To the Hispanophobic Filipino historian

Just recently, Rappler published an opinion piece by historian Jorge Mojarro (also a Spanish language teacher at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila) regarding the Elcano And Magellan controversy. In the said article, Mojarro wrote:

Philippine schoolbooks of history seem to be written not to understand the past nor to stimulate critical thinking, but to feed the students with tones of blind patriotism. If young Filipinos were learning properly the history of their nation, they would have not gotten so angry on social media with the new Spanish cartoon entitled Elcano & Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, especially considering that nobody has seen it yet.

He was right on target. The culprit, indeed, is the current educational system that has already been structured to destroy the image of our country’s Spanish past to young students. At an early age, Filipinos have already been taught that we were invaded by Spain, that we were enslaved, that we were forced to become Christians, that the Spanish friars maligned us, that they have kept us ignorant, etc. etc. etc.

This is a form of brainwashing. Such allegations are not even substantiated by historical documents. But who exactly is to blame?

Our second guest blogger, Fr. Michell Joe “Jojo” Zerrudo (parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo) points out to the culprits: the Filipino pseudo-historians behind those schoolbooks that Mojarro was referring to. The following posts were taken from Fr. Jojo’s Facebook.

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Fr. Jojo may not be a historian. But he has what many Filipino historians today do not have: a piercing I.Q.

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“Elcano And Magellan” provokes careless comments

Netizens today are careless commenters. They comment brashly and prematurely before getting to know the meat of the story. But the same thing goes to news writers. They bait readers to get more clicks to their links, and in order to do that, they come up with some of the most obnoxious headlines.

The problem is that many netizens do not read beyond headlines.

This is what I realized after reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s story regarding a Spanish animated film that has not even been released yet. I am referring to “Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo” (Elcano: The First Voyage Around The World).

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The movie is being marketed in the country as “Elcano and Magellan” probably because Fernando de Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) is more (in)famous among Filipinos compared to Juan Sebastián Elcano who was actually the one who completed the first circumnavigation of the world. But as expected, the trailer and movie posters drew flak among netizens. And for obvious reasons. Here are just some of the vitriol that the movie, which will not be released until January 2020, has been receiving:

There’s an animated movie about Magellan and just… YIKESSSS. Stop depicting colonizers as good guys.

The title should be: ‘The beginning of 333 years of pain and suffering to all Filipinos.’

This movie should be banned in the country.

“U better not release this fucking film”

“Si magellan naging bida haha 👏👏👏 tapos si lapu-lupa kontra bida 👏”

Virtually thousands of similar comments in various social media platforms have been hounding this production by Dibulitoon Studio, an independent audiovisual production outfit based in Spain. The backlash prompted Atty. Lawrence Fortún, 1st District Representative of Agusan del Norte, to chime in. He allegedly called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban this film.

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The good thing that came out from this press release by Atty. Fortún was that it triggered supporters of the film and other level-minded netizens, many of whom are well-versed in Filipino History.

Upon reading one of the headlines from Inquirer (“Solon to MTRCB: Ban ‘Magellan’ movie for possible Lapu-Lapu slur” by Pathricia Ann V. Roxas, but I noticed that they already replaced “Ban” with “Review”), I thought of using Twitter to bash the said solon (I can be a mean troll at times 😂). But thankfully, I kept my composure and read the whole story first, as it should be done in the first place. Surprisingly, the gentleman from Butuán City was not calling for the film’s banning at all. He merely suggested that experts in Filipino History be tapped to review Elcano and Magellan to “provide a more in-depth perspective and ensure that the movie will not dishonor Lapu-Lapu’s rightful place in our collective memory.”

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From a Twitter exchange that I had with Hon. Rep. Fortún.

So now I guess the moral of the story is this: don’t judge brashly. Read the whole news right after reading the headlines before commenting. In the same vein, watch Elcano and Magellan first before coming up with a judgment.

Also, Inquirer’s headlines are click baits. 😂

Having said that, let me just add that Filipino have been unfair for years in treating all this Magallanes–Lapu-Lapu encounter. We have enshrined Lapu-Lapu to the highest pantheon of heroes without even having any in-depth knowledge of his history. To those who have been unkind towards Magallanes: have you even read the accounts of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magallanes Expedition? Magallanes, Elcano, and all the others who went with them were not exactly colonizers but explorers. During their time, many parts of the globe have not been explored. Their era, therefore, was known as the Age of Exploration. The people back then even thought that the world was flat, and that all sorts of sea monsters filled the unexplored oceans of the planet. The Magallanes Expedition during its time was equivalent to man’s first voyage to the Moon.

Also, not many people apparently are aware of Magallanes’s Catholic zeal, nor are they aware that Lapu-Lapu was not defending our country for the simple reason that it did not yet exist during his time. Does anyone here even know that Lapu-Lapu was not his real name, and that during the Spanish times, Magallanes was regarded highly by Filipinos?

Nevertheless, before I am depicted as an apologist for a movie that has not even been shown yet (although, admittedly, I really am), let me just caution readers that if it is fair for us to make films depicting Lapu-Lapu as a hero and Magallanes et al. as villains, why couldn’t Spain do the same for theirs? But more importantly, Elcano: La Primera Vuelta Al Mundo / Elcano and Magellan is not exactly a movie about the Battle of Mactán (Magallanes’s bloody resting place), for it seems that that battle is merely a footnote to the movie, as it really was to the Magallanes Expedition. The film is about the first circumnavigation of the globe, a human feat that has brought glory not only to Spain but to mankind. If the voyage to the Moon was mankind’s first giant leap, the first circumnavigation of the globe was mankind’s baby steps. As one famous rockstar put it, you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.

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