Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu: For God, Gold, Glory & Guitars
I was around 12 years old when I first went to Cebu – about the same time my interest in music and musical instruments grew. It was also the same time my dad bought my first Cebu-made acoustic guitar from a street vendor somewhere around Magellan’s Cross. Cebu and guitars – did you ever wonder why the two are very synonymous? The industry flourishes in the historic island of Mactan, according to good people I met during this journey, so that would be a good place to start in a conquest to uncover the mystery behind the relationship of stringed instruments and Queen City. Oh, and see historical sites while I’m at it.
A painting by Manuel Pañares depicting the historic Battle of Mactan between the natives led by Lapu-lapu and the Portuguese conquistadores Ferdinand Magellan. This painting can be seen at Fort San Pedro.
A fearsome warrior-king of many names sent a clear message to future invaders that God, Gold, and Glory are not welcome in his domain, Mactan Island. Datu Lapu-Lapu led an army of natives armed with bolo’s and bamboo spears against the well-equipped offensive force of Ferdinand Magellan. His triumph made the brave native a pioneer in Spanish resistance, thus, making him an important figure in history, even naming a city after him – Lapu-Lapu City.
Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Mactan.
Today, Lapu-lapu stands boldly in a form of a 20-metre bronze statue built in honor of the chieftain’s heroic deed. With a bolo clenched on his right hand and a shield on his left, he faces the sea like the great guardian of Mactan as he once was. In my opinion, Lapu-Lapu Shrine is not only a large chunk of metal dedicated to the hero of Mactan but also an embodiment of Filipino bravery in times of war but also in peace.
Shrine of Magellan.
Adjacent to Lapu-lapu’s statue is an obelisk dedicated to the chieftain’s nemesis, Ferdinand Magellan who spearheaded the conquest under the Spanish flag and died in the Battle of Mactan. Magellan Shrine was built in 1866 when Isabella II of Spain was queen, and Don Miguel Creus was the current governor, thus, the names, “1866 Reinando Ysabel II” in honor of the Spanish Queen, and “Siendo Gobernador don Miguel Creus”, politico military governor of Cebu, were inscribed in the four-sided monument along with “A Hernando de Magallanes”, the Portuguese name of Magellan. On one face “Glorias Españolas” is written which means, “Spanish glory”.
Sto Niño de Cebu-Mactan Parish Church
Sto Niño de Cebu-Mactan Parish Church may not be as old as its Cebu City counterparts but Lapu-Lapu City’s very own holds a distinguishable figure unlike many other churches in the entire country. In contrary with baroque church architectures in the country, Mactan’s features a church resembling a morion, the type of helmet worn by Magellan and many Spanish conquistadores (or maybe that’s how I think it is). The church, built in 1996, was designed by Cañizares Architects, a Cebu-based architectural firm responsible for designing many infrastructures in Cebu including Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Standard-sized guitars, junior guitars and 14-stringed bandurrias of Alegre Guitar Factory.
Pajac-Maribago Road in Lapu-Lapu City is home to several rock stars in Cebu’s guitar-making industry – among the trade leaders are the highly-skilled craftspeople (and musicians) of Alegre Guitar Factory. Three generations of manufacturing led to the perfection and innovation of making and designing globally-competitive stringed instruments using locally available raw materials. Alegre Guitar Factory have exported their top quality products and met the standards of many high-end guitars in the international market.
Skilled guitar-maker of Alegre.
When the Spanish occupied the Philippines, specifically Cebu, musically-inclined friars packed their robes and bibles along with guitars and stringed instruments. The problem was, when their instruments required repairs, they have to ship it back to Mexico and wait. Some Spanish friars just can’t live without their flamenco, so they instructed the townsfolk of Opon (now Lapu-Lapu City) how to repair and manufacture guitar. I’m not sure if both parties managed to live happily ever after, but that was how the long-lasting relationship of guitars and Cebuano’s came upon.
If we were to alter the course of history, imagine if the Spaniards conquered the Philippines with music instead of crosses and swords. Maybe Magellan and friends play Spanish flamenco. Lapu-lapu and wife, on the other hand, passionately dance to the eerie sound of Phyrigian mode, while spectators threw gold coins in appreciation. Now wouldn’t that be glorious? I think God would love it.
My very own Alegre guitalele (a hybrid of a ukelele and a six-string guitar). This is my new travel gear and I got it for P900.00.
Fast facts that may help you in your trip:
1. Lapu-Lapu City is in Mactan same as the airport. But if in my case, let’s say coming from SM Cebu City, here are the multicabs numbers I rode: #01k (SM City Cebu to Parkmall) then I transferred to #23D (Parkmall to Engano) and got off at Mactan Shrine Park.
There are probably better ways in commuting but I’m still trying to figure out ways to go around Metro Cebu. If in doubt, take a taxi.
2. FREE ENTRANCE to Mactan Shrine (that’s where Magellan’s monument is located as well). There are souvenir shops within the area but prices might be a bit more expensive.
3. Sto Niño de Cebu-Mactan Parish Church is in front of Mactan Newtown. It’s a tricycle ride away from Mactan Shrine, but you could walk. I did.
4. I somehow forgot the multicab number to Alegre Guitar Factory, but it’s in front of Mactan Shrine, a multicab that has a “Maribago” signage. Then I told the driver I’ll get off at Pajac. From Pajac, there’s a tricycle to Alegre.
5. Alegre Guitar Factory is located at Pajac Abuno, 6015, Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines.
6. More destinations in Cebu.
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9. Happy travels.