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          MANILA-- The Philippine government will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the world circumnavigation but with a Filipino-centric theme focusing on the heroism of Lapulapu and the early Filipinos' humanity.

          "The Philippines will be part of the quincentennial commemorations of the circumnavigation of the world but the most important point here is the Philippines will celebrate its victory and humanity-- the victory and humanity of our Filipino heroes," said Karl Louie Fajardo, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Office of Brand Integration chief of staff, in a media interview.

          "We will highlight the humanity of the early Filipinos that when the foreigners landed in our soil, we were magnanimous, we gave them food and medicine and at the same time, we fought hard when they oppressed us," he added.

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          "There's this song that says Magellan discovered the Philippines, we'll try to revise that because it connotes that before the coming of the Magellan expedition nobody knows our country," he said.

          Prior to 1521 when Magellan landed to Cebu, the country is already in constant communication with its neighboring countries like Indonesia, China, and other states.

          "Our neighbors are already familiar with us, so that statement that Magellan discovered the Philippines is a very Eurocentric statement, from our point of view it's not. This is something that we are going to communicate," he added.

          For the preparation alone, Escalante said the chief executive approved the allocation of PHP17 million.

          In 2021, three major events will be held for the quincentennial, including the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the world-- an international event led actively by Spain and Portugal.

          Escalante clarified that several countries will be holding its own celebrations with a different focus, like Indonesia, which will highlight the spice trade.

          "In the case of the Philippines, we are going to focus on the victory of Lapulapu in the Battle of Mactan," he said, adding the city of Lapu-Lapu also wants to sponsor a reenactment of the Battle of Mactan in 2021.

          "This is the activity that the President himself wants us to focus on because for us, this is a social pride for many of us Filipinos," he added.

          The official said the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines is also included in the celebrations but will be led by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

          "They have also created their own community and there are also a lot of activities that will be unfolding," he shared.

          'Lapulapu in focus'

          The overall celebrations will center on the gallantry of Lapulapu and the "spirit of freedom" he represented in his days.

          "Portugal and Spain, they have their own masterplan as well as Indonesia and Guam. For us Filipino, we will have our own peg. That is why we are focusing on Lapulapu," he said.

          Escalante said Portugal is also coming up with a commemorative coin featuring the Filipino hero in time for the international quincentennial commemorations.

          "I was informed by Philippine Ambassador (to Portugal) Cookie Feria that he will be featured," he told reporters in an interview.

          In the Philippines, a personality often placed in a commemorative coin is a person with historical significance.

          "It must mean that even them (Portugal) know that Lapulapu played a part in the quincentenary," Escalante said.

          "The fact that they even issued a commemorative coin, there are other Filipinos they can put there, so for them Lapulapu is the image of the Philippines in 1521," he added. (PNA)

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