MANILA—An animated film that features the Battle of Mactan between Filipino hero Lapulapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is an opportunity for the public to learn more about their ancestors, the state history agency said Friday.
"What we request the public is to be critical and make use of the opportunity to discover by themselves who truly were our ancestors, by reading books about Philippine history, culture, and society, or visiting the National Museum and other museums and galleries alike," National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) chair Rene Escalante said in a statement.
The agency said it respects artistic freedom and does not endorse or critique films and other arts forms.
The Spanish-produced film "Elcano and Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World," which narrates the journey of Magellan and Basque Juan Sebastián Elcano and its arrival in Cebu in 1521, received backlash amid the villainous depiction of Lapulapu and its seeming glorification of colonizers.
While the film is "obviously biased" in favor of Spain and its history, the agency said: "The same goes for us, Filipinos, in how to view the events that comprised the Magellan-Elcano expedition, especially with respect to our history as a people."
"We are also biased toward our national sentiment and perspective that Lapulapu is our hero and Magellan was the defeated foreign intruder," the NHCP added.
For historian Xiao Chua, the film is a "chance to educate, to talk about it."
"Just because you don't agree on something you want it banned? . . . Ipokrito lang pagiging liberal natin? Pro democracy pero gusto ng censorship," he said in a Facebook post.
"Perspective nila 'yun. Malamang kontrabida tayo."
The Palace had said it was up to the Movie Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB) to decide whether to ban or delete parts of the film.
“We will not want to preempt the jurisdiction of that agency," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.