President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said the strong leadership of Datu Lapu-Lapu in driving away foreign invaders 501 years ago on Mactan Island has earned him the well-deserved honor and distinction of being hailed as the Philippines’ first hero.
The President visited the historical island city to lead the celebrations at the Liberty Shrine in Barangay Mactan here in commemoration of the “Adlaw ni Lapulapu” (Day of Lapu-Lapu) and the 501st Anniversary of the “Victory of Mactan”, the earliest recorded indigenous Filipino resistance to foreign intervention on April 27, 1521.
The ceremony also served to close the Mactan part of the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines, the consolidated national and local program for the remembrance of the historic events of 1521 and the Philippine part in the first circumnavigation of the world.
Calling him his “brother”, Duterte said the chieftain of Mactan showed his bravery to face the overwhelming odds with the Spanish conquerors.
“It is only fitting that he will be immortalized with a new monument and a museum at the Lapu-Lapu shrine. It is my hope that its construction will proceed at the soonest possible time. May this effort to memorialize Lapu-Lapu lead us to appreciate the nation’s heroes of today,” the President said in his speech.
He said that “although the Philippines was under foreign occupation for more than three centuries… we are fortunate enough to preserve the roots of our cultures and in the history figured by Lapu-Lapu as documented by our very colonizer”.
“Even in the smallest ways we can show our love to our country and of our fellow Filipinos,” Duterte said as he mentioned the link between the Cebuano and the Tausug dialect in Mindanao as well as the arrival of Islam as a religion which was brought by missionaries 80 years before the arrival of Christianity in Cebu.
“It’s not easy to be subjugated for 300 years. Together let us rebuild a greater Philippines that is worthy of the sacrifices of our heroes and the legacy that they left behind,” he added.
The commemorative program was led by the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) through the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and in coordination with the city government of Lapu-Lapu, and other national agencies.
In a statement released by the Philippine Information Agency-Central Visayas (PIA-7), Duterte was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante, and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan.
Accordingly, the commemorative rites will be followed by the annual “Kadaugan sa Maktan” (Victory of Mactan) reenactment of the 1521 epic battle between Lapu-Lapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, as well as a cultural show organized by the Lapu-Lapu City government.
The NQC is an ad-hoc office constituted by Duterte through Executive Order No. 55, series of 2018 to lead the country’s efforts for the commemoration of the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines.
The NHCP is the national government agency mandated to promote and preserve Philippine history through its museums and publications, and preserve the nation’s historical heritage. It also serves as the secretariat of the NQC. (PNA)