Filipinos blast animated film ‘Elcano and Magellan’ for depicting colonizers as heroes

Elcano and Magellan Screengrab <I>Photo: Dibulitoon / Vimeo</I>
Elcano and Magellan Screengrab Photo: Dibulitoon / Vimeo

Not taking kindly to colonizers being depicted as heroes, Filipinos took to Twitter today to express disgust and extreme disapproval of the upcoming animated film Elcano and Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, after its local film distributor announced that the Spanish-produced movie will be screening in Philippine cinemas in January 2020.

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The film’s lead characters — Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano — set out on their maiden voyage to explore the world and their last stop, or at least Magellan’s last stop, was the Philippines. (Nearly-500-year-old spoiler alert: Magellan died; Elcano ultimately managed to make it back to Spain.)

Quick brush-up on Philippine history: Filipinos don’t like Magellan. Not since the Portuguese explorer claimed to have “discovered” the Philippines on March 16, 1521 on his way to the Spanish Isle of Moluccas searching for spices. Following some back-and-forth with indigenous rulers, a party of troops led by Magellan were met in battle at the Philippine island of Mactan by the native resistance led by Lapu-Lapu, the local chieftain.

Lapu-Lapu’s forces killed Magellan and repelled his attack, and the expedition departed the Philippines shortly thereafter under Elcano’s command. However, Magellan’s “discovery” prompted the Spanish to colonize the Philippines for over three centuries, leading to the exploitation and enslavement of its natives, and the forcible replacement of existing traditions through conversion to Catholicism — plus the introduction of some really sleazy priests (as recorded in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere).

Back in the present day, Elcano and Magellan‘s teaser trailer, posted by Spanish producers Filmax and Dibulitoon in March, suggests that it may be taking several creative liberties in spinning a kid-friendly historical account. It features Elcano and Magellan approaching Philippine shores, with Elcano appearing to develop a love interest with a female character from the island.

Its film poster drew ire over a blurb that read: “Elcano and Magellan, the first voyage around the world with [the] Philippines very own hero Lapu-Lapu.” Written on the side is “FEATURING the battle at Mactan between Magellan and Lapu-Lapu.”

Local film distributor Crystal Sky Multimedia has locked its Twitter account but left up one Facebook post that attempted to put a decidedly pro-Filipino gloss on the tale. The poster invites everyone to “witness the bravery of our very own Lapu-Lapu” — a spin that drew both amused and miffed reactions online.

Photo: Crystal Sky Multimedia / FB

One Facebook commenter (whose username was written in native Baybayin characters) wrote, “Just accept it. There’s no way you can make this movie appealing to Filipinos. It’s like, ‘Look, a movie about my dad raping your mom.'”

Photo: Crystal Sky Multimedia / FB


Twitter users like Filipino animator @satvrncat retweeted the offending poster and wrote, “There’s an animated movie about Magellan and just… YIKESSSS. Stop depicting colonizers as good guys.”

What are your two cents on the movie? Leave us a comment below or tweet us @CoconutsManila.

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