Social has been on fire recently with the reveal of Elcano & Magellan. 

The animated film seems to be a kid-friendly reimagining of the adventures of explorers Juan Sebastián Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan. Apparently, it was produced to celebrate the 500th anniv of the circumnavigation of the globe.

Filipinos have already lambasted the project in various ways, all of which boil down to a consensus: Colonizers are not heroes and Lapu-Lapu isn’t a villain.




This isn’t the first flick this year that captured the ire of Filipinos. Dreamworks’ Abominable was exiled from local cinemas for a scene which validates Beijing’s controversial ‘nine-dash-line’.

But how exactly do films that offend an entire nation get made? And just how inaccurate is Elcano & Magellan?

Perspective matters

First, we have to recognize who’s telling the story. Elcano & Magellan was produced by Spain-based animation company Dibulitoon Studio.

It’s no surprise then, that Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano is depicted in a better light as discount Flynn Rider, rather than the mutinous captain that he originally was.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism
They’re practically twins – sort of.

Magellan, who is Portuguese, is portrayed as a determined and revered explorer, instead of the slave-owning navigator who jumpstarted 333 years of colonization for the Philippines.

Conversely, the trailer depicts our very own Lapu Lapu as a savage, complete with a caveman-like grunt. This goes against descriptions of pre-colonized PH, which boasted high literacy rates and an advanced, functioning society.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism
Lapu Lapu shouts ‘A-TUH-KI’.

Here’s a simple truth: The history that we know depends on the perspective of the storyteller.

In this instance, Elcano & Magellan was made from the eyes of foreigners, who may or may not have heard of an alternate version of what actually went down in Mactan.

It’s no different from the recollections of Spanish chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, regarding Magellan’s death:

‘..they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats.’

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism
Amusing Planet

In Pigafetta’s eyes, Filipinos outright killed his beloved leader, who spent his last moments making sure his men were safely off the shore. Pigafetta didn’t talk about Magellan being a colonist asshole, which Magellan rightfully was.

Speaking of perspectives…

Lapu Lapu’s ‘heroism’

Often dubbed as the ‘first national hero’, Lapu Lapu was the stuff of legends. He often attacked trading ships that entered his territory, earning him the name mangatang (pirate), which later evolved into ‘Mactan’.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism

Also, per prominent Bicolano historian Dr. Danilo Madrid Gerona, Lapu Lapu wasn’t opposed to colonization. In fact, he already agreed to pay tributes to the Spanish Crown through Magellan.

He only flipped his shit when the Magellan demanded him to submit to rival chieftain, Rajah Humabon. Lap refused, the Battle of Mactan happened, and a ‘hero’ was born.

Turns out, Lap’s iconic middle finger to colonizers was less of a heroic act and more of a pissing contest between two opposing leaders. Plus, he would’ve been around 70-ish at that time, so him personally fighting, let alone killing Magellan, would’ve been a stretch.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism
Lapu Lapu, Battle of Mactan, colorized

But despite his questionable motives, Lapu-Lapu STILL decided to stand up to a foreign aggressor – which is probably what Filipinos find to be truly relatable.

The idea that a small, unassuming nation took no shits from outside influences, forging their own identity in the process, is the stuff #PinoyPride stories are made of. It’s the type of ballsy move that’s severely lacking nowadays *cough* Duterte *cough*.

And with Lapu-Lapu being the personification of that sentiment, the Mactan ‘hero’ will continue to be revered for decades to come, inaccuracies and all.

Final word

Yay, you made it to the end. Props for not being a headline reader. And for not ditching halfway so you could write an essay about how dumb this article supposedly is.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism

Now, where were we? Oh, yeah.

Elcano & Magellan looks to be an insensitive, glossed-over recount of a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, one that sparked countless atrocities against our ancestors. That much is true.

But with the pvblic outcry over the inaccuracy of this foreign retelling, it’s also vital that we are just as equally critical and aware of the falsehood of our local stories too. Yes, Elcano & Magellan were far from prince charmings, but let’s not act like Lapu-Lapu was the warrior patriot our history classes built him up to be.

Using him to denounce the film is fighting falsehood with false news. Let’s not do that.

Fuck the film, tho. Let’s all agree on that.

Magellan, ‘Elcano & Magellan’ is inaccurate – but so is Lapu Lapu’s heroism