‘500 years of Christianity and Lapu-Lapu’s heroism’

Filipinos will commemorate and observe two major historical events in 2021.

The first of these events is the 500th anniversary of the first Roman Catholic mass that was celebrated in the Philippines on March 31, 1521.  The second event is the famous Battle of Mactan where the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by native warriors led by the Filipino chieftain Lapu-Lapu.

These events hopefully will renew Filipino pride and patriotism, including the Filipino people’s understanding of their Christian faith, its teachings, and its doctrines.

As early as 2012, the Roman Catholic Church, through the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has launched a nine-year plan for the 2021 jubilee in connection with the arrival and introduction of Christianity in the Philippines.

To connect the people to the challenges that the Church is facing and to prepare its faithful for 2021, the CBCP’s “nine-year journey for the new evangelization” has a different theme every year for Filipino Catholics to think about, to reflect, and to focus on.

The challenges for the Catholic Church are harder and tougher since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in 2016.

Duterte’s attacks and tirades against the Catholic Church have been regular parts of his speeches and talks.  The “Duterte doctrine” calls and labels the church as “the most hypocritical institution” in the entire Philippines.

I still wonder how Filipino Catholics can accept Duterte’s anti-Catholic messages?  Based on recent surveys, Duterte’s popularity and appeal among his constituents is still very high despite his tirades against the faith followed by the Filipino majority.

The Philippine president’s wrath is not only against the Catholic bishops and priests who are opposed to extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, and the violence that is happening nationwide in the name of the “war on drugs.”  Duterte has insulted the religious faith of the Filipino majority as well by calling their God “stupid.”  And many Catholics who trooped to the streets and celebrated in 2015 during the pastoral visit of Pope Francis, where “mercy and compassion” was the theme, surprisingly voted for and support Duterte despite the EJKs and the violence that his “drug war” has brought upon to the country’s poor and slum dwellers.

I really wonder how the Philippines will celebrate and commemorate Christianity’s Jubilee Year in 2021 under Duterte’s rule since his term of office does not end until June 30, 2022.

Can one reconcile “Thou shall not kill” with support for EJKs?

For the second major event in the Philippines in 2021, Filipinos will observe the the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan.  Lapu-Lapu is hailed as the first Filipino hero because he was the first Filipino leader to resist foreign dominance and colonization and this took place in Mactan almost 500 years ago.

The Battle of Mactan happened at dawn on April 27, 1521.  In that battle, another native leader by the name of Rajah Humabon welcomed and infamously sided with Ferdinand Magellan who plotted to conquer Lapu-Lapu.  I can only say “OMG” to this because that early, Filipinos already got their exposure to the two types of leaders that they can have— the collaborators who are pro-foreign invaders and those who resist and fight for Philippine independence, freedom, and sovereignty.  Why do we continue to ignore the great lesson from this historical event?

I hope that Filipinos will reflect and get inspiration from these two major events— and finally learn lessons from these— as we continue our journey as a people and as a nation.  Definitely, we do not need the Rajah Humabons of the Philippines to lead the country.


Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.