Renaming the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) after Lapu-Lapu, the warrior that killed Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, is one of the major highlights of the Philippine Quincentennial celebration, an official said on April 15, 2021.

Photo: QUINCENTENNIAL HUB. National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) Executive Director Rene Escalante (2nd from left) and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Ramon Cualoping III (center) lead the opening of the Quincentennial Center at Oakridge in Mandaue City, Cebu on Thursday (April 15, 2021). Also in photo are Philippine Information Agency-7 head Fayette Riñen (left), Joel Aba, a staff of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, and a representative of Oakridge. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra)

National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) executive director Rene Escalante said renaming the airport after the chieftain of the island of Mactan is one of the projects of the committee, to highlight his heroism and victory over Spanish conquerors.

Two of the airport buildings – domestic and international terminals – will be renamed after Lapu-Lapu, he noted.

“So the proposal was passed already the House of Representatives. And next week, I will be attending a hearing in the Senate and (be) one of the resource persons for the deliberation of the Committee on Transportation,” Escalante said during the Quincentennial Media Literacy and Explain, Explain, Explain activity of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) at the Oakridge in Mandaue City.

The event was attended by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Ramon Cualoping III, also director-general of the PIA, and members of youth organizations in Cebu City.

Escalante said he is “expecting that before the end of the year, we will have the names of the airport here renamed after Lapu-Lapu”.

The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading on March 25 House Bill No. 8986, seeking to rename MCIA’s Terminal 1 to Lapu-Lapu Domestic Terminal and Terminal 2 as Lapu-Lapu International Airport.

Mayor Junard Chan supported the move of Congress to rename MCIA in honor of Lapu-Lapu.

The mayor said renaming the airport will give pride and honor to Datu Lapu-Lapu, who is considered the country’s first hero for killing Magellan on April 27, 1521.

Holiday on April 27

Escalante also said the NQC is working on making April 27, 2021, a national non-working holiday in the entire country “so that all Filipinos will be given the opportunity to participate in this big event”.

According to history, Lapu-Lapu drove away the Spaniards led by Magellan on April 27, 1521 in what is known to be the Battle of Mactan.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared April 14 a special non-working holiday in Cebu City, to give Cebuanos “full opportunity” to participate in the 500th anniversary of the First Baptism that marked the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.

Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown celebrated the solemn Pontifical Mass beside the historic Magellan’s Cross, along with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, other bishops and priests.

Escalante said Duterte is expected to attend the big event commemorating the Victory of Mactan on April 27.

The NQC official said they have been in close coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), whose officials are also attending meetings for the committee to ensure health and safety protocols to be observed during the big celebration on Mactan Island.

The body has also been coordinating with the city government of Lapu-Lapu for the safety of the attendees.

The city, Escalante said, will be the one to decide on the number of attendees allowed during the quincentennial commemoration of the Victory of Mactan.

Among the big projects of NQC is the opening of a museum at the Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Barangay Mactan that will showcase the chieftain and his warriors as well as the pre-colonial culture in the Philippines.

Quincentennial Center

On Thursday, Cualoping and Escalante led the launch of the Quincentennial Center or Q Center at the Oakridge Business Park.

Undersecretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) said in a message that the center will be a media hub and an expression of the commitment of OPAV to the NQC to spread the most important messages of the quincentennial celebration.

“As a sitting member of NQC, OPAV continues to support the endeavors of NQC to ensure that the 500th Anniversary of the Philippine’s part of the first circumnavigation of the world is celebrated with commemorations that will educate all of us of our history and our culture,” Gonzales said.

He lauded Project Balik Buhay chairman Edmun Liu for the support to the commemorations by providing OPAV the space for various engagements, as well as for the center itself.

“Our national government headed by our President is doing its very best to use this formula of tapang and malasakit to lead us to national recovery. We are very fortunate that even during a pandemic, we are still able to celebrate this important part of our Filipino History which made us who we are today,” he said. (John Rey Saavedra, PNA)