By Erik Espina
Under Presidential Proclamation 627, Series of 1995, September 3-10 was declared “Linggo ng Laang-Kawal,” or, loosely translated, National Reservist Week. The anniversary will, however, be celebrated this September 16 at Camp Aguinaldo by AFP Reservists with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs J-9 Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad hosting the affair.
Over a year ago, I submitted a 9-page, 23-point discussion paper on proposals to “friends” in Malacañang, regarding possible improvements on Reservists and Citizen Armed Force development. Heading the list is amending the Presidential Proclamation to April 21-27 to observance of the victory in Mactan by the seminal Filipino warrior Datu Lapu-Lapu. This is to honor and give tribute to what is today institutionally recognized by the AFP and the Reservists Family as the first recognized “Mamamayang Kawal” (citizen soldier) who made the “conquista” crown of Spain Kneel on native shores. This triumph, set in the back-drop of an armada of ships with cannons against bancas in the 1500s, saw armor versus loin-cloth, muskets against arrows and spears. The outcome would have been predictable — Hernan Cortes vanquishing the Mexican Aztecs in 1521, Francisco Pizarro versus the Incas of Peru in 1532 — if not for the cunning leadership of Rajah Humabon’s half-brother, Lapu-Lapu. The April 27, 1521, defeat of Spain’s “almasen,” Ferdinand Magellan, postponed the fall of the archipelago by 50 years until the Legazpi Expedition. While my Filipino-Muslim friends, proudly embrace Datu Lapu-Lapu as a brethren of Islam, Cebuano and Visayan history note him as an “animist” who believed in gods for the sea, air, etc. His adoptive father’s assignment was a combination of present-day harbor pilot, customs chief inspecting Chinese junks trading in Mactan, collecting tributes, and guardian against the surprise attacks of “slave raiders and traders.”
The issuance of a new proclamation to right history for reservists and citizen soldiers under a supportive administration is most apropos, and also that Lapu-Lapu Day be declared a provincial holiday. Many Cebuanos support such a move. And we know President Rodrigo Duterte is a staunch advocate of the hero’s legacy.