Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines
The 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines are a collective celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan, the Philippine portion of the first circumnavigation of the globe, and several other related events. For this purpose, the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) was created, following Executive Order no. 55, s. 2018.
The milestones being celebrated are the 500th anniversary of the Philippine part in the first circumnavigation of the globe, from 16 March 2021 to 28 October 2021, and the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan on 27 April 2021. In addition, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is presiding over a celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity being introduced in the country.
Victory at Mactan
The official term used for the quincentennial celebration of the Battle of Mactan is the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan, as per Executive Order no. 103 (s. 2020). “Victory” was set as a theme of the celebration, according to the NQC, because “Victory represents Lapulapu and his men’s triumph that transcends to our generation. This also represents how the gallantry and the spirit of freedom of our ancestors and forebears determined our destiny and history.”
Lapulapu and other native inhabitants who were there in 1521 did not consider themselves Filipinos, as they existed before the concept of the Philippines as a country or the formation of the Filipino identity. Thus, some scholars have observed that Lapulapu and his fighters could not be said to have fought for the Philippines. However, as Filipinos of today are descended from these early inhabitants, the commemorations aim to “celebrate their ideals, sacrifices, struggles…. By assimilating them into our national imagination, we are rescuing them from oblivion and colonial prejudices.”
Even though some accounts suggest the possibility that Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula had arrived in the archipelago even before the Christian ones did, the arrival of the Magellan-Elcano expedition on 16 March 1521 is generally seen as the beginning of the relationship between Spain and what would eventually become the Philippine Islands.
Historians like Gregorio Zaide have argued that describing the events of 1521 as Magellan’s “discovery” of the Philippines was to present Philippine history from the Spanish point of view and ignore the fact that native people with their own distinct culture had already existed in the islands for centuries before Magellan landed. Historian Ambeth Ocampo proposed that the modern Filipino point of view of Philippine history should be simply that Magellan “arrived in” the Philippines in 1521.
The National Quincentennial Committee, in its stated intention to promote a Filipino-centric point of view, terms the event as a commemoration not of the “arrival” of Magellan nor the “discovery” of the Philippines by Spain, but as the Philippine part in the first circumnavigation of the globe.
Christianity in the Philippines
The 500th anniversary of the first mass held in the Philippines will be on 31 March 2021. While over the years there has been contention that the site of the first mass in the country was Butuan rather than Limasawa, many historians have concluded—based on the credible sources and on a site survey of the Limasawa hill and the Agusan estuary—that the first mass was indeed held in Limasawa.
More than four decades after the first mass in 1521, Spain’s Catholic evangelization in the Philippines commenced in earnest following the arrival of Fray Andres de Urdaneta with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s expedition in 1565. Almost 30 years later, in 1591, there were 140 missionaries present in the country, ministering to over 660,000 people. By 1598, the Augustinian order alone had erected 40 churches in the country.
Series of Events and Celebrations
The Quincentennial Commemoration also aims to:
- promote local and national tourism
- reignite Filipino nationalism
- inculcate values
- strengthen the community’s social cohesiveness
- intensify social awareness
- foster Filipino creativity for socioeconomic growth
Institutions Behind the Quincentennial Commemoration
|Event name||Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines||500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines|
|Theme||Victory and Humanity||Gifted to Give|
Wriiten by Roel Rostata
Arranged by Jungee Marcelo
|“Live Christ! Share Christ!”
Written by Archbishop Soc Villegas
Composed by Ryan Cayabyab
|Coverage||500th anniversaries of the first circumnavigation of the world (Philippine part: 16 March- 28 October 2021; Worldwide 2019-2022), Victory at Mactan (27 April 2021- MAIN EVENT), and other related events in 1521||500th anniversary of the Easter Sunday Mass (Easter Sunday 2021), First Baptism in Cebu (14 April 2021- MAIN EVENT), and the presentation of Santo Niño de Cebu|
- Chairperson: Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Office of the President of the Philippines
- Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director: Dr. Rene R. Escalante, Chairperson, National Historical Commission of the Philippines
- Member|Department of Interior and Local Government: Jonathan Malaya, Undersecretary for Plans, Public Affairs and Communication
- Member|Department of National Defense: LtGen. Reynaldo Magapu, AFP (Ret.), Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans, and Retiree Affairs
- Member|Department of Foreign Affairs: Ernesto C. Abella, Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research
- Member|Department of Education: Annalyn M. Sevilla, Undersecretary for Finance-Budget and Performance Monitoring
- Member|Presidential Communications Operations Office: Ramon L. Cualoping III, Director-General, Philippine Information Agency
- Member|National Commission for Culture and the Arts: Al Ryan S. Alejandre, Executive Director
- Member|Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Visayas: Anthony Gerard Y. Gonzales, Assistant Secretary
- Member|Department of Public Works and Highways: Engr. Antonio V. Molano, Jr., CESO III, Assistant Secretary for Regiional Operations in the Visayas, NCR, and Region IV-B
- Member|Department of Tourism: Roberto P. Alabado III, Assistant Secretary for Tourism Development Planning
- Member|Department of Budget and Management: Mary Anne Z. Dela Vega, Director for Budget and Management Bureau-B
- Secretariat|National Historical Commission of the Philippines
- Secretariat|Carminda R. Arevalo, Officer-in-Charge, Officer of the Executive Director
- Secretariat|Rosario V. Sapitan, Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Administration
- Secretariat|Alvin R. Alcid, Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Projects
- Secretariat|Gina C. Batuhan, Chief, Historic Sites and Education Division
- Secretariat|Ar. Reynaldo S. Lita, Head of the Secretariat and the Technical Working Group for Infrastructures
- Secretariat|Ian Christopher B. Alfonso, Senior History Researcher and In-Charge of Quincentennial Commemorative Events
- Secretariat|Ayesha H. Sayseng, Historic Sites Development Officer II
- Secretariat|Gerwill I. Cruz, Museum Researcher II
- Secretariat|Josef Alec D. Geradila, History Researcher II
- Secretariat|Mark Kiven G. Oriendo, Museum Technician I (Administrative)
List of Events
- January 1- December 1: Quincentennial Film Project
- January 6: Deadline of submission to the Quincentennial Art Competition and Lapulapu National Monument Design Competition
- January 6: Lighting of the Biggest LED Solar Light-Powered Rosary in the World (Tribute to the Frontliners) at Rizal Park, Manila
- January 13: 15th Countdown to 500 Online Lecture Series: Reading and Appreciating Spanish Archival Documents by Dr. Francis Navarro
- January 17: 100-Day Countdown to the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines at Liberty Shrine, Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City
- January 17: Declaration of the Liberty Shrine as Site of Permanent Display of the Philippine Flag
- January 21: 7th Road to 500 with Representative Loren Legarda: Our Ancestors in Philippine Textile Patterns
- January 27: 16th Countdown to 500 Online Lecture Series: Bishop Domingo de Salazar, OP and the Defense of the Natives
- February 10: 17th Countdow to 500 Online Lecture Series: Goodwill, Tolerance, and Deception: The Role of Food in the Battle of Mactan by Felice Prudente Sta. Maria
- February 24: 18th Countdown to 500 Online Lecture Series: “Magellan: A Tragic Hero” by Dr. Danilo Gerona
- February 26: Announcement of Winners: Quincentennial Art Competition and Lapulapu National Monument Design Competition
- March 5: 19th Countdown to 500 Online Lecture Series: “The War God of Homonhon and the Arrival of Magellan” by Dr. George Emmanuel Borrinaga
- March 16: Beginning of the 500th Anniversary of the Philippine Part in the First Circumnavigation of the World
- March 24-26: Visitation of the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano (Cebu and Manila), Cebu
- March 18- October 28: Marking of the Thirty-four Sites of the Philippine Route of the Magellan-Elcano Expedition; Visayas, Palawan, and Mindanao
- March 28-Apri 7: Mundo Magallanes-Elcano: International Meeting of Performing Arts (Cebu City); Fort San Pedro, Cebu City
- April 14: Lighting of the Cebu-Cordoba Link Expressway; CCLEX, Cebu City
- April 27: Quincentennial Evening Show and Inauguration of the Newly Restored Metropolitan Theater
- April 27: Quincentennial Military Parade; Liberty Shrine, Lapu-Lapu City
- April 27: Quincentennial TV Special; All TV Networks
- April 27: 500th Anniversary of the Victory at Mactan Commemorative Rites, Lapu-Lapu City
- June 23-24: International Conference on Contacts and Continuities: 500 Years of Asian-Iberian Encounters; Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City
- October 20-22: Philippine International Quincentennial Conference
- “Events”.National Quincentennial Committee.(Accessed on 2 February 2021).
- “About the Commemorations”.National Quincentennial Committee.(Accessed on 2 February 2021).
- “About the Commemorations,” 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines, accessed 19 February 2021, https://nqc.gov.ph/en/about/.
- Jorge Mojarro, “Caught between Lapulapu, Magellan, and Elcano: Sincere Tribulations of a Philippine Hispanista on the Occasion of the Quincentennial,” in More Hispanic Than We Admit 3: Quincentennial Edition, 1521–1820 (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2020), 17.
- “About the Commemorations.”
- Isaac Donoso Jimenez, “Al-Andalus and Asia: Ibero-Asian Relations before Magellan,” in More Hispanic Than We Admit: Insights into Philippine Cultural History, ed. Isaac Donoso (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2008).
- María Dolores Elizalde, “Magellan Arrived in the Philippines: Interpretations of Philippine History,” in More Hispanic Than We Admit 3: Quincentennial Edition, 1521–1820 (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2020), viii.
- Mojarro, “Caught between Lapulapu, Magellan, and Elcano,” 24–25.
- Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, “Transformative Interventions: Influences of Pioneering Hispano-Christian Evangelization in the Philippines, 1565–1665,” in More Hispanic Than We Admit 3: Quincentennial Edition, 1521–1820 (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2020), 225.