Kadaugan sa Mactan, translated to Victory in Mactan, is held in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines every April 27. It is a yearly re-enactment of the Battle of Mactan of 1521 where local chieftain Lapulapu defeated the Spanish forces and killed Portuguese colonizer Ferdinand Magellan.
The result of the battle was the disastrous outcome of Magellan’s expedition and it halted the colonization of the Philippine archipelago by over forty years. Contemporary historians contextualized the battle as a significant event in the history of globalization.
The 27th of April is a special public working holiday in the Philippines and a special non-working holiday in Lapu-Lapu City by virtue of Republic Act No. 11040 that was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 29, 2018. The law also declared the day as “Lapu-Lapu Day” or “Adlaw ni Lapu-Lapu.”
History of Kadaugan sa Mactan
Kadaugan sa Mactan is an annual celebration organized by the City Government of Lapu-Lapu. Its highlight is the street theater that depicts the historical Battle of Mactan that took place in what is at present called Mactan Liberty Shine.
The first Kadaugan sa Mactan occurred on April 27, 1979. It was called Bahug-Bahug sa Mactan; the word bahug-bahug is a Cebuano term that means a brawl or a free-for-all. In that same year, Proclamation No. 1845 was issued from the Office of the President that declared April 27 as “Battle of Mactan Day”.
Bahug-Bahug sa Mactan was the brainchild of retired customs district collector David S. Odilao Jr. who was then the head of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development Region VII. Odilao is also the founder of Sinulog Festival which was organized in 1980, and he is acknowledged as the Father of Sinulog Festival and the Father of Kadaugan sa Mactan.
The first few years (between 1979 and 1981) saw 150 actors gathered from eight universities and colleges of Cebu. The two factions representing the Filipinos and the foreign colonizers consisted of thirty soldiers each. They underwent martial arts training with arnis master Ciriaco Cañete for several weeks. Their props were real bladed weapons, swords for the foreigners and bolos for the natives.
Over time, the re-enactment was renamed to what it is known today. Its staging has also evolved and marked with celebrity culture with participation of showbiz personalities, politicians, models, beauty queens, and sports icons cast in historical roles.
Battle of Mactan
Some accounts described the Battle of Mactan as the consequence of Magellan’s hubris and a story of how his fate was ensnared by local politics. He set sail from Europe in August 1519. Under the sponsorship of the Spanish monarchy, he was to establish a trading route for spices to the Moluccas in the west.
They arrived in Homonhon Island from Guam on March 16, 1521 and in Mazaua Island on March 31, 1521 where they held the First Easter Sunday mass in the Philippine archipelago. They established relations with Rajah Kolambu and Rajah Siawi, leaders of the natives they had met, and Rajah Kolumbu informed them about the island of Cebu where they could replenish their provisions.
They continued the journey westward and arrived in Cebu on April 7, 1521. They met Rajah Humabon who, together with his family and retinue, were baptized and became Christians on April 14, 1521. Humabon took the name Don Carlos (after King Charles) and his consort Hara Humamay the name of Juana (after the king’s mother). Magellan gave an image of the Sto. Niño to Juana as a gift upon her baptism.
Humabon issued instructions to the leaders of neighboring settlements to offer gifts to the Spaniards and receive the sacrament of baptism. On April 26, one of the chieftains in the island of Mactan, Zula, sent his son with an offering of two goats.
Zula could have complied better if it were not for Cilapulapu, later known as Lapulapu, a rival chieftain of the island who was unwilling to submit to the Spanish crown. Zula requested Magellan’s aid to force Lapulapu to stand down.
National Artist and historian Resil Mojares stated there was a possibility Lapulapu could have allied with Magellan but not with Humabon with whom he had an uneasy, protracted conflict over the control of the Mactan Channel. Two attacks were launched against Lapulapu prior to the battle.
According to Antonio Pigafetta, the Italian chronicler of the expedition, Magellan sailed with sixty of his men in three boats in the midnight of April 27, 1521. Humabon and his soldiers in twenty to thirty balangay (traditional wooden boats) accompanied him. They reached Mactan “three hours before daylight.”
As preparations were underway, Magellan told Humabon not to join in the fight as success was assured and to allow him the front seat of witnessing the superior might of the Europeans. A messenger was sent to offer Lapulapu an opportunity to change his mind. He doubled down and remained steadfast in refusing loyalty to the colonizers.
The Spaniards were also told to wait for sunrise for he was expecting reinforcement. They thought it was a ruse, that he wanted them to fall upon the ditches on the shoreline under the cover of darkness. So they waited until morning.
And as the morning came the tide changed. Seawater receded and the Spaniards had to anchor far from the shore, which was not in their favor as the range of the weapons in their boats was beyond Lapulapu’s army consisting of 1,500 men.
Only 49 men went with Magellan, the rest remained in their boats. They waded the waters and attacked. The battle began despite the fact that they were clearly outnumbered. Overwhelmed, they set the nearby houses on fire to terrorize the other side. The sight of houses engulfed in flames all the more inspired the natives and they targeted the legs of the Spaniards which were unprotected by armor.
The Spaniards began to retreat. The natives pursued them, lifting the spears they had thrown earlier along the way and once more hurling them at the Spaniards.
Magellan was struck with a poisoned arrow in his right leg. His helmet came off two times. His face was injured by a lance and drawing his sword fully was impeded by his right arm wounded by a javelin. When he received a blow from a great sword in his left leg, he fell. The natives surrounded him and attacked from all sides; he put up a fight to give his men time to flee back to the safety of their boats.
We who fought to extremity, and who were covered with wounds, seeing that he was dead, proceeded to the boats which were on the point of going away. This fatal battle was fought on the 27th of April of 1521, on a Saturday; a day which the captain had chosen himself, because he had a special devotion to it. There perished with him eight of our men, and four of the Indians, who had become Christians; we had also many wounded, amongst whom I must reckon myself. The enemy lost only fifteen men.Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley. The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta’s Account of Magellan’s Voyage
It is believed that Lapulapu, regarded as the first Filipino national hero, did not join the battle. He may have kept track of the ongoing clash and gave out commands from a distance on the beach. In the aftermath, he refused to give up the remains of the slain Spaniards in exchange for rewards. Little is known about him before and after the battle in historical records, and the story of his life and death became enmeshed with myth and lore.
The Spanish expedition chose Duarte Barbosa, brother-in-law of Magellan, as the new captain for their return trip to Europe.
Kadaugan sa Mactan Activities
Aside from the dramatization of the Battle of Mactan, Kadaugan sa Mactan also has several festival activities. That include street dancing, talent contests, job fair, bazaars, cook fest, sports, music, and cultural shows.
How to reach Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
One can book a flight to the Mactan International Airport.
- Kadaugan sa Mactan. Tourism Promotions Board Philippines. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Wenceslao: That battle in Mactan island. Sunstar. April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Holidays–Lapu-Lapu City. Legislative Digital Resources. Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Republic Act No. 11040. Official Gazette. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Proclamation No. 1845, s. 1979. Official Gazette. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Clarence Paul Oaminal. David S. Odilao, Father of the Bahug-Bahug sa Mactan. The Philippine Star. May 19, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Jacques-Louis David. Correcting a historical blunder. The Philippine Star. April 27, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Left-handed Lapu-Lapu kills Magellan. GMA News Online. April 28, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Ambeth R. Ocampo. An eyewitness account of the Battle of Mactan. Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 30, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley. The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta’s Account of Magellan’s Voyage. Wikisource. Retrieved April 19, 2023
- Max Limpag. Lapulapu was ready to submit to Spain, but local politics got in the way. The Philippine Star. April 27, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 2023