NHCP chief reacts to ‘Elcano and Magellan’ film: ‘We will come up with our own narrative’

Amanda T. Lago
NHCP chief reacts to ‘Elcano and Magellan’ film: ‘We will come up with our own narrative’
A film on Lapulapu is being planned by the National Quincentennial Committee

MANILA, Philippines – National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairperson Rene Escalante said they are not in a position to ban the film Elcano and Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, but are instead planning a film depicting the Filipino side of the story.

Elcano and Magellan, produced by Spanish company Dibulitoon, drew flak from people online for its portrayal of Visayan leader Lapulapu as a villain. The Cebuano chieftain led the Battle of Mactan in 1521, where Portugese expeditioner Ferdinand Magellan was killed. 

The uproar led its distributor CrystalSky Multimedia to reevaluate the release of the film in the Philippines, saying in a statement that they are inviting academics, historians, and film experts to preview the movie. 

Escalante had earlier released a statement on the film, saying the NHCP “respects artistic freedom,” and that the agency “does not endorse nor critique films and other art forms.”

“One must understand the nature of history as biased, subjective, and selective. This is true with the Spanish-produced animated film Elcano and Magellan, which is, obviously, biased in favor of Spain and conforms to the Spanish point of view of history,” he said in a November 8 statement. (READ: [OPINION] The anger toward the ‘Elcano & Magellan’ film is unjustified)

“We are also biased toward our national sentiment and perspective: that Lapulapu is our hero and Magellan was the defeated foreign intruder,” the NHCP head added.

Escalante reiterated his statement on Friday, November 22, saying “this is produced by a company based in Spain, and it is expected that they will be coming up with a narrative from their point of view.”

Escalante was speaking at a press conference launching the partnership of Philpop and the National Quincentennial Committe (NQC).

“Ang narrative po talaga sa España is, killjoy si Lapulapu dahil sa pinatay niya, napatay niya ‘yung pinuno ng expedition. Yan po ang pananaw nila,” he said. (Spain’s narrative is really that Lapulapu is a killjoy because he killed the leader of their expedition. That’s their perspective.)

“Now, are we in the position to ban and then suppress them? It’s not proper,” Escalante said. “Sila naman po ang nagpondo nito, hayaan natin (They funded the film, let it be).”

He said the committee has proposed a budget for a film depicting the Filipino perspective.

“We will also come up with our own narrative and next year, I’m already coordinating with Liza Diño, chair of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, mayroon din po kaming ilalabas (we will release something),” he said.

He didn’t give any more details on the planned film, but mentioned that it is a “sponsored documentary” by the NQC, and that it may launch next year.

NQC was formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to prepare activities to commemorate the 500th anniversaries of the victory at Mactan, the introduction of Christianity, and the first circumnavigation of the world. The circumnavigation was initially led by Magellan, and completed by Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522.

The quincentennial celebrations will especially highlight Lapulapu, who was previously described as “one of the least appreciated, least studied heroes in our history,” by Karl Fajardo of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). 

At the Philpop-NQC press conference, Escalante shared some of the initiative the NQC is undertaking to highlight Lapulapu in the quincentennial celebration. Among these are:

  • Encouraging Congress to rename the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Lapulapu International Airport
  • Proposing that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas include Lapulapu’s likeness on money
  • Putting up a Lapulapu shrine in Mactan, along with a virtual reality museum depicting the Battle of Mactan
  • Proposing the declaration of April 27, the date of the Battle of Mactan, as a national non-working holiday

Escalante said they are making progress on the intiatives. As for the planned Lapulapu film, he said that he had made his presentation to the Senate, and that “chances are, it will materialize.” – Rappler.com


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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.