a version of history, the former East Kingdom of Sulu, which guards the 7,107 islands of the Philippines, requested Lapulapu to be vigilant after foreigners were seen near Mactan.”
Go said the historic clash took place only because Lapulapu and Magellan met in Mactan.
But Cebuano historians protested Go’s account.
Archeologist Jose Eleazar Bersales said Go might have taken his account from Dr. Danilo Gerona’s book titled “Ferdinand Magellan, The Armada de Maluco and the European Discovery of the Philippines.”
“Most of what is known about Lapulapu in recent times was embedded in folk myths and legends, heavily loaded with nationalist discourses,” Bersales told the Inquirer.
“I warned that as the 500th anniversary of the historic Battle of Mactan approached, there will be idiotic claims about Lapulapu, about his being Muslim, and Bornean at that,” Bersales said.
The only existing primary source mentioning Lapulapu by name is the account of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magellan expedition in 1521.
Said Bersales: “Where did Lapulapu come from? What was his genealogy? Nobody actually knows. Pigafetta, who kept a log of the Magellan expedition, was not interested in genealogies of native chiefs.
“[With] this vacuum… came attempts at filling it up by inventing history, cloaking it as folklore handed down from one’s grandparents or, in the case of the story of the 10 Bornean datus, from an old trunk full of papers.”
Another historian, Paul Clarence Oaminal, described Go’s claim as “baseless.”
“If Lapulapu were Tausug and Islam his religion, he should have constructed a mosque in Mactan as mandated in the Quran,” Oaminal said.
He said that according to history books, Lapulapu was the son of Hari Mangal and Hara Bauga, who gave birth to him on Mactan Island.
Go said that “from Sulu, Lapulapu brought with him several Tausug warriors on board some boats.”
“They were met by Magellan’s soldiers, which led to the Battle of Mactan where [Magellan] was killed,” the senator said, adding:
“Part of the victory were those people from Mindanao who fought the invaders. That is why President Duterte wholeheartedly looks up to Lapulapu.”
Oaminal called on the Lapu-Lapu City government to commission the writing of a book by Cebuano historians. “After which there should be an ordinance [declaring] the book as the official account of Lapulapu’s life,” he said.
In his post in Filipino, Cavite Vice Governor Revilla said he was saluting “the bravery of one of the Philippines first heroes, Ferdinand Magellan, who gave up his life for our freedom 500 years ago.”
After receiving a bashing online, he said: “I apologize for the earlier confusing post on our celebration of Lapulapu’s victory in Mactan 500 years ago. An intern in our social media team posted the caption to our meme without first clearing it. Again, my sincerest apologies to our Cebuano kababayan and to all Filipinos.”
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