Filipinos Slam ‘Elcano and Magellan’ Animated Film for Villianizing Local Hero, Lapu-Lapu

Filipinos hit hard against the producers of the Elcano & Magellan: The First Journey Around the WorldScreenshot of one of the frames from Elcano and Magellan

Filipinos slammed the release of the animated film, entitled Elcano and Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World for its portrayal of the local hero, Lapu-Lapu. Online comments against the film allege the production of historical revisionism and glorifying colonialism. 

The Elcano and Magellan animated film is produced by Dibulitoon Studio, a leading animation production house in Spain’s Basque Country together with Bilbao-based distribution-production company Barton Films. It tells the story of Portugal’s Fernando Magellan and Basque Juan Sebastián Elcano. The two became the first navigators to circumvent the Earth during their voyage that commenced in 1521. 

However, the film becomes controversial because of its portrayal of the local hero Lapu-Lapu, who in the movie appeared to be the villain who killed Ferdinand Magellan. Both Magellan and Elcano arrived in Mactan, Cebu, on March 16, 1521, as part of their voyage to import spices. The tribe led by Lapu-Lapu, a local chieftain, resisted the colonization agenda of the Portugues that led to the famous Battle of Mactan. The tribe managed to kill Magellan and drive the invaders away from the island and became the first documented successful resistance of pre-colonial Filipinos against Spanish and Portugues colonizers. 

“It’s time to embark on one of the most thrilling adventures of all time, the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe in human history! A trip that ended in the same place it began, but after which nothing would ever be the same again,” reads the synopsis of the film.

“This is the story of the brave seafarers who grabbed the helm of history and changed its course forever. A journey which, as many people know, was started by Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed by Lapu-Lapu and his men from the Philippines at the battle of Mactan, but that not so many knows was concluded by Juan Sebastian Elcano.”

Filipinos online quickly questioned the movie for glorifying the colonization of the Philippines. Spanish invaders colonized the Southeast Asian country for more than 300 years after Magellan’s voyage. Many have lambasted the film for portraying Lapu-Lapu as a villain and for its inaccurate depiction of pre-colonial Filipinos. 

One viral Facebook post by CRYSTALSKY MULTIMEDIA, thousands of comments have been made accusing the movie of bastardization of Philippine history. As of writing, the post has already garnered 1,300 comments and 8,400 shares. 

“Y’all looking at a movie that honors the bastardization of the Filipinos. Bakit kayo excited, mga hunghang [crazy]. They used our culture as a movie item. Be insulted. Lapu Lapu is made to look like a villain when the Spaniards were the villains. Also, they’re profiting from this. We weren’t asked, we weren’t consulted,” one comment reads. 

Some even likened it to how Disney has portrayed the story of Pocahontas in its popular animated film. “We’re judging because this movie sounds like a Pocahontas reboot of the historical event,” one commenter chimed in.

“Ya know? Pocahontas, the movie where a supposedly ten-year-old child became an adult and fell in love with John Smith, a man she mostly never approached?”

The movie is expected to be released in January 2020 in anticipation of the 500-year anniversary of Magellan and Elcano’s voyage in 2021. 

Updated: 10:02 a.m.

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