Saturday, 6 October 2012

They had us at Hola: A History Lesson


Fernāo Magalhaes was a nerd.  He was the son of the mayor in his native town, and as a boy, he studied map making and navigation.  In his 20’s he joined a Portuguese fleet, engaged in battle and in the process got himself wounded.  As a result, he walked the remainder of his life with a limp. While nursing his injury, he was falsely accused of illegal trading with the Moors and despite his services to Portugal,  Fernāo fell from the grace of the King.

Ferdinand Magellan
He eventually renounced his Portuguese nationality, and then pledged his allegiance and offered his navigational services to Spain, and took the name Ferdinand Magellan.  Because really, what were his other options?

In 1521, Magellan and his fleet of 5 ships came upon the Philippines and claimed all of her 7,107 islands for Mother Spain.  They weren’t really the first foreigners to arrive the archipelago seeing that Indians and Chinese were already trading with the natives, but first to claim to have discovered it.  These Spaniards were just too cheeky for their own good.

Naturally, the natives were greatly impressed with Magellan's circumnavigation project and very much in awe with this bunch of sweaty armor clad mestizos.  They smiled graciously and went for the beeline to be baptized. They gave up their land and proclaimed an unknown crazy man as their King who lived half way across the world.  Because as a people, we bow and say yes to whatever a white looking dude tells us to do. (Note sarcasm here. Actual historians, hold your hate mails.)

We as Filipinos are known for our hospitality, as evidenced by travel books and websites. It must have started here.  We're so hospitable we gave our land away. It would've been crass not to.

Battle of Mactan, 1521
Not everyone took to the Spaniards, though.  A native tribal chief warrior, Lapu-Lapu, was not impressed with the foreigners and refused to be the vassal of Spain.  Magellan and his men wanted to give him a lesson, went after him, but in the end, got their asses resoundingly whopped.

My friend XabiWanKenobi assumed that Magellan died from a disease during transit back to Spain.  This is historically incorrect.  He was killed in battle by the great Lapu-Lapu from Mactan, Cebu.

There is little known fact about the great Philippine hero Lapu-Lapu, which coincidentally is also the name of a type of fish.

Years ago I attended a film workshop by a brilliant Filipino filmmaker with metal plates in his head.  Noel Lim went off topic and discussed his own theory about Magellan and Lapu-Lapu. 

Magellan is peddling ashore one morning and a giant fish jumps out of the water and devours him.  “What the heck was that?” cry his men.  “Lapu-lapu!” a native onlooker answers.

The Spaniards head back to their Motherland and report their commander’s untimely demise.

“Who killed Magellan?” the King asks.  “Lapu-Lapu.”, they say.

“Who is this Lapu-Lapu?”

His men look at each other in silence, contemplating on their beloved leader now reduced to fish shit in the bottom of the ocean. The most loyal in the group speaks up, “Um…err…he was a fierce tribal warrior! Yeah, yeah…that’s right…he was so big and strong!”

Because of Noel’s genius as a writer and filmmaker, I’m sticking to this story as historical fact.  It has more pizazz.

Anyway, the Spaniards came back a few years later, this time bringing with them mean chubby friars and converted everyone into guilt-ridden Christians. They overstayed their welcome for more than 300 years.

That’s how ‘Shit, coño dude!’ came to be.


18 comments:

  1. Very amusing! Who knew history can have so much chutzpah?

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  2. Do you know that that the US public school teaches that Magellan did in fact die because of a disease he caught on the ship en route back to Spain? How odd, right?

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    1. Way! I read that in another blog somewhere. Your friend was not off.

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  3. My cousin who lives in the West Coast said the same thing! She even tried to correct her teacher saying it was a Pinoy native who killed Magellan. Of course the teacher didn't believe her. You know naman these Kano's, baka they think sila din pumatay kay Magellan. Lahat nalang ng history dapat kasama sila, pambihira...

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  4. I don't understand why they would teach such false information. I take offence in that particularly because I am a native of Cebu, where Lapu-Lapu is from. Personalan na! haha

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    1. So the city of Lapu-lapu in Cebu was named after the warrior and not the fish! (ah, duhrr!) I have to visit the island one of these days!

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  5. Interesting take on our history! I didnt know that Magellan had a limp. Is that real or part of your wonderful world of jazzed up truth? *LOL* If it is, it's no wonder he got his butt kicked. Did you see the pecs on that native dude Lapulapu? Not one of those white boys stood a chance, boi!

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  6. I was thinking the exact same thing! We really know so little about Lapulapu that I doubt even his visual representations in textbooks. I am Cebuano, and we even erected his shrine in Mactan being the 1st Filipino hero. I guess some beki designed it and used his sexual frustrations to create this tall, enormous, hot looking, headband-wearing, spear-carrying bronze adonis sculpture. Which is odd because native Filipinos in that era were short. More like a shrimp. Hmm.
    But yes, Magellan's limp is fact-based. Those Españols are better at documentation.

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  7. ...hereafter Bebsy's unparalleled love and devotion for the whole Spanish futbol team was born.... and she and Xabi Alonso lived happily ever after!
    Now that's a happy ending to a battle between the Spain and the Philippines!! Your blog. Your story. Intiendes?

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    1. I like the way you think, my friend. :-)

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  8. Who the frigg is XabiWanKenobi?

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    1. Non of your beezwax. Get off my blog!!

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  9. Now why can't all history books be written this way?

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  10. My favourite line:“Um…err…he was a fierce tribal warrior! Yeah, yeah…that’s right…he was so big and strong!”
    HAHAHAHAHA! Magellan reduced to fish shit! So funny!
    First time I enjoyed a history lesson.
    Gracie bella!

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  11. Replies
    1. a vulgar expression used in a mocking manner that sweet girls like you shouldn't say..

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