Historian: Lapulapu was not Tausug

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2021 10:18 AM | Updated as of Apr 30 2021 11:27 AM

The statue of Lapulapu, who was the datu of Mactan, an island in the Visayas in the Philippines at the Luneta Park in Manila on March 1, 2010. Lapulapu is known as the first native of the archipelago to resist Spanish colonization. Noel Celis, AFP

MANILA - A Filipino historian debunked Friday a claim made by Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go that Lapulapu, leader of the island of Mactan in the Visayas, was from Mindanao.

Dr. Jobers Bersales, director of the University of San Carlos Museum, stressed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men would have been massacred the minute they set foot on the island if Lapulapu was Tausug. 

"Lapulapu would have killed everyone if he was a Tausug. He would have brought with him cannons, which were already being used in Jolo and in Brunei," he said in an interview on ANC.

"The moment they (Magellan and his crew) started on shore, there would have been a massacre. There would have been no (Antonio) Pigafetta. We would have not known anything about the expedition because I am sure if Lapulapu was Tausug, he would have maybe 20 lantakas, 20 canons there prepared to welcome Magellan and the 50 others."

"He didn't. So that means he was not Tausug," he added.

Bersales maintained there was no other evidence that would show that the native chieftain was from anywhere else but Mactan.

"The fact that he was mentioned in Pigafetta's chronicle as paramount chief of Mactan, that's already an indication that he was living there," he said.

"Because of that, we assumed that where you are a chief that is where you came from and where you grew up because you will not be chief there if you came from somewhere [else]," he added.

Bersales said Pigafetta, who chronicled the Spanish expedition in 1521, would have also mentioned if Lapulapu was Tausug or from Mindanao after having traveled there and becoming familiar with Muslim practices.

He noted though that historical information about Lapulapu was limited to the latter being a datu and his role in the Battle of Mactan.

"Sen. Bong Go, I think, is citing sources that are also correct in the sense that nobody really knows where Lapulapu came from. In the same vein na (that) nobody also knows where [Rajah] Jumabon and all the other chiefs [came from] because Pigafetta was not interested in the genealogies of these chiefs," Bersales said.

"We know very little about Lapulapu," he added.

Go, former aide of President Rodrigo Duterte who also said in 2018 that Lapulapu could have been a Moro, has apologized.

He said his speech during the 500th anniversary celebration of Battle of Mactan was based on a study by Abraham Ibarani-Idjirani, spokesperson of the defunct Sultanate of Sulu.

"Nabanggit din nang ilang beses ni Pangulong Duterte ito sa kanyang mga talumpati noon," he said.

(This was also mentioned by President Duterte in his previous speeches.)

Lapulapu inspired a group of indigenous warriors to defeat Magellan in Mactan island on April 27, 1521.

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