ILOILO CITY – A private initiative is now working double-time to complete the country’s biggest diorama that will portray the “Battle of Mactan” ahead of its 500th anniversary on April 27 this year.
“It is the grandest event in the Philippines this year because we are celebrating the Quincentennial Commemoration of the battle between Lapu-Lapu and Ferdinand Magellan that happened 500 years ago,” John Rick Bolaño, executive associate of the Miagao-based Sulu Garden Foundation Inc., said in a phone interview on Thursday.
Bolaño said the project is around 80 to 85 percent completed. They have already displayed the 50-square meter platform and currently working on the terrain of the seashore of Mactan Island.
“We want to showcase the authenticity of the event but also we want to give people the artistic side. That’s why we reimagine some of the features of the island; we placed stones and mangroves because Mactan also has mangroves and corals. We reimagined because we could not physically visit Mactan,” he added.
The project that was conceptualized way back in July 2020 was laid down by foundation president Jonathan Matias, an enthusiast in making artistic and historical projects.
The project in partnership with the National Historical Commission, National Quincentennial Commission, and the Presidential Communications Operations Office combined history, art, and modern technology to come up with a good presentation.
Bolaño said as the unveiling is coming near, they are also” pressured and preoccupied”. It is set to be unveiled on March 27, ahead of the April 27 anniversary to allow people to appreciate the project.
He clarified that Sulu Garden Miagao, the host of the diorama, is more than just a restaurant as the Sulu Garden Foundation Inc. has a history and art gallery and mini-laboratory for science and technology.
“We are excited in the sense that this is first in Western Visayas and it is the first in the whole Philippines. Aside from the excitement, we are glad that we will be hosting this educational format of showcasing our diorama,” he said.
While the battle has nothing to do with Western Visayas because it is a celebration of Eastern and Central Visayas, yet the initiative will put the region, especially Miagao, into the spotlight, he said.
Even if the battle did not happen in Western Visayas, its people, by looking at the presentation, get to reminisce about the discovery of the Philippines and the introduction of Christianity to the country, he said.
“It gives us a sense also of nationalism, not just for Western Visayas but to all Filipinos in the Philippines and even abroad. The discovery of the Philippines started when Magellan came here and the introduction of Christianity to Filipinos started when Magellan came to the Philippines. Magellan’s journey going to the Philippines is also the first circumnavigation of the world,” he added.
The creation of the diorama gathered the skills, creativity, and brains of some 20 people. The diorama is a modular type platform that can be assembled and dismantled.
“We based our concepts and designs on the perspective of Dr. Danilo Madrid Gerona because he has the primary sources and evidence of what happened really during the battle in Mactan between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan,” he said.
Gerona is the author of the book entitled “Ferdinand Magellan. The Armada de Maluco and the European Discovery of the Philippines” and serves as a consultant for the project.
He made his research using the actual accounts of Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s voyage chronicler and a survivor of the Mactan battle, and those of other historians.
Using Gerona’s study, they came up with over 5,000 miniature pieces composed of over 3,000 people representing the warriors of Lapu-Lapu and Raja Humabon, Spaniards from the group of Magellan, ordinary villagers, and boat rowers.
There are also 30 to 40 balangay (wooden boats used before colonization) boats and three big ships for Magellan’s voyage.
Spanish artist Emilio Sanchez serves as head of the artist team and assisted by local artists from Miagao.
They also tapped a 3D artist and purchase a 3D printer to get the closest detail even for a three-centimeter figure.
The detail for a three-centimeter miniature person for instance is up to the tattoo level. Visitors will be provided with binoculars so they would see the details of the miniature.
Bolaño said that the biggest challenge they have is how to make their work “closest possible to the real event that happened 500 years ago”.
“We want the authenticity and the truthfulness of the event that transpired through this diorama,” he added.
The foundation, he said, is targeting to collaborate with the Department of Education (DepEd) to able to tell the real story about the battle. (PNA)