21 October 2021, Kuala Lumpur – In a virtual inaugural session held yesterday, the Philippines commenced its hosting of the Philippine International Quincentennial Conference, with the theme “Situating the Filipino and the Philippines in 1521”, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world.

Philippine history is often told to begin with the so-called “discovery of the Philippines” by Ferdinand Magellan in March 1521. For centuries, this narrative created an impression that, prior to Magellan’s arrival, the ancestors of Filipinos were nothing but savage, uncivilized peoples. For the Philippines, the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world is both a milestone and an opportunity to dispel myths and misconceptions about Filipinos through history.

Along with said milestone is the 500th anniversary of the victory of Lapu-Lapu and his warriors in the Battle of Mactan, an event that served as one of the inspirations for our heroes and martyrs during the Philippine Revolution of 1896 and of subsequent events that led to the formation of the Philippines – the first democracy in Asia.

The Conference aims to foster a more Filipino-centric point of view of the first circumnavigation of the world by underscoring the magnanimity, compassion and humanity of our ancestors in helping the crew of the Magellan-Elcano expedition that traversed, for almost four months, the unpredictable waters of the Pacific. These are characteristics of Filipinos as a people that are recurrent in Philippine history, such as in the siege of Baler in 1899, or in the Open Door Policy of President Manuel L. Quezon to the Jews in 1939.

The Conference proudly features prominent scholars, artists and scientists from all over the world.

Today’s panel session on “Southeast Asia Views the Quincentennial”, covered perspectives from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand and Indonesia on the Quincentennial.

Dato’ Seri Dr. Md. Salleh Yaapar of the Universiti Sains Malaysia, who received his masters degree in Comparative Literature from the University of the Philippines, discussed his views on the Magellan-Elcano expedition, the Battle of Mactan and the roles of Datu Lapu-Lapu, as well as Magellan’s aid and translator, Enrique de Malacca.

In his presentation, Dr. Salleh extolled the role of Lapu-Lapu as one of the earliest heroes of the Malay archipelago: “The real hero was Datu Lapu-Lapu, the first leader in the Malay Archipelago to vanquish a European conqueror or colonizer. Thus, it is right for the Philippines to retroactively honor him as the first Philippine national hero to resist foreign invasion.

The Philippine International Quincentennial Conference runs until December 17 and is livestreamed on around 100 Facebook pages, including the Facebook page of the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia (PHinMY).


For more information, please contact:

Embassy of the Philippines (Attention: Information Section)

1 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur 50450 Malaysia

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Tel No. +603 2148 4233

Fax No. +603 2148 3576