Lapulapu statue in Cebu to be replaced in 2021

Pia Ranada
Lapulapu statue in Cebu to be replaced in 2021
The iconic bronze statue will be replaced by a depiction of the Battle of Mactan, says the National Historical Commission of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The iconic statue of Mactan ruler Lapulapu will be replaced in 2021 by a monument that will more accurately portray the Battle of Mactan, said the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

The new statue will be the winning entry of the Lapulapu National Monument Design Contest to be launched in October, NHCP chairman Rene Escalante said in a press conference in Makati City on Wednesday, September 11.

The contest is part of the government’s quincentennial celebration celebrating the 500th anniversary of the 1521 Battle of Mactan and first circumnavigation of the world.

The 10-foot statue of Lapulapu that now stands in the location of the historic battle will be replaced on April 27, 2021, or exactly 500 years after the skirmish where Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed.

This is the day when the new monument will be unveiled. 

What to expect about this new shrine? It won’t portray any single hero so as to more accurately depict what actually happened in the seaside battle.

“It was never mentoned that it was Lapulapu who personally killed or delivered the blow that killed Magellan…. He fell down and was hacked to death. It was a collective effort,” explained Escalante.

Thus, the new monument will be called the “New Liberty Shrine” instead of Lapulapu monument.

But Cebuanos who are sentimental about the Lapulapu statue need not worry. It will find a new home in the area. Escalante said it will be transferred to a proposed museum about Lapulapu.

“Definitely, that monument is already sanctified by time. We will be putting up a museum in that same site and that will be the main attraction and we will place it in the courtyard,” said Escalante.

The Philippine government aims to highlight Lapulapu and the country’s precolonial history in the quincentennial celebration, in keeping with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directives to promote the hero and challenge the “eurocentric” historical perspective that the country’s civilization and history began when it was colonized by Spain. 

Among the planned events for the commemoration include the opening of a museum on Philippine early history in Butuan City, a balangay expedition from 2019 to 2021, and an international conference on the Philippine part of the first circumnavigation of the world. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at