The ambition and daring of ‘Kampilan: The Untold Story of Kalip Pulaka’

Photograph courtesy of ‘Kampilan: The Untold Story of Kalip Pulaka’ The producers and director of ‘Kampilan: The Untold Story of Kalip Pulaka.’

Of the many heroes that are part of our Philippine history, Lapu-Lapu, the Datu of Mactan who defeated the Spanish conquistador Ferdinand Magellan, continues to fascinate and, at the same time, arouse debate and suspicion.

Some of the most fantastic incarnations of Lapu-Lapu’s fortitude happened on the legitimate stage. In 1997, Lapu-Lapu, A Neo Classic-Ethno-Rock-Fusion-Opera was staged at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas. It was directed by the late great theater maverick Behn Cervantes, with production design by National Artist for Theater and Design Salvador Bernal. It made Miguel Vazquez an A-list Filipino theater star. He was a beefy, brawny, somersaulting Lapu-Lapu who, if memory serves me right, was the biggest xenophobe this side of Southeast Asia.

In 2021, the opening production of the newly rehabilitated Metropolitan Theater was
Lapu-Lapu: Ang Datu ng Mactan, with a powerhouse artistic cast that included librettist Nicolas Pichay, music by Krina Cayabyab, directed by Dexter Santos with tenor Arman Ferrer as the titular hero.

Prior to all these, six years ago President Rodrigo Duterte declared 27 April as a special non-working holiday throughout the country. The law signed two days later was for the purpose of commemorating the historic event.

Debate and suspicion

The most intriguing document about the Mactan datu can be read on the Facebook page The AlternativePH. Written four years ago, “Lapu-Lapu: The National Hero Who Never Existed, the Perfect Filipino Lie And Propaganda” already fetched more than 10K reactions and continues to be shared to this day.

The document, complete with all the research references, posits that: Lapu-Lapu was nothing more but a village chieftain already in his 70s when Magellan arrived in Mactan; that he was not present during the historic skirmish; and that the romanticized Lapu-Lapu we all know was partly created during the Filipino Nationalism Campaign of President Carlos P. Garcia.

This document is still available for all to read.


A new film about Lapu-Lapu is upon us with Sultanate Films International bankrolling the latest motion picture that will present Lapu-Lapu and his heroism. Billed as Kampilan: The Untold Story of Kalip Pulaka, its central story is about Kalip Pulaka, also known as Lapu-Lapu, as told through the Maranao’s oral traditional called darangan.

Written and directed by Angelo Carpio, with former police provincial director of Lanao del Sur and currently the bureau director of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Cosanie Derogongan, it is produced by Sultan Bob Datimbang and Shiekh Abdulrazzaq Siddiq.

“We are not here to alter history,” said director Carpio. “We are here to present the version of history and truth from the people from the Southern cultural communities.”

The movie director added: “The only known source we have on Lapu-Lapu came from Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan’s expeditions. For the first time, what we will show in the movie came from the ‘darangan’ from the Maranao tribe, which is the main source of our film.”

Director Carpio also said: “The most exciting, and I want to believe the most interesting part here is that, magkakaroon ng mga pag-aaral ulit (there will be another study on it). That is what we need. We need to establish and present the historical injustices about the Moro people that lamentably did not make the final cut in our history books and other documents, and in our history per se. You know the history that we can unearth and learn from the darangan is massive and rich. There is so much knowledge to discover (and) appreciate if we go back to our brothers in the South.

“With Kampilan, we are giving them the opportunity, the chance for them to be heard. Our Moro brothers have a lot of stories that we will try to uncover and share their stories through Sultanate Films.”

A new film about Lapu-Lapu is upon us with Sultanate Films International bankrolling the latest motion picture that will present Lapu-Lapu and his heroism.

The film’s lead star is yet to be cast. The search is currently ongoing.

Interesting fact, the title “Kampilan” came from what Muslims value as their “royal sword.” An actual kampilan will be used by the lead star of the movie, a historical treasure from Mindanao and owned by the sultan himself.

“When the first invaders came, kampilan was our weapon against them and (when) the Japanese followed, kampilan din ang tumalo sa kanila (it was also the kampilan that defeated them),” producer Sultan Datimbang shared.

He added: “Sultanate Films International will try to come up with a historical film to reawaken the patriotism of the Filipinos. This is our passion project. Kumita man o hindi, sapat na sa amin ng mapalitaw namin ang kasaysayan ng mga Filipino (Whether we earn from it or not, it is enough that we will be able to tell the history of Filipinos).”