Mactan Island is a sprawling island paradise in the province of Cebu that calls to mind vestiges of pre-colonial Philippine history. The site of the historic battle between the island’s chieftain, Lapu-Lapu, and Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the island is now peppered with hotels and all sorts of establishment that cater to tourists stopping by via the Mactan International Airport, as well as neighboring islands.
The island’s main draw is the eponymous Mactan Shrine, where a statue of Lapu-Lapu towers over a park and fronts a dock for small boats and a mangrove area. It is located in the Punta Engaño area, a few minutes walk away from Shangri-La Mactan and a ride away from the airport. A monument commemorating Magellan can also be found within the shrine’s premises, surrounded by a fence. According to a local tour guide, it was assumed that Magellan died there but he actually died a few yards away. There’s also a huge painting inspired by the battle.
Over the years, the tourist spot has been more than just a stop-over to pay homage to the legendary chieftain, but also a place to buy trinkets and native products made from capiz and all sorts of sea shells. Towards a makeshift observation tower, it is also easy to notice a number of tiny, seashore crabs (kolokoy in Tagalog) wandering about. Kids living in huts around the area are often seen swimming in the shallow water to cool off in the afternoon heat.
Featured Image by Sandy Miguel