Kadaugan sa Mactan Celebrates the 500th Year of Christianity

The battle between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan was re-enacted in this year’s Kadaugan sa Mactan.
(Photo taken from Lapu-Lapu City PIO FB Page)

Kadaugan sa Mactan is a highly anticipated event that happens every year. This stage play depicts the intense clash between the Mactan soldiers and the Spaniards that occurred on April 27, 1521.

This timely presentation – performed in line with the anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines – attracts many viewers (especially Oponganons) eager to witness the spectacle.

The Lapu-Lapu City government carried on with the tradition this year, perfectly timing it with the closing of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the country.

To commemorate half a millennium of Christianity, the organizers hosted more social events like an art exhibit, a job fair, sports competitions, and concerts to urge more spectators to take part in the celebration.


Mactan Shrine, where the Battle of Mactan took place

The Statue of Datu Lapu-Lapu and the Magellan Marker stand as a reminder of the Battle of Mactan.

The Philippines was baptized into Christianity when the Spaniards – led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan – arrived on the island of Cebu in 1521.

Magellan and his men converted many of Cebu’s leaders, offering important religious documents and items like the Magellan’s Cross and the image of the Sto. Niño. However, one man did not heed his persuasion – Mactan’s village chief Datu Lapu-Lapu.

The chieftain’s refusal to convert posed a challenge for the explorer, forcing him to confront Lapu-Lapu by the seas of modern-day Punta Engaño. The bloody Battle of Mactan was between a group of iron-clad Spaniards and less armed tribal warriors.

Despite the disadvantage in weaponry, Lapu-Lapu and his men used an improvised arsenal of spears, swords, and bows that overpowered the Spaniards into submission. This use of what one might call primitive weapons is the earliest form of the Filipino martial art known as Kali (locally known as Arnis and Escrima).

Ferdinand Magellan died after getting hit by a stray arrow, forcing his men to retreat and end the first attempt at colonization in the Philippines.

The Liberty Shrine is one of the most popular historical sites in the Philippines, commemorating the Battle of Mactan.

A statue of Lapu-Lapu stands at the Liberty Shrine – the exact location of the clash and one of the most famous historical shrines in the Philippines.

A monument dedicated to Ferdinand Magellan is also located inside the park, commemorating his conversion of Cebu to Christianity.

Since 1981, the shrine has been the venue for the Kadaugan sa Mactan event, bringing in hundreds of viewers to the cultural phenomenon.


Kadaugan sa Mactan portrays the Battle of Mactan with a blend of dancing and acting.
(Photos from Lapu-Lapu City PIO FB Page)

The re-enactment of the battle is performed in the morning or during a high tide every year on April 27.

Local talent portrays the roles of Lapu-Lapu, Reyna Bulakna, and Magellan – sometimes tapping actors from local TV shows and movies.

In 2006, world-class boxer Manny Pacquiao portrayed Lapu-Lapu, while his wife Jinkee played Reyna Bulakna.

The play starts with the planting of the Magellan’s Cross and ends with the victory of Lapu-Lapu and his men. Magellan and the Spaniards arrive through the sea at the shrine.

The intense action scenes and opportunity to see local celebrities have brought in many viewers every year, becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mactan.

In 2022, the performance had a different setup. Instead of using the beach near the Liberty Shrine, the dancing and acting scenes were performed under a tent near the Lapu-Lapu monument.

It was also presented from late afternoon to early evening instead of in the morning.

During the event, the story remained unchanged from previous Kadaugan sa Mactan performances, in which they addressed the bravery of the early Cebuanos and the downfall of the heavily armed Spaniards.

One key moment portrayed in the performance was the burning of Bulaia, a rather unpopular raid that happened before the Battle of Mactan. Here, Magellan ordered the burning of Bulaia – present-day Buaya – which affected over 50 residents. This tragic raid was the moment that sparked the brutal final battle.

It also featured a very special guest.

(Third photo from Lapu-Lapu City PIO FB Page)

The event was graced by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who gave a speech commemorating one of Cebu’s first victories.

Duterte was also in Cebu for the inauguration of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway – the third bridge that connects mainland Cebu to the island of Mactan through the municipality of Cordova. The bridge was opened to the public on April 30, 2022.

The event brought in hundreds of Oponganons who wanted to see the yearly celebration unfold, even resisting the heat of the sun to wait for the performances and a chance to see the Philippine president.

Hundreds of Lapu-Lapu City residents await the event performances.


The 2022 celebration provided more activities to interest a number of spectators.

The Lapu-Lapu City Visual Artist Group organized the Mactan Art Fest at the Island Central Mall.

The Lapu-Lapu City Visual Artist Group held the inaugural Mactan Art Fest from April 22 to 24 at the Island Central Mall and from April 30 to May 1 at the Mactan Shrine.

It featured over 40 artists from all over Mactan, all of whom showcased original sketches and paintings. The event also featured henna tattoo sessions, live sketching, and souvenirs for visitors to bring home.

The second leg of the exhibit was held at the Liberty Shrine, which took place from April 30 to May 1.

Cebuano rock bands like Missing Filemon, Juan Paasa, Phylum, and many more also performed a concert at the Hoops Dome on April 23, 2022.

As the Philippines celebrates its 500th year of Christianity, Kadaugan sa Mactan will continue to host several activities to remind us of one of Cebu’s most important victories. Every year, this glorious event signifies the bravery and courage of Cebuanos against foreign rule, exhibiting the love and passion we have for our own home and country.

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