Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cebu: Lapu-Lapu Shrine of Mactan Island

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Don't you dare miss out on the popular tourist spots whenever you're in Cebu. It should always be a part of your itinerary especially when visiting for the first time. The excitement of finally seeing the famous landmarks that we usually see in photos and travel blog sites are totally splendid. We would see ourselves taking lots of photos from different angles repeatedly so we could properly capture the beauty of the sites. It's never everyday we get to hang around these locations so we might as well make the most of it.

This is why your friendly neighborhood Pambansang Blogger specifically requested for an extension of my stay after attending a particular event in Cebu. Instead of joining the early flight back home to Manila, I requested to take the last flight back home so I would have plenty of time for a day tour even if it means I need to rent a private car to tour me around the city to visit the most popular but conveniently along the way back to the airport before boarding the plane back to Manila.

Cebu has always been a favorite destination in the Philippines. "The name Cebu came from the word “SEBU” meaning animal fat. Long before the coming of the Spaniards, it was a fishing village ruled by Rajah Humabon. Being the first and oldest city in the country antedating Manila by 7 years, having University of San Carlos, as the oldest school, and being the cradle of Christianity in the Far East (i.e. Magellan’s cross planted in Cebu as a symbol of natives embracing the Christian faith), Cebu is replete with historical firsts."

I believe it was worth every peso. The Php 1,500 payment for a travel agency's private car with my own driver to take me to the nearest tourist spots around was reasonable enough for me. The driver was courteous and respectful and would always take the initiative to take my photos at every location except those that would require him to park the car from somewhere far. I had to ask other people around to take my photo instead.

The few hours we have allowed us to tour only a handful of sites and among them was the Lapu-Lapu Shrine located in Mactan Island specifically at an enclosed park in Punta Engano. It's the one conveniently near the Mactan Airport so those with less time to go around the city has the easy opportunity to visit the site.

Lapu-Lapu is a famous character in Philippine history for being the very first Filipino to have repelled European aggression . Every Filipino knows the story of Lapu-Lapu and how he fought, defeated and killed the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan and repulsed the Spanish invaders. It is said that it is in the same area where the first historical battle happened back in 1521 dated on April 27.

The 20-meter bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu holds a shield at his left hand and a "kampilan" sword in his right. The statue was erected in honor of the brave chief of Mactan.

There's the Magellan monument built in 1866 to commemorate the Portuguese explorer. The monument consists of a plain obelisk on whose apex rests a sphere. The obelisk is mounted on a tall plinth and the plinth rests on a tripartite structure: an octagonal base on which rests a tall quadrilateral structure, divided into two parts. The lower part is decorated with high relieves of vases, and the upper part is pierced by narrow arches. A low fence surrounds the monument.

You can enter the park for free and is good for family or barkada picnics, or just hanging around to spend the day. There are plenty of souvenir shops and food vendors at the park.

They have a covered or roofed structure where you can find a mural painting depicting the battle of Mactan at the back of a huge slab of marker briefly telling how Lapu-Lapu and his men defeated the Spanish invaders.

The commemorative marker in front of the painting reads “Here on April 27, 1521, Lapu-lapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader, Ferdinand Magellan. Thus Lapu-lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.”

We know the historical documentations back in the old days were not yet reliable so this is probably why the markings only briefly explains about the battle. The history we now know may be more than just a myth or less of the truth passed on from generations to the next. We all know that the real stories may get a bit inaccurate depending on whose telling it. This is why we are now very blessed that we are now more informed and well connected nowadays mainly because of the power of the Internet and the proliferation of affordable smartphones with Internet connectivity.

The mural painting is a representation of the battle of Mactan - between Filipinos led by Datu Lapu-Lapu against the Spanish invaders led by Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan.

There are platforms located near the shore so there's probably activities being held at these areas. It could also be a part of performances to commemorate the battle of Mactan. At the shores of the beach was some tribal-related erections designed probably for special occasions, or merely as decorative ornaments at the beach that would be good for photo ops for tourists.

During the anniversary of the Battle of Mactan every month of April, the park hosts the “Kadaugan sa Mactan,” a re-enactment of the epic battle.

For convenience, just ride a taxi from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport for a quick stop here, and back. You may want to spend around 15 minutes for photo ops, and little longer if you want to dine on some seafood at the nearby restaurants.

A visit at these historical sites would never be complete without a selfie or photo with the most famous landmark at the location. So if you're traveling alone, be sure to be friendly enough to take the guts to ask somebody among the crowd to take your photo. I'm not really a selfie guy so I took the effort to ask the nearest person beside me to take my photo for more than two times just in case there might be blurred shots.

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