President Duterte hails Lapulapu at 501st Victory of Mactan celeb

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the celebration of the “Adlaw ni Lapulapu: 501st Anniversary of the Victory at Mactan” at the Liberty Shrine in Barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City on Wednesday afternoon, April 27, 2022, marking the earliest recorded indigenous Filipino resistance to foreign intervention in 1521.

The occasion 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.

“It is only fitting that he will be immortalized with a new monument and museum in the Lapulapu shrine. It is my hope that its construction will proceed at the soonest possible time,” Duterte said in his speech.

Duterte recalled that during his 2016 election campaign he promised to elevate Lapulapu’s standing as a hero.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan expressed gratitude to Duterte for recognizing the importance of Lapulapu not only in the history of Mactan but also of the whole country.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11040 recognizing April 27 of every year as a special non-working holiday in Lapu-Lapu City and special working holiday in the rest of the country.

To give him due importance, Lapulapu was also featured in a P5,000 bill by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last year.

“So that’s why I signed it,” Duterte said. “Para nako siya ang unang Pilipino nga nikasa sa banyaga (For me, he was the first Filipino to defeat a foreign invader),” Duterte said.

“This effort to memorialize Lapulapu leads us to appreciate the nation’s heroes of today. Even in the smallest ways we can show our love to our country,” Duterte added.

The event was held at the Liberty Shrine in Barangay Mactan on the same spot believed to have been the site of the battle in which Datu Lapulapu and his warriors triumphed over the Spanish invaders led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

Duterte witnessed the highlight of the event, the reenactment of the Battle of Mactan and a cultural show organized by the Lapu-Lapu City Government.

The commemorative program was led by the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) through the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in coordination with the City Government of Lapu-Lapu, and other national agencies.

Former Lapu-Lapu City Tourism Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission chairperson Cindi King-Chan was the person in charge of the successful staging of the Kadaugan sa Mactan event.

Also in attendance were NHCP Chairman and the Executive Director of the NQC Dr. Rene Escalante, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

In a statement, Chan likened Datu Lapulapu’s fight against Spanish invaders 501 years ago to his leading of the present-day Oponganons in their fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In this battle, the mayor twice contracted Covid-19 but prevailed. He soon got vaccinated and had booster shots.

The mayor urged all Oponganons to get vaccinated against Covid-19, saying the City had vaccinated more than 80 percent of its qualified population.

During the Kadaugan celebration of 2020, Chan’s first hosting of the event, the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, prompting the closure of companies and factories, lockdowns of communities, the suspension of public transport, and bringing the tourism industry and the economy to a standstill.

The following year, 2021, the opening of the Quincentennial Commemoration saw the number of national officials and guests limited with President Duterte sending a virtual speech.

This year, with Lapu-Lapu City now at the most relaxed Alert Level 1 status due to the success of its vaccination program, the tourism industry, the city’s “bread and butter” industry, has reopened to foreign and local visitors, and Oponganons now claim their Victory at Opon over Covid-19 just as Lapulapu’s forces did their Victory at Mactan over Magellan five centuries ago. (EHP, PR)

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