As the nation commemorated the 496th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan, Senator Richard Gordon called on Filipinos to be modern-day Lapu-Lapus and fight harder to free the country from illegal drugs, killings, corruption and other crimes.
Gordon pointed out that Lapu-Lapu, the ruler of Mactan, was the first Asian to defeat the colonial invaders from the West after he and his warriors overpowered and defeated a Spanish force fighting for Rajah Humabon of Cebu, under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed in the battle.
“Lapu-Lapu, even 496 years ago, refused to be cowed into bowing to the colonial invaders and instead fearlessly chose to battle with them. He and his warriors defeated the invaders despite their superior weapons. His monument in Bagumbayan or Rizal Park has even been tagged as Asia’s Sentinel of Freedom. Hence, like Lapu-Lapu, we must rise up against illegal drugs, killings, corruption and other crimes that have invaded our country. Let us borrow courage from Lapu-Lapu and ensure that we defeat the invaders,” he said.
In a related development, Gordon has filed a bill proposing to change the rays of the sun on the Philippine flag from eight to nine to symbolize the community of Muslim leaders who defended the country throughout history.
“With their bravery, our Muslim heroes left an imprint on national history that, at the very least, must be given due recognition in the most heraldic item of national importance the Philippine flag. They are our forgotten heroes, and through this proposal we seek to inculcate in the minds and hearts of our people a just pride in their native Muslim brothers who sacrificed their lives for the country’s freedom,” he said.
The Philippine flag is designed with the mythical sun (with a face) common to many former Spanish colonies; the triangle of Masonry; and three stars representing the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
The eight rays represent the first eight provinces that revolted and were placed under martial law by the Spaniards during the start of the Philippine Revolution in 1896, namely: Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac.
Aside from Lapu-Lapu, among the most valiant soldiers were Sultan Kudarat, who united the Muslim clans in Cotobato, Lanao, and Basilan, and ruled for 50 years. He led many raids and battles against the Spanish from 1634 up to 1668 and inspired the Maranaos to oppose the building of a Spanish fort near Lake Lanao. There was also the story of Sirongan, the Rajah of Buayan, who successfully pushed back the enemy into the coast of Rio Grande, thwarting the first Spanish attempt to colonize Buayan. There were Kaliph Pulaka, Datu Amai Pakpak, Kapitan Laut Buisan, Sultan Jamalu’l Alani, Sultan Muwallil Wasit, Paduka Batara and Panginan Sarikula, who all fearlessly led their men in battles against the Spanish.
“I first filed this bill in 2009 as a unifying piece of legislation. Filipino Muslims were the first to fight foreign invaders and this bill seeks to give them due recognition as we have recognized heroes from other regions who valiantly fought foreign invaders. We almost got the bill passed in the Fourteenth Congress, it was passed on the third reading in the Senate and the second reading in the House of Representatives. I hope it will finally be passed into law this Congress,” Gordon said.