With Duterte, Lapu-Lapu, ‘Bisaya’ hero, rises, too
It took an emerging national leader from Mindanao to bring to the consciousness of the Filipino nation the unmatched feat of a “Bisaya” hero, the only hero to successfully repel a foreign invader from Philippine shores.
In a May 16, 2016, GMA News Online article, Trisha Macas reported that one of the “injustices” that presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants to correct during his administration is how Filipinos see the Bisaya hero Lapu-Lapu. Duterte told reporters in a press briefing that he will make Lapu-Lapu “a proper hero” for being the first to fight the Spanish forces who landed on the island of Cebu centuries ago.
In his campaign speeches, Duterte was reported as having made it a point to remind the crowds in his rallies about how Lapu-Lapu fought for the freedom of his land, and eventually killed the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who is often credited as the one who “discovered” the Philippines.
Duterte is said to be leaving it to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to figure out when and how Lapu-Lapu will be recognized nationwide.
But there could be a problem here.
In its Resolution No. 1, series of 2004, the National Historical Commission declared “the construction of the Lapu-Lapu monument at Rizal Park unwarranted and illegal,” for the reason that “Rizal Park was declared a historical site by the NHI Board in 1995.” A monument was nevertheless constructed through the efforts of then Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon, and is referred to as the “Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom.”
Indeed, Lapu-Lapu is not only an unsung hero. According to writer Sofronio B. Ursal in his recent book titled “The Bisayan,” Lapu-Lapu is also “mostly ignored, if not derided by Western-educated descendants of Spanish colonialists and encomenderos, who resented his victory that delayed the country’s Christianization and nationhood.”
“But what his detractors missed” Ursal continues, “was that by defying the foreign invaders and fighting for his people’s liberty, Lapu-Lapu has become a symbol of Freedom and Courage to a nation grown weak and impotent from centuries of bondage and domination by foreign powers.”
It is high time that this “historical injustice” be corrected and Lapu-Lapu included in our pantheon of national heroes.
—CHONA U. DONATO
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