For President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Lapu-Lapu was the first Philippine hero for killing Spanish invader Ferdinand Magellan and wants to honor him by naming the Mactan-Cebu International Airport after him.
The President made the remark as he stressed the importance of correcting how people remember history, particularly the events that transpired after Magellan set foot in the island of Cebu in 1521.
“Well, all is history, water under the bridge. As we go along life and we strive for a nation-building, I felt it very important that things should be corrected along the way,” Duterte said during the National Heroes Day rites held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Monday.
Last July, Duterte made the correction by signing Republic Act (RA) 11040 declaring 27 April as Lapu-Lapu Day or Adlaw ni Lapu-Lapu, making him officially known as a national hero.
The act will give a special working public holiday nationwide and a special non-working holiday for Lapu-Lapu City and the whole of Cebu province.
Duterte said it pains him to see how Lapu-Lapu has been relegated to a mere species of fish.
“As a footnote, just the — a vignette of life, Lapu-Lapu was the first Filipino to kill a foreigner who invaded our country. But sadly he was a Visayan, I think he was a Moro, still in the Visayas. History forgot him. He was the first hero and designated a certain specie of fish and called it lapu-lapu. That is why it pains me deeply to see lapu-lapu being eaten every day, escabeche, fried, and all sorts of recipe,” he said.
Duterte also recalled his presidential campaign in 2016 when he saw and questioned a statue of Lapu-Lapu being smaller than a statue of Magellan.
The President said, although he did not want to “dishonor” the memory of Magellan, he disagreed with how history books framed Magellan as having “discovered” the Philippines.
“It’s funny to me because we were not discovered. We, along with the Indonesians and Malaysians, Brunei and everybody here, we belong to the Malay race and we have had our own civilization thriving before the Dutch invaded Indonesia; the British, Malaysia; and the Philippines, the Spaniards and the Americans,” he said.