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Review of the Life of a Hero: Lapu-lapu

Review of the Life of Lapu-Lapu

I will present to you here my comprehensive review of the life of a Philippine hero: Lapu-Lapu

a.k.a. Caliph Pulaka
(1491 - 1542)

 was the king of Mactan, an island in the Visayas, Philippines, who is known as the first native of the archipelago to have resisted Spanish colonization. He is now regarded as the first Filipino hero

Map of Mactan, Lapu-lapu in Cebu, Philippines

Little is known regarding Lapu-Lapu’s life. According to oral tradition, his parents were Kusgano and Inday Puti, He had an older brother, Mingming. It was said that the term Mactan derived from the name of his grandmother, Matang Mantaunas, who was a powerful queen during his times. Lapu-Lapu was a most honored Bagani, a traditional term of warrior. He was known for his courage and skill in warfare. He was married to a beautiful princess, Bulakna, daughter of Datu Sabtano, and bore a son named Sawili who grew up as a brave warrior like his father.

According to Sulu oral tradition, Lapu-Lapu was a Muslim chieftain, and was also known as "Kaliph Pulaka". The people of Bangsamoro, the Moro homeland in the Philippines, consider him to be a Muslim and a member of the Tausug ethnic group.

Lapu-Lapu was believed to be an extraordinary and admired leader. On the morning of April 27, 1521, Lapu-Lapu and the men of Mactan, armed with spears and kampilan, faced Spanish soldiers led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. In what would later be known as the Battle of Mactan, Magellan and several of his men were killed. Lapu-Lapu’s utmost strength was tested during his fight against Magellan.

A Portuguese historian who interviewed one of the survivors and a soldier of Magellan in India, Gaspar Correa, admired Lapu-Lapu that he was a chieftain who encouraged and motivated his men to fight to a group of people who were more powerful than them. Nevertheless, Lapu-Lapu was already a powerful leader of an alliance composed of seven tribes in Mactan Island when Magellan came to colonize the island to serve as a crown offered to Spain.

The 1898 Philippine Declaration of Independence refers to Lapu-Lapu as "King Kalipulako de Maktan". In the 19th century, the reformist Mariano Ponce used a variant name, "Kalipulako", as one of his pseudonyms.

By Khen Salce

Because I found no writings or literary arts created personally by Lapu-lapu which could be used to study his life, I utilized some data from the researchers in the internet who shared valuable information about his life especially the story behind the "Battle of Mactan”.

This short review tries to frame the scattered psychological factors that led Lapu-lapu’s success in the Battle of Mactan. To start, I’ve set viewpoints to consider: to determine personal and environmental backgrounds of Lapu-Lapu that made him an extraordinary and admired leader; to find out the cognitive aspect or belief of Lapu-Lapu that made him undefeatable; and to mirror some implications of Lapu-Lapu’s behavior in the present society.

As we know, little is known about the life of Lapu-lapu. But I tried harder to gather more information about his life. This is it. Lapu-lapu was said to be a Muslim. In the Muslim culture, bravery and blood are twins. They are said to be bravest when they fight for a cause and when their blood spills. Male Muslims were already trained in warfare while they were in childhood. A grown-up Muslim and a descendant of a royal family might be a solid mixture of Lapu-lapu’s strength and bravery. This extraordinary personality was manifested during his fight with Magellan. Magellan’s soldiers were more powerful in terms of weapons and armory but these did not hinder the success of Lapu-Lapu to kill Magellan and his troops.  Lapu-lapu’s personal and environmental background shaped him not what he wanted to be but what he needed to be – a fighter for freedom from colonialism.

Lapu-lapu’s belief system served a great part on his success in the Battle of Mactan and an outstanding model of word of honor and decisiveness. He had the thinking like other Philippine heroes, not to be slave of other culture but to be free of living his own culture. He had the vision that if he surrender himself to Magellan, something wrong will happen. His sense of achievement was very high due to his autonomous or independent thinking. According to Maslow, people who are independent thinkers are more likely to be high achievers. We can also reflect the ‘amor propio’(word of honor) of Lapu-lapu. When he promised not to give Magellan’s dead body to Humabon, he did it so, even Humabon also promised to give anything Lapu-lapu wanted (treasures, material things in the world). Lapu-lapu did not bargain his word of honor to any material things in the world. (Unlike some known leaders in our nation, they are easily convinced by money and wealth offered by other nations).  Lapu-lapu kept Magellan’s dead body as a symbol of their victory. This could reinforce Lapu-lapu’s sense of achievement and success.

Lapu-lapu is indeed an extraordinary freedom fighter. He was a model of courage and bravery by the past and present heroes. The courage of Muslims nowadays is a reflection of Lapu-lapu’s personality. It’s a sad reality in the present that our kababayang Muslims especially the MILF and Abu Sayyaf continued to create havoc just to settle and take what they owned from the Philippine government. Like Lapu-lapu, they want liberation, freedom and to enjoy what their ancestors owned centuries ago. Could the reason be the repression of Lapu-lapu’s mentality to the mind of the modern Muslims? It might be.

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Total comments: 15
15 ronald ecaranum   (16 February 2015 10:30 AM)
please respect! our hero lapu lapu is not a muslim religeon !at the time of our hero lapu lapu. and the first people came in philippines especialy in visayas' peoples believe only ANITO' AND OTHERS ARE BATHALA' MUSLIM IS A third history of a religon first is hinduism and the second is a roman catholic!.. take note muslim is from malaysia came in philippines island.

14 May Flor Mendez Dagnalan   (15 January 2015 4:28 PM)
what's the real name of lapu-lapu's father?

13 King Macachor   (16 May 2014 7:43 PM)
If you want to know more about Lapu-lapu visit my blog:

By the way, Mactan is a term which was coined by the Americans when they wen to build the Mactan Airbase in the 60's. The original name is Opon.

12 irish   (21 December 2013 11:34 AM)

10 Jehazel   (23 October 2013 10:56 AM)
.,I have a question..what are the symbols of lapu-lapu in fighting?.,

11 admin   (25 October 2013 2:15 PM)
Jehazel, bolo knife and Magellan's dead body.

9 paul andrew calaycay   (08 October 2013 6:30 PM)
LAPU-LAPU is the brave and strong , he is the right model for all heroes and he is a perfect person to all that who wants to be a hero

coz he gave his life for his nation , religion or etc.

8 Alemrac   (07 October 2013 6:25 AM)
Lapu-lapu is not a Muslim. He is a real Filipino with no religion. Muslim came from Borneo and Malaysia just like catholic from Spain and Mexico. The animal none necklace just shows that his classified that he eats animal. Muslim don't. So no respect with Islam. Wake up and don't be fooled. Respect The Filipino culture.

7 ivy   (29 July 2013 4:40 PM)
lapu-lapu is great hero

6 jazK   (23 April 2013 5:05 PM)
Lapu-Lapu is a great pride of the Philippines. Magellan colonized several places he landed on, but who would have thought that he will die in the hands of a Pilipino warrior.
While some of you guys really think that Lapu-lapu was a Muslim, Im not quite sure or convinced that he was. Rarther, I believe he was a descendant from the Malay tribes,,possibly originating in Malasian region but not merely an Islam person. If Islam was practiced in Cebu regions at the time of Lapu-Lapu, then there would be remnants of Islamic archetetures and literatures all over the Island of Mactan..but non of these was even written in history books.
I do believe he worship Idols of Stones and animals..for whatever he believe in..He was a brave leader..who uses his bravery for the good of all his people..

5 jeb   (28 March 2013 8:48 PM)
What is the cause of death of Lapu-Lapu because we only know that he killed Magellan yet we do not know how Lapu-Lapu died.

4 Anakiluh   (08 June 2012 7:01 PM)
Yup, Lapu-Lapu is indeed a Muslim, his real name was Maas Ilidji or Khalif Kulapu (The Filipinos later named him Lapu-Lapu)

Bugaong is just confused because Filipino Writers of History Books do not want the people to know that their First Hero is a Muslim. They hate Muslims that is why...

Hope more people will have an open-mind and accept the truth as they are and not to change and twist history by their wants and whims..

Thanks Khen

2 bugaong   (28 March 2012 12:05 PM)
Who told you Lapu Lapu was a Muslim? Are you sure? Lapu Lapu sa was a pagan.

3 admin   (28 March 2012 12:21 PM)
bugaong, I just read it from various sources in the internet. Could you please tell me how did you know Lapu lapu was a pagan? Did he really worship idols?

1 jeffrey de guzman   (22 August 2011 2:13 PM)
this is really awesome,i very very very very like this ,amazing