Statue of Lapu-Lapu on Mactan Island

The official countdown to the 500 days leading to the 500th year anniversary of the victory of local chieftain Lapu-Lapu over the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan will start this December.

“On December 14, we will start the countdown until April 27, 2021, the day that Lapu-Lapu became victorious in defending Mactan Island against the forces of Magellan,” Ed Mendez, Lapu-Lapu City tourism officer, confirmed the news to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Mendes said Lapu-Lapu City will be one of the three “focal point” cities in the celebration which includes Manila and Davao.

“As far as Lapu-Lapu is concerned, our preparation for the celebration is centered on the ‘liberty shrine’ (Lapu-Lapu shrine) in Barangay Mactan,” Mendez said.

Assistant secretary Ramon Cualoping III of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) has identified Mactan Island as one of the three key places of the celebration on April 27, 2021.

He added that 18 other sites are being considered to host the simultaneous launch of the quincentennial celebration.

The PCOO is working closely with the NQC in coming up with a communications strategy for the celebration.

Pope Francis and King Felipe VI of Spain will be invited to grace the commemoration of Magellan’s arrival in the country.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines considers the celebration as a significant part of its history, as the Christianity was introduced in Asia in the 65-sq. km. island city by Magellan and his men.  The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine earlier announced their plans to invite the Pope for its own celebration of the 500 years of the Christianization of the country in 2021.

Wanting to prove the Earth is round, Magellan led a Spanish expedition to circumnavigate the world. He and his men landed in the territory in March 1521.  However,  his forces met fierce resistance from Lapu-Lapu and his men in what is now known as the Battle of Mactan on April 27. Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu’s men in the skirmish. Only one of Magellan’s five-ship-fleet, Victoria, completed the circumnavigation when it docked on Seville, Spain in September 6, 1522. (Rommel F. Lopez)