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"The story of Lapu-Lapu, depicted with bulging biceps rushing toward Magellan to kill him with a swift stroke of his weapon," is the famous tale we all know to be true. But a renowed Bicolano historian and author said otherwise, saying that Lapu-Lapu's story "is a folklore or 'fakelore' that had been repeated for five centuries."
Dr. Danilo Madrid Gerona is a member of Sevilla 2019-2022 that is leading and coordinating the global celebration of the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world, said that declaring Lapu-Lapu as a national hero would be hasty. As a pre- and Spanish colonial period account specialist, he is the only non-Spanish member of the multisectoral committee based in Seville, Spain.
Their committee published a book entitled as, "Ferdinad Magellan, the Armada de Maluco and the European Discovery of the Philippines," using their sources from Seville's archives. A few history book describe Lapu-Lapu as the first Filipino native who fought Spanish colonizers, but Gerona said that it was based on the wrong belief.
He stated that Lapu-Lapu's information of his actual participation in the Battle of Mactan in 1521 is lacking. Gerona even said that it wasn't Lapu-Lapu who killed Magellan, but could be one of the 1,500 warriors the chieftain sent to fight the foreign troops in the famously so called Battle of Mactan.
The historian gathered information from various sources of original Spanish and Portuguese manuscripts and accounts of Portuguese chronicler Gaspar Correa, who came four years after Magellan, and discovered that Lapu-Lapu was mentioned to a Venetian who wasn't even the official chronicler of Magellan's Voyage and showed that the accounts Correa obtained told that the battle was not a "one-shot" deal but was much more than that.
Testimonies of 18 to 27 members of the battle's survivors in the Spanish forces describe Lapu-Lapu as an old man of 60 or 70 years and older. And as an elderly, he would be exempted from work and taxes imposed by Spain in its colonies. Accounts also revealed that Lapu-Lapu was in fact a person who acknowledged the authority of the Spanish crown, through Magellan, and actually accepted to pay tribute to the colonizers.
But he disagreed when Magellan demanded Lapu-Lapu to kiss the hand of the anointed supreme chieftain, Rajah Humabon as a European's way of recognizing authority. So, Magellan decided to attack their village for two times as they were burning houses, they then launched a full on battle to subdue Lapu-Lapu and those beside him.
It was a mistake for Magellan when he underestimated the native warriors' capacity with using only simple weaponry and refused Humabon's offer to send out hundreds of native warriors to act as reinforcement to Spanish forces, who had better weapons and body armors. Gerona said that Magellan was the first to be disabled when a poisoned arrow hit his leg.
Then the Spanish expedition leader was defeated and killed with a bamboo lance to the chest. Though 18 members of the Spanish forces survived and returned to Spain, 9 were sold as slaves to Chinese merchants. Which were supposedly demanded by Lapu-Lapu, the battle's victor, to be killed but Humabon refused.
Gerona further explained that when Magellan came to our nation, Cebu was already a thriving port with vibrant communities headed by several chieftains and was actively involved in commerce. Lapu-Lapu was the leader among the four chieftains that was ruling Mactan. There were even accounts that Lapu-Lapu would actually lure trading ships to his territory and demand tributes.
Gerona also found out that Lapu-Lapu was, as a matter of fact, the brother f Humabon's principal wife but, for some reason, the two's relationship were not friendly.