Lapu-Lapu Day in the Philippines Date in the current year: April 27, 2024

Lapu-Lapu Day in the Philippines Lapu-Lapu Day (Araw ni Lapu-Lapu) is a special working holiday celebrated in the Philippines on April 27 every year. It commemorates the victory of a datu (chieftain) of the island of Mactan over Spaniards in the 1521 Battle of Mactan.

Lapu-Lapu, or Lapulapu, was a datu (ruler, or chieftain) of Mactan, an island in the Philippine archipelago, when the Spanish first arrived in the region. He was one of the two datus of the island, the other being Zula. When the Spanish led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the service of the Spanish crown arrived in Mactan in March 1521, they ordered the datus to provide food for the Spanish and to convert to Christianity. Datu Zula obeyed and sent one of his sons with gifts for Magellan and his crew, whereas Datu Lapu-Lapu refused to pledge fealty to Spain.

Datu Zula and Rajah Humabon of Cebu suggested that Magellan subdue Lapu-Lapu by force. On April 27, 1521, Magellan led a force of around 60 Spaniards and 20 to 30 karakoa (warships) of Humabon’s men to Mactan. Despite arriving under the cover of night, Magellan’s men were met by Lapu-Lapu and about 1,500 warriors armed with bows and arrows, throwing spears, and even sticks and stones.

Magellan’s landing party was surrounded by the natives, who attacked them from the front and both flanks. Even though the Spaniards were mostly protected from the attack by heavy armor and there were only a handful of fatalities, Spanish troops were heavily demoralized. Magellan once again offered not to attack if Lapu-Lapu agreed to swear fealty to Rajah Humabon and the Spanish king, as well as paid tribute, but Lapu-Lapu once again rejected his offer.

In the morning, Magellan told Humabon’s men to stay in their boats and attacked Lapu-Lapu’s warriors with his heavily armed Spaniards. Outnumbered by furious natives and encumbered by their heavy armor, the Spaniards were quickly defeated. Magellan and a few of his men were killed in the battle, and the rest of the Spaniards escaped back to their ships.

Lapu-Lapu’s victory in the Battle of Mactan is believed to have delayed the Spanish colonization of the Philippines until the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565. Today, Datu Lapu-Lapu is retroactively recognized as the country’s first national hero to resist foreign conquest.

Statues to Lapu-Lapu were erected on Mactan and in Cebu City, and the city of Opon in the Province of Cebu was renamed after him in 1961. In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte created the Order of Lapu-Lapu, a presidential order of merit conferred in recognition for the invaluable or extraordinary service in relation to a campaign or advocacy of the President. Finally, the anniversary of the Battle of Mactan was declared Lapu-Lapu Day.

The bill designating April 27 as Lapu-Lapu Day was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in March 2018 and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 29, 2018. It is a special working public holiday throughout the Philippines and a special nonworking holiday in the city of Lapu-Lapu.

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Lapu-Lapu Day in the Philippines, holidays in the Philippines, Battle of Mactan, Datu Lapu-Lapu, observances in the Philippines