It was the timing that rankled many.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go could have shared Abrahan Ibarani-Idjirani’s study on Philippine history that Lapulapu was not a Mactan chief but a Tausug warrior sent to Cebu to monitor the presence of foreigners on any other occasion and it might have invited intellectual discourse, not public condemnation of historical revisionism.
But Go chose to drop the bombshell during the quincentennial celebration of when Lapulapu reportedly killed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan at the Battle of Mactan on the site where it reportedly happened in the city named after the chieftain.
Then again, Go is from Davao City. His family and the majority of families who settled in the area in the past century were mostly from other parts of the archipelago. They displaced the indigenous population, supplanting it with a foreign language, culture and religion. What do they know of history and pride of place?
It’s not his fault if he underestimated the Cebuanos and our claim to fame that it was one of our own who first resisted foreign rule, although even that can be questioned since, at that time, Magellan wasn’t trying to colonize Mactan but was doing a favor for Lapulapu’s rival from across the channel.
Since we don’t have any written record of what actually happened save for what Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta wrote about the incident, we have no choice but to take his word for it, which is kind of ironic.
Everything we know of our past – our history – came from a foreign power that lorded over us for more than 300 years.
And then the Spaniards introduced Christianity, which wiped out the endemic religion and planted seeds of hatred against our Muslim brethren, who continued to resist them during their stay in the islands.
No, I don’t blame the senator for putting the subject under the spotlight. In fact, like Cebuano archaeologist and history Jose Eleazar “Jobers” Bersales, I also found the controversy to be a “blessing in disguise” for helping raise awareness about Cebu’s pre-colonial history.
And we shouldn’t be so quick to disregard or dispel the notion of an alternative version of the past, especially one that comes from a group of people who never came under Spanish rule and was therefore free of any taint of prejudice or bias for the interlopers.
Is Idjarani’s claim so farfetched because it doesn’t jibe with what we’ve been taught in the last 500 years? No.
But Go could have chosen another event or picked another time to broach the subject out of delicadeza for his host and the people of Cebu. Well, he has since apologized, sort of, for his gaffe so it’s time to move on. After all, there is a far more pressing matter that needs to be addressed like the sexual mores of our pre-colonial ancestors.