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Mactan Shrine – Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu

Mactan Shrine is a popular heritage site in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Its rich history is not just well-known in the Philippines—but throughout the globe as well.  It holds the story of the famous expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan which was the first to circumnavigate the world.

Monument of Ferdinand Magellan - Mactan Shrine
Magellan Shrine


Exploring Mactan Shrine

Since the airport in Lapu-Lapu City is near the Mactan Shrine, we went there first to get the momentum before heading to Cebu City. Upon entering the complex, the first thing that we saw from the entrance of Mactan Shrine is the Magellan Shrine. The construction of this shrine was in 1866.

This memorial tower was made in honor of the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (Fernando de Magallanes) whose expedition is the first recorded circumnavigation of the world. It is believed that the shrine was made in the area where Ferdinand Magellan died during the battle.

Philippine's first national hero. - Mactan Shrine
Lapu-Lapu Shrine

The Lapu-Lapu shrine is a majestic 20 meter (66ft) bronze statue depicting a warrior Lapu-Lapu holding a broad sword and a wooden shield. Lapu-Lapu is the ruler of Mactan Island who stood up against the Spanish colonizers who are demanding taxes and submission to their government.

When Ferdinand Magellan and his crew attacked Mactan island with guns and rifles, Lapu-Lapu and his men didn’t get intimidated even if their weapons are primitive. They fought back with honor and defeated them. His courageous stand for the country earned him the title of being the first national hero of the Philippines.

Battle of Mactan

Ferdinand Magellan's battle with Lapu-Lapu
Battle of Mactan depiction in Mactan Shrine


On April 27, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan made a bold attempt to attack Mactan Island with just 60 soldiers. He even left 11 people to guard the boats leaving him a total of 49 men only to attack an island with more than 1,500 warriors. King Leonidas’ 300 men against a million Persian could be his inspiration, who knows? But in his case—he is the invader.

His ship (Victoria) couldn’t get near the shore because of the corals and rocky outcroppings. Because of this, he failed to utilize the ship’s cannons (howitzers) to his advantage.

Lapu-Lapu and his troops were armed with kampilans (a broad metal sword), wooden shields and poison arrows when they faced them. While Ferdinand Magellan’s soldiers were armed with swords, axes, metal armors and rifles. The rifles that time had round bullets. This made them less accurate compared to the modern pointed bullets now.

On top of that, those take a lot of time to reload. You will need to manually put the gunpowder, the bullet then push it with a long stick. That gives enough time for Lapu-Lapu’s troops to get close to Magellan’s then overpower them with their huge number.

Lapu-Lapu Shrine - Mactan Shrine
Lapu-Lapu Shrine


Death of Ferdinand Magellan

According to Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta, their legs were the main target because of the lack of armor. In the height of the battle, when Lapu-Lapu’s troops recognized Ferdinand Magellan, a lot of them went after him and killed him. Magellan’s crew retreated back in their ship with plenty of wounded men.

Rajah Humabon betrayed them later by poisoning their wounded men during a feast. Juan Sebastián del Cano, the new leader of the crew ordered their immediate departure after finding out about the betrayal. When they reached Spain 1522, they’ve unintentionally completed the first circumnavigation of the world.

I wish they settled for a trade agreement only instead of imposing tax and submission to their government. That kind of deal could have spared many lives at that time.

Our Video of Mactan Shrine



No entrance fee (just a donation box)
Parking fee: P10.00

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