Briones: Wanted: killer

On the go

EVERYBODY’S talking about it. At least, here in Cebu. I know it’s the topic of choice at every gathering in Mactan. Or so I was told.

Okay, so maybe not everyone cares who really killed Ferdinand Magellan.

I doubt ‘Nang Bising, the woman who sells banana fritters at the corner of Magallanes and Leon Kilat, gives a hoot that the street where she has been making a living for the last 30 years is named after the Portuguese explorer responsible for bringing Roman Catholicism to the archipelago.

The guy was no priest, but he was sailing under the flag of Spain, ruled by Charles I, grandson of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. Some 27 years before Magellan’s “fleet” left Sevilla, sailed down the Guadalquivir River, reached Sanlucar de Barrameda and then headed out to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Isabella and Ferdinand, also known as the Catholic monarchs, drove out the last Moors from the Iberian peninsula in 1492.

Not that ‘Nong Isoy, the guy who goes around in his bicycle selling tuba, will give the matter a second thought. He just wants to get rid of his merchandise by sundown and maybe have some leftover for his own consumption.

Either way, the rest of the country will probably go on with their lives if it turns out that, as the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has suggested, somebody else had killed Magellan.

I know. Every kid who grew up in Cebu was told that Lapu-Lapu, the datu of Mactan, did it.

Even if they were asleep or were monkeying around when the teacher talked about the man responsible for Magellan’s demise, they must have learned about it from Yoyoy Villame’s song.

So imagine the Cebuanos’ surprise when they heard about plans to remove the statue of Lapu-Lapu at the Mactan Shrine and replace it with something else.

Apparently, the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC), which is based in Manila, has decided that the current one is not good enough for the 500th commemoration of the Battle of Mactan.

It turns out, I was misinformed.

According to Jobers Reynes Bersales, the NQC plans to hold a competition for a bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu with vignettes of events leading to the historic battle in the manner of a Lincoln Memorial. Those were his words, by the way.

That’s not so bad, is it?

Because, come to think of it, we really have no way of knowing who killed Magellan. There are no local written records to prove that claim and the Mactan datu didn’t leave any living descendants. But it doesn’t change the fact that if you ask Cebuanos who did it, they will all give you the same answer.


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