Diorama 10: The Battle of Mactan, 1521

Ayala Museum Staff (Historians, Researchers, Artists) and Artisans from Paete, Laguna1974 - 2011

Ayala Museum

Ayala Museum
Makati, Philippines

The Battle of Mactan1521Rajah Kolambu directed Magellan and his men to Cebu, which he claimed was the best port for provisions. In Cebu, they were asked to pay tribute since this was customary for all ships that came back to trade. To this demand Magellan’s interpreter answered, “the captain, as captain of so great a king as his, would not pay tribute to any lord in the world, and that if he desired peace he should have peace, and if he desired war, war he should have.”Instead of the paying of the tribute, there was an exchange of gifts. Rajah Humabon, leader of Cebu, said he would send a little of his blood, from the right arm, and that the captain should do likewise as a sign of friendship.In the meeting of both leaders, Magellan promised Rajah Humabon that he would “vanquish all his enemies” and make him king of all the other chiefs if he would be baptized a Christians, and accept the King of Spain as his own. The neighboring chiefs were then pressured to accept Humabon’s leadership. However, Lapu-lapu, the chief of Mactan, was not agreeable to these terms. Magellan thought that by defeating Lapu-lapu, he would honor his agreement with Humadon, and that it would create an impression of his superb European fighting prowess. He sailed to Mactan and exact strict obedience from its recalcitrant chieftain.Antonio Pigafetta, the expedition’s official chronicler, gives an eyewitness-account of the battle.But at midnight we set forth, 60 men armed with corselets and helmets, together with the Christian King; and we so managed that we arrived at Mactan three hours before daylight. The captain would not fight at this hours, but sent by the Moor to tell the lord of the place and his people that, if they agreed to obey the King of Spain, and recognize the Christian King as their lord, and give us tribute, they should all be friend. But if they acted otherwise they should learn by experience how our lances pierced. They replied that they had lances of bamboo hardened in the fire and stakes dried in the fire, and that we were to attack them when we would. Then we waited for day to come, then we might have more men. When day came, we leapt into the water, being 49 men, and so we went for a distance of two crossbow flights before we could reach the harbor, and the boats could not come further inshore because of the stones and rocks which were in the water. The other 11 men remained to guard the boats. Having thus reached land we attached them. Those people had formed three division, of more than 1,050 persons, And immediately they perceived us, and went around and before us. When the captain saw this he divided us in two, and thus we began to fight. And thus defending themselves they fired at us so many arrows, and lances of bamboo tipped with iron, and pointed stakes hardened by fire, and stones, that we could hardly defend ourselves. Seeing this, the captain sent some of his men to burn the houses of those people in order to frighten them. Then they came so furiously against us that they sent a poisoned arrow through the captain’s leg. And they followed us, hurling poisoned arrows four or six times; while, recognizing the captain, they turned toward him in as much as twice they hurled arrows very close to his head. But as a good captain and a knight he still stood fast with some others, fighting thus for more than an hour. And as he refused to retire further, an Indian threw a bamboo lance in his face, and the captain immediately killed him with his lance, leaving it in his body. Then, trying to lay hand on his sword, he could draw it by halfway, because of a would from a bamboo lance that he had in his arm. Which seeing, all those people threw themselves on him, of them with a large javelin (which is like a partisan, only thicker) thrust it into his left leg, whereby he fell face downward. On this all at once rushed upon him with lances of iron and bamboo and with these javelins, so that they slew our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide.


  • Title: Diorama 10: The Battle of Mactan, 1521
  • Creator Nationality: Filipinos
  • Creator Gender: Males
  • Creator Death Place: unknown
  • Creator Birth Place: unknown
  • Date Created: 1974 - 2011
  • Physical Dimensions: w1803.4 x h800.1 cm (Complete)
  • Type: Diorama
  • Rights: Ayala Museum, Ayala Museum
  • External Link: www.ayalamuseum.com
  • Provenance: Purchase (Commissioned work): Complete
  • Medium: Mixed media installation (Diorama): Complete
  • Creators: Ayala Museum Staff (Historians, Researchers, Artists) and Artisans from Paete, Laguna

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