The Mactan Shrine or Lapu-Lapu Shrine is a 20 meters (66 ft.) bronze statue in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines, erected in honor of Lapu-Lapu, a native leader who defeated Spanish soldiers led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magelln in the 1521 Battle of Mactan.
Lapu-Lapu is regarded, retroactively, as the first Filipino hero. The government erected a statue in his honor in Mactan Island and renamed the town of Opon in Cebu to Lapu-Lapu City. A large statue of him, donated by South Korea, stands in the middle of Agrifina Circle in Rizal Park, Manila, replacing a fountain and roller skating rink. Lapu-Lapu appears on the official seal of the Philippine National Police. His face was used as the main design on the 1-centavo coin that was circulated in the Philippines from 1967 to 1974.
Now, the battle of Mactan is celebrated as a festival called Kadaugan sa Mactan (or the Victory in Mactan). A celebration reenacting the victory of Mactan people. This major attraction among local and foreign spectators is being organized by the local government of Mactan Island. The re-enaction of the event is the main event of this celebration which is played by famous local actors or other personalities.
Religion played an important part in the European continent, especially in the Christian religion. During the 1400s to 1500s, Spain built a strong empire to widen their territory across the globe by means of colonization. Spain had colonized many countries such as Brazil, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, and Guatemala. Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay. These are the first 15 countries where Spanish is still their official language. But to some other Spanish colonized countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad, Morocco and Belize, Spanish is no longer widely spoken and that includes our very own, the Philippines.
In order for us to fully understand why and how Spanish colonized, let’s go back first to where they were colonized too.
THE RECONQUISTA OF SPAIN
During the year 711, the Moors or the Muslims who were living in the land of Morocco and Algeria invaded the Iberian Peninsula or to what they called “Al- ANDALUS”. The Iberian Peninsula is located in the far southwest of Europe. Today the majority of the peninsula includes the countries of Spain and Portugal. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pyrenees Mountains.
The Reconquista began in 718 when King Pelayo of the Visigoths defeated the Muslim army in Alcama at the Battle of Covadonga. This was the first significant victory of the Christians over the Moors by then, lots of individuals had the courage to fight against the Moors.
Over the next several hundred years the Christians and the Moors would do battle. Charlemagne would halt the Moors advance at the borders of France, but taking back the peninsula would take over 700 years. There were many battles won and lost on both sides. Both sides also experienced internal struggles for power and civil war.
During the latter part of the Reconquista, it was considered a holy war similar to the Crusades. The Catholic Church wanted the Muslims removed from Europe. Several military orders of the church such as the Order of Santiago and the Knights Templar fought in the Reconquista.
After years of fighting, the nation of Spain was united when King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile were married in 1469. The land of Granada was still ruled by the Moors, however. Ferdinand and Isabella then turned their united forces on Grenada, taking it back in 1492 and ending the Reconquista. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were called the “Catholic Monarchs”. It was Ferdinand and Isabella who authorized the expedition of Christopher Columbus in 1492. After the Reconquista, Muslims and Jews who lived in Spain were forced to convert to Christianity or they were expelled from the country.
On this very moment, Catholic Monarchs decided to spread Christian faith by force and other means plus the glory and the obtaining of golds.
The coming of Spanish in the Philippines
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who was by then obsessed with spices and was looking for the best ones in the globe. During this year, barter system was used as a method of exchange. This system has been used for centuries and long before money was invented. People exchanged services and goods for other services and goods in return. And spices were in the demand.
This clever Magellan wanted to take an expedition to find this spice island he heard somewhere in Asia. But the Portugal Government didn’t agree with his plan. So instead, he flew to Spain and proposed his plan to the King. Fortunately, the king was intrigued by his proposal was willing to take the risk.
Magellan sailed across the Pacific Ocean together with 3 ships the king sent. One day, as they were looking for a westward route, they landed on a small Homonhon Island in the Philippines. He was the first European to set foot in the island.
Battle of Mactan
For some reason, Magellan fell in love with the island and wished to explore it more but they were natives living on it. To avoid problems, he talked with several chieftain or Datus of every tribe (Remember the Philippines was not united as it is now. Datus of each tribe ruled in every land they owned). Naïve as they were, all chieftain agreed but one did not. It was Lapu- Lapu, the other leader of Mactan (Mactan was reigned by Zula and Lapu-Lapu). As Magellan tries to pursue him, it was led to war after a repeated refusal from Lapu- Lapu. On April 27th of 1521, the battle ended on the shore of Mactan when Magellan was defeated.
Colonizing the Philippines
Some of the European soldiers survived and sailed back to Spain. They told the king what had happened and surprisingly, the king was even more intrigued so he again sent another 5 ship expeditions who were led by:
- Garcia Jofre Laoisa (1525)
- Sebastian Cabot (1526)
- Alvaro de Saavedra (1527)
- Ruy Lopez de Villalobos (1542)
- Miguel Lopez de Legaspi (1564)
Ruy Lopez de Villalobos is famous for naming several islands in the Philippines like the island he landed on was Mindanao, which he reached four months later – making him the first Spaniard to explore this particular island. He named it Mindanao “Caesarea Karoli after the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain.
Upon him reaching the island of Tandaya (today Leyte), He named it “Las Islas Filipinas” as an honor to the crown prince, Philip II of Spain. It was later then made as an archipelago’s name.
On February 13th of 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi’s expedition landed on Cebu Island. After a short struggle with the natives, he proceeded to Leyte, Camiguin, and Bohol. There he made a blood compact with Datu the chieftain Datu Sikatuna, as a sign of friendship.
Legaspi was successful in obtaining the spices and gold due to his friendship with the Datu.