‘Tourism is Lapu’s new battle’

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


LAPU-LAPU City relived the Battle of Mactan yesterday, exactly 493 years after it took place.

A huge crowd, estimated by the police to reach 15,000 people, turned up to watch dancers and actors reenact the first recorded battle won by Filipinos.

Manila-based actors Daniel Matsunaga and Carlos Agassi drew loud cheers as they played Datu Lapu-Lapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, respectively.

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Miss Universe 2010 fourth runner-up and television host Venus Raj played Reyna Bulakna, Lapu-Lapu’s wife, during the 30-minute reenactment on the shore of Mactan Liberty Shrine.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, in her welcome speech yesterday morning, asked for support as the City brands itself as the “Historic Resort City,” being the place where the battle won by the first Filipino hero took place.

“Branding our city as the Historic Resort City will be our modern battle,” she said.

Lapu-Lapu City, with its world-class resorts and diving spots, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Tourism

Department of Tourism 7 Director Rowena Montecillo, yesterday’s guest speaker, said 700,000 foreign tourists and 250,000 domestic tourists visited the city last year.

It helped the Central Visayas, which drew 2.6 million visitors last year, become the second most popular destination for tourists, next to the National Capital Region.

“The city of Lapu-Lapu continues to be one of the most popular destinations in the country even after the calamities last year,” Montecillo said.

Just like Datu Lapu-Lapu, the city “exemplified courage amidst great odds” through its tourism industry’s fast recovery from the earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda, she added.

Montecillo asked the city officials to continue to protect its natural resources to sustain the city’s tourism industry.

City officials intensified efforts to protect the marine habitat after divers discovered vandalized corals.

Last year, the City suspended an underwater tour business after a video of its submarine hitting a wall of corals surfaced online.

Highlightv

Yesterday’s reenactment of the April 27, 1521 battle was one of the highlights of the three-day Kadaugan sa Mactan (Victory of Mactan) celebration.

Before the mock battle, dancers and actors depicted ancient native rituals. The crowd was treated to a shower of flower petals from a helicopter as the reenactment drew to an end.

The mock battle has been held since 1979. It was called “Bahug-Bahug sa Mactan” until it was renamed “Kadaugan sa Mactan” in 2001, during the administration of former mayor and congressman Arturo Radaza.

Mayor Radaza said a bill declaring April 27 of every year as “Lapu-Lapu Day” was filed in the Senate last November.

She said Rep. Aileen Radaza (Lapu-Lapu City, lone district), her daughter, also filed
a bill in Congress declaring April 27 of every year as a holiday in the city.

“This is the first step in our bid to have April 27 declared as a national holiday,” the mayor said. “When this happens, our city branding as a historic resort city will
get a bigger push.”

The City, Radaza added, should create a strong foothold in the country’s tourism industry.

Aside from branding itself as the “Historic Resort City”, the City has adopted the tourism slogan, “Free yourself”.

“Help me win our modern-day battle to invite more tourists and more investors as we
brand our city as an attractive place to visit, live, work and invest,” she said.
Actors

Yesterday’s actors and dancers prepared for the mock battle for a month.

Norman Casinillo, a 31-year-old production worker, said many of them sustained minor injuries in the course of their rehearsals.

Yesterday was the sixth time the father of two has joined the mock battle as one of Lapu-Lapu’s men.

“We trained hard to make the battle as realistic as possible,” he said in Cebuano.

Matsunaga, who is half Brazilian, half Japanese, said he was proud to be chosen for the role of Lapu-Lapu.

“I’ve been living in the Philippines for five years. I’m a Filipino by heart,” he told reporters.

Agassi, for his part, said he was happy to take part in the activity as it promotes awareness of history.

Raj, echoing Agassi’s statement, said: “Many children were able to watch and that’s nice because they learn about our history.”

She said she was overwhelmed to see the big crowd of spectators, many of whom soaked themselves in the seawaters to watch the mock battle.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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