Upon arriving at the Mactan Airport, my friend, Michelle and I went to the taxi bay to get a ride to our first destination. The airport is located on a separate small island of Mactan and is connected to the main island of Cebu through its bridges. Our cab driver was nice enough to drive as fast as he could while intercepting the traffic and by the time we reached the Mactan Shrine, it was barely opened. Even the souvenir booths were still closed but there were already individual vendors selling on the premises. The Mactan Shrine Park is located in Punta Egaño, Mactan Island, Cebu.
It was free to go in mainly because its just a park; however, for me, its not just only a park but one that is filled with history. The vendor who kept following us and trying to sell his crafts, decided to be our photographer and we had no problem with that. He also became our tour guide even though we didn’t need one.
Are you curious about what the big deal is regarding the Mactan Shrine? Well, it was where the battle between the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan and the native leader, Lapu-Lapu occurred. This event marked the beginning of the relationship between Spain and the Philippines. Here is a brief history of what occurred here:
“THE BATTLE OF MACTAN on April 27, 1521 marked the first organized resistance of the Filipinos against foreign invaders. Raha Lapu-Lapu, a chieftain of Mactan Island, defeated Spanish sailors under Portuguese sea captain and explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
After Magellan landed on the island of Homonhon on March 16, 1521, he parleyed with Rajah Calambu of Limasawa, who guided him to Cebu on April 7. Through Magellan’s interpreter, a Malay servant by the name of Enrique, Rajah Humabon of Cebu became an ally. Impressed by Magellan’s artillery (consisting of guns, swords, body armor, 12 cannons, and 50 cross-bows), Rajah Humabon and Datu Zula suggested to Magellan that they go to the nearby island of Mactan and punish Lapu-Lapu.
During his stay in Cebu, Magellan found out that some of the local inhabitants had refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of the King of Spain, and as a warning to the villagers, he burnt a few villages. However, in spite of this warning, Lapu-Lapu opposed the control of Spain over the islands. Magellan launched a naval war against Lapu-Lapu with an armada of three boats carrying Spanish soldiers and 20 boats carrying Cebuanos. In this battle, which took place on 27 April 1521, Lapu-Lapu fought valiantly with his men, armed with wooden shields, bows and arrows, and lances.
According to the accounts of Antonio Pigaffeta, Magellan’s voyage chronicler, the Portuguese sea captain deployed 48 armored men, less than half his crew, with swords, axes, shields, cross-bows and guns. Filipino historians note that because of the rocky outcroppings and coral near the beach, he could not land on Mactan. Forced to anchor far from shore, Magellan could not bring his ship’s firepower to bear on Lapu-Lapu’s warriors.
As the crew were retreating, Pigaffeta records that Magellan was surrounded by warriors. His crew had to wade through the surf to make landing, Pigaffeta narrates. Eight crewmen were killed. Pigafetta, the supernumerary on the voyage who later returned to Seville, Spain, records Lapu-Lapu had at least 1,500 native warriors in the battle.—Source: wikipedia.org
Lapu-Lapu is the first Filipino to resist foreign invaders. The Battle of Mactan, even if it was situated in the early years of Spanish invasion marks the start of an organized Filipino resistance against foreign aggression. The defeat and death of Magellan is a humiliation in the part of Spain. It only shows that even if the warriors of Lapu-lapu were outnumbered their bravery and patriotism ousted the Spanish troops. Yet, the national consciousness of the Filipinos during that time is still futile compared to the uprisings centuries later that brought the Philippine Revolution to its peak.”
The first sight you will see once you enter the park is the Magellan Monument/Shrine. Its recognizable because of its obelisk top,. You will notice that the marble monument is very “ancient” but still preserved even though it is more than a 100 years old. It was also believed that the tower was built in the exact site where Magellan was killed.
“The Magellan Monument was built in 1866 by the Spanish colonial rulers of the Philippines. On one side Magellan’s name is written in the original Portuguese language. On a second side is a dedication to “Spanish glory”. On a third side is the name of the Spanish governor of the Philippines of the time (Don Miguel Creuz) and on the fourth side is the name of the Spanish monarch of the time (Queen Ysabel II).
Although Magellan is now regarded by many Filipino historians as the “enemy” who was killed by the national hero, Lapu Lapu, Magellan is still remembered as the person who brought Christianity to the Philippines (commemorated by Magellan’s Cross Memorial in Cebu City) and as the commander of the fleet which achieved the first ever circumnavigation of the earth.”
After the monument you would come across the open-fronted shelter, and because it was still early there are a couple of cleaners sweeping around the park. We also saw the panoramic painting of the “Battle of Mactan” on the wall. On the middle of the shelter is a large marble rock and engraved in front is a historical marker dedicated to Lapu-Lapu. A brief text dedicated to a Philippine hero.
Here on 27 April 1521, LapuLapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader Ferdinand Magellan. Thus LapuLapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.“
On the other side is another plaque dedicated to the Death of Magellan.
“Ferdinand Magellan’s Death
On this spot Ferdinand Magellan died on April 27, 1521 wounded in an encounter with the soldiers of Lapu Lapu, Chief of Mactan Islands. One of the Magellan’s ships, The Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, sailed from Cebu on May 1, 1521 and anchored ay San Lucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522 thus completing the first circumnavigation of the earth.“
After visiting that site, we walked towards the shore where we were greeted by the giant monument of Lapu-Lapu. The bronze statue is 20 meters high and is wearing his native costume with a sword on his right hand and a shield on his left hand. Here is a brief history of Lapu-Lapu, according to Mandirigma.org:
“Chief Lapu-Lapu’s (1491-1542) other name is Kolipulako. The hero of Mactan and conqueror of Magellan, is described as stern, proud, intelligent, unyielding. He waged continuous war against the powerful ruler of Cebu, then a very much greater kingdom than his little island of Maktang. Of him, President Gullas of the University of the Visayas writes:
Lapu-Lapu is a good example of determination and willingness to work well. He learned how to ride on a horseback and on carabao proficiently at the age of six years; knew how to read and write at seven; boxed well at nine; became a champion swimmer, boxer and wrestler at eighteen; beat the Bornean marauders and pirates twice at twenty’. In the lives of men who have almost become legendary one finds it difficult to separate fact from fiction. This must be true in the case of the material quoted above.
History has it that Mactan Island although small was a thriving community when the great Magellan was in Cebu. The brave Spanish navigator and soldier, upon learning that some inhabitants on this tiny island across Cebu refused to recognize the King of Spain, burned one of the villages. Lapu-Lapu was one of he native leaders who refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of Spain over the Islands.”
After taking some photo-ops with our tour guide/photographer, we went to the back of the park which is adjacent to the Magellan Bay. The water was indeed shallow and mangroves were scattered around the area. During the battle, the bay’s shallow water led to the downfall of Magellan because he was not able to bring the ships and guns close to the shore against Lapu-Lapu and his men. Now, it seemed the water is very low with the brown sands covering mostly the bay with the recreated boats sticking up the water which is mainly used during the reenactment of the battle every 27th of April in commemoration to the victory of Lapu-Lapu against Spain.
Afterwards, we walked around the open souvenir booths and looked at the native handcrafted memorabilia. Since we had a lot of places we still need to go to, we only looked around briefly and then gave our tour guide/photographer $2 before heading back to the cab. Next, we head to the mainland of Cebu to Magellan’s Cross, the site where Christianity in the Philippines began.
Links for the following sites are the following and also the wikipedia site: