This will be brief.
It’s indeed sad that hundreds of years ago today,Â Fernando Magallanes, aka Ferdinand MagellanÂ (hailed so inaccurately by careless historians as the first man to circumnavigate the globe), was killed by a mere “fish” now considered as aÂ Filipino bayani (hero).
Lapu-lapu, as all Pinoys are aware of, isÂ the name ofÂ aÂ tasty fish, a local variety of the red grouper. The MactÃ¡n chieftain’s real name was Cali Pulaco (some say it’s Kaliph Pulaka). Cali was a local title that is, as far as we know,Â no longer in use. It’s a royal titleÂ like that of a datu or a rajÃ¡h, but of a much lower rank.
Naming a high-ranking chief with the name of an edibleÂ animal, especially of aÂ fish dishÂ –then as now– isÂ disrespectful. The reason whyÂ the MactÃ¡n “hero” isÂ now known by the name of a fishÂ was a mistranslation by some careless historians (Blair and Robertson?).
AndÂ Fish KingÂ wasn’t the real chieftain of MactÃ¡n. The island was actually under the jurisdiction of CebÃº’s RajÃ¡h Humabon. Pulaco was just a subrogate (and belligerent)Â ruler of MactÃ¡n, together with Datu Zula. Since by that time Humabon was already baptized into the Christian faith, Magallanes thought it best to support an ally of Spain. But that doesn’t mean that Magallanes wasn’t eager to show-offÂ European superiority of arms. He did the unthinkable, sailing straight to enemy grounds without the usual reconnoitering done my military experts. He thought that his cannons and European firepower (which were, of course, modern at that time) will overcome mere bolos and spears and arrows.
He was mistaken:Â the Portuguese and his malnourished menÂ (they encountered unimaginable hunger during their voyage from Spain to the Philippines)Â was met with not a hundred men –Â he was met with more than a thousandÂ island warriors. And the rest, you already know.
What is not known –or what is not emphasized– is what in the world were those MactÃ¡n warriors thinking of while they were battling the white men. What should be taught in local schools is thatÂ Mr. Big FishÂ and his school of spear-wielding island fellasÂ have never heard of Europe, nor of Spain and the Spaniards. And most important of all, educators should teach THE TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH that Lapu-lapu never thought of “defending the Philippines from foreign invaders.” For all we know, those islanders thought that they were defending themselves from Chinese pirates who were known to have marauded some local tribes and brought with them prisoners whom they have sold in the thriving slave market.
So why teach that Lapu-lapu was theÂ ”first Filipino” to defend the Philippines from colonization? There was no Philippines during that time. The concept of a country wasn’t extant back then. What was in existence were hundreds of warring tribal kingdoms, each thinking that they were –and should be– independent from the other. In short, they were not united (the Philippines is on the verge of reverting back to this kind of setup once federalists gain the upper hand in the government).
Lapu-lapu was defending the island of MactÃ¡n, not the “whole” Philippines. Actually, he was defending an island which wasn’t really his in the first place; he was in bad terms with Humabon and Zula.
Going back to Magellan, we should be made aware that prior to the 1898Â American invasion of the Philippines, the Filipinos considered Magallanes, not the Grouper King,Â to be the hero of MactÃ¡n! Lapu-lapu was even derided in a poem (writtenÂ way back inÂ 1614 in honor of Magallanes)Â by a FilipinoÂ bard by theÂ name ofÂ Carlos Calao. It was only during the American occupation that Lapu-lapu (like AndrÃ©sÂ Bonifacio)Â was invented as a hero.
Now, Filipinos in Metro Manila adore a huge eye sore with a bolo shamelesslyÂ standing in Rizal Park (defile it defile itÂ DEFILE IT!!!). It was a very INNOCENT gift from the Korean Freedom League, for they know not about Lapu-lapu.
In the US,Â Americans celebrate annually the date Christopher Columbus discovered their country.Â InÂ the Philippines, Magellan’s discovery of the countryÂ is a disgusting chapter in Filipino history.
By the way, the photo you see on this blog is aÂ monument in honor ofÂ Magallanes. It is found in miles-away Chile. Filipinos, think about it.
That’s all for now.
Was this brief, or what?
Well, Lapu-lapu’s wearing a funny lookin’ “brief” at the Luneta… Go checkÂ the fishÂ out, and enjoyÂ Dick Gordon’sÂ folly!