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Magellan's Shrine

Updated on March 5, 2015

Magellan's Shrine in Punta Engaño, Mactan Island, Cebu

Magellan Shrine is one of Cebu tourist spot favorites located in Punta Engaño, Mactan Island, Cebu. It was built on 1866 in honor of the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan who was believed to have died in this spot on 1521.

History has it that when Magellan arrive in Cebu Island. He befriended Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Humamai who he later converted to Christianity. As a result of this friendship Magellan then used his influence with Rajah Humabon to issue an order to all neighboring chiefs that they should provide Magellan with food supplies for his fleet of ships and to convert to Christianity.

The Spaniard appears to be all powerful with their superior military equipments (Body Armour, Cannons, Crossbow, Guns, Sword and Galleon). It was easy to convince most of the native’s chief to agree and comply with the order. Some may have comply out of fear while others probably to gain a stronger political clout against rival chiefs.

Magellan's Shrine in Punta Engaño, Mactan Island, Cebu

However one of the native’s chief named Datu Lapu-Lapu of Mactan refused to comply with the order that Raja Humabon have sent since back then it was widely believe that that Raja Humabon and Datu Lapu-Lapu have been harboring grudged against each other and on occasion are fighting for territory control. With Datu Lapu-Lapu refusal to comply Raja Humabon and Datu Zula (Datu Lapu-Lapu rival) suggested to Magellan that they should show Datu Lapu-Lapu the real might of the King of Spain’s Army. Magellan for his part tried to avoid bloodshed and the night before the battle has asked Datu Lapu-Lapu to reconsider and comply with Raja Humabon's order.

With Datu Lapu-Lapu refusal Magellan has no choice but to subdue Datu Lapu-Lapu rebellion. It was said that he order Raja Humabon and Datu Zula not to take part on the assault. Magellan believes that this was the perfect time to show the native’s chief how powerful they truly are.

According to Antonio Pigaffeta an Italian scholar who travelled with Magellan and kept a journal of his voyage, on the day of the battle Magellan wasn’t able to land his ship because the shore of Mactan is surrounded with corals and rocky beds. He was then forced to anchor his ships from the shore which renders the ship's cannons ineffective.

Magellan and 48 of his man disembarked to a water level that is thigh high. The spaniards wearing metal body armors moves at a very slow pace as they try to reach the shore this gave Datu Lapu-Lapu and his men’s the opportunity to harass them with spears. The lost of the ships cannons proved to be fatal for Magellan and his man as they where vastly outnumbered.

It was said that Raja Humabon tried to offer gift and jewelry to Datu Lapu-Lapu for the return of Magellan body. However, no body was ever recovered. Maybe out of shame or anger Raja Humabon held a feast and secretly poison the food of the surviving Spaniards upon their return to Cebu Island.

Upon knowing the faith bestow by the native to their comrades those who didn't partake in the feast quickly fled Cebu Island.

Since 1980 when Kaduagan sa Mactan which translate to Victory in Mactan was first re-enactment.It has gradually attracted the attention of local tourist.I have in fact have attended the said event thrice and it have become one of Cebu tourist spot hottest event of the year.

The Magellan's Marker

Painting depicting the Battle of Mactan
Painting depicting the Battle of Mactan
Front-end of Magellan's Marker
Front-end of Magellan's Marker
Back-end of Magellan's Marker
Back-end of Magellan's Marker

In an open shelter located inside the grounds of the Mactan Shrine is a panoramic painting depicting the Battle of Mactan. Also, located in the same open shelter is the Magellan's Marker which was erected in 1941 by the National Historical Institute. It is constructed using marble and bares two plaques.

On the front of the marker is a plaque which bares the following text:


Here on 27 April 1521, Lapulapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader Ferdinand Magellan thus Lapu Lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.

On the back of the marker is the other plaque which bares the following text:

Ferdinand Magellan's Death

On this spot Ferdinand Magellan died on April 27, 1521 wounded in an encounter with the soldiers of Lapu Lapu, Chief of Mactan Islands. One of Magellan's ships, The Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, sailed from Cebu on May 1, 1521 and anchored at San Lucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522 thus completing the first circumnavigation of the earth.

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