Who killed Lapu-Lapu? Philippine history questions answered

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2017 09:42 PM

MANILA - Have you ever wondered who killed Lapu-Lapu or if he really was the person who killed Ferdinand Magellan? Here are some of the popular myths in Philippine history explained by historian Prof. Xiao Chua.

1. Why did we celebrate Philippine independence on July 4?

Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence on June 12, 1898, but the Americans came and ruled over the Philippines for more than 40 years. It was only on July 4, 1946, right after World War 2, when the Philippines finally regained its independence.

The country used to celebrate independence day on July 4, but due to a petition from a group of historians, former President Diosdado Macapagal decided to move the celebration of the country's independence from July 4 to June 12.

"Sabi ni Macapagal, tumulong ang Philippine Historical Association, nag-petisyon sa presidente ng Pilipinas, nakinig naman si Macapagal, nailipat ang Philippine independence from July 4 to June 12," Chua told DZMM.

2. Did Aguinaldo declare Philippine independence on the balcony of his house?

According to Chua, Aguinaldo declared independence on the middle window of his house in Kawit. It was only later on that a balcony was built on the spot to commemorate its importance in history.

"Sa bintana iwinagayway ang bandila ng Pilipinas. Noong 1920, nag-renovate, pinalagyan ng balcony sa gitnang bintana," Chua explained.

He also said the flag-raising ceremony was done at 4:20 in the afternoon on June 12, as was written in Aguinaldo's diary.

3. Did Jose Rizal write the poem "Sa Aking Mga Kababata"?

According to Chua, the word "kalayaan" was used twice in the poem, but Rizal asked his brother, Paciano, about the meaning of the word when he was 26 years old.

"Nung 26 years old na siya, itinatanong niya sa Kuya Paciano niya kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng salitang kalayaan," Chua said, which means it was unlikely that Rizal wrote the poem.

Chua added that whoever wrote the poem may have attributed it to Rizal to defy American rule, since the poem surfaced at the time when the Americans ruled the country.

4. Was Apolinario Mabini's paralysis caused by syphilis?

Chua said the myth that Mabini has syphilis was spread by his opponents, or those people who wanted him removed from the government.

"'Yung syphilis kasi, ayon na rin sa pananaliksik ni Prof. Ambeth Ocampo, 'yung syphilis na story, 'yan ay ginamit ng mga kalaban ni Mabini, kasi si Mabini ayaw niyang magkaroon ng masyadong kapangyarihan sa Kongreso ang mga elite, na kinakaibigan si Aguinaldo, eh siya 'yung pinapakinggan ni Aguinaldo," Chua said.

He added that Mabini experienced discrimination in government, with his enemies questioning his skills because was a paralytic.

5. Did Lapu-Lapu kill Ferdinand Magellan?

Chua said that although Magellan died in the battle with Filipinos, it was not Lapu-Lapu who personally delivered the killing blows.

"Leader lang siya ng mga pumatay kay Magellan," he said.

Chua also explained that there are no written records about Lapu-Lapu's death.

According to Ocampo, Lapu-Lapu “was not a handsome, gym-fit warrior” when he defeated Magellan at the Battle of Mactan.

Citing a chapter from Danilo Madrid Gerona’s book “Ferdinand Magellan: The Armada de Maluco and the European Discovery of the Philippines,” which is based on primary sources in Spain and Portugal, Ocampo said Lapu-Lapu was already 70 years old at the time.

“Lapu-Lapu was, like [President] Rodrigo Duterte, 70 years old. He was not in the battle himself. Another textbook fairy tale down the drain,” he said.


According to Prof. Van Ybiernas of De La Salle University, there are lapses in historical accounts because it is not possible for historians to write everything that happened.

"Binibigyan ng kapangyarihan kasi ang historian kung paano niya susulatin ang kasaysayan. Sa dami kasi ng nangyayari sa kasaysayan natin, namimili iyung historyador kung ano 'yung isusulat niya eh, so marami na part noong naganap sa ating kasaysayan, hindi sila nasusulat," he said.

Minor details that are not discussed in books often become topics of myths, because some people believe information passed on to them without verifying the authenticity.

"Yung mga enduring na maling impormasyon, hindi sila purong purong maling impormasyon. Ang nangyayari diyan, ang kalahati, one third o one fourth, may certain portion niyan, totoo tapos dinadagdagan nila ng information na hindi verified," Ybiernas said.

"Nagkakahalo-halo ang totoo sa hindi totoo," he added.