Animated Film About Ferdinand Magellan Accused of Glamorizing a Tyrannical Colonizer

Ferdinand Magellan

A new animated film featuring the purported “exploits” of Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish expedition in the 1500s, has struck quite a nerve among many Filipinos online.

Furor sparked after the poster for “Elcano and Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World” was officially released on local social media.

The film, which also includes the Spaniard Juan Sebastián Elcano alongside Magellan in the starring role, is set for a January 2020 release in the Philippines. It is produced by Dibulitoon, a Spanish production company which, according to its website, “began operating in 1991.”

Magellan is a figure known in Philippine history as the explorer who claimed the land for the king of Spain in 1521 but failed to influence Mactan, an area ruled by Chief Lapu-Lapu. Lapu-Lapu, who strongly resisted Spanish hegemony, fought Magellan and his army with his native warriors during the infamous “Battle of Mactan.” 

Magellan, who died during that battle, would then be depicted in local history books as the villain of the failed conquest while Lapu-Lapu emerged as one of the early heroes in pre-Spanish rule Philippines

Now, fast forward to 2019 and what do we have? A film celebrating Magellan’s arrival in the country which Spain would later place under tyrannical rule for 300 years. 

The movie’s viral poster, which was localized to appeal to Filipino tastes, features Elcano and Magellan prominently as the main characters alongside what appears to be a Filipino love interest, depicted to be staring lovingly at Elcano.

Lapu-Lapu is also featured, with the poster calling him the “Philippines’ very own hero.” The Battle of Mactan is even mentioned in a blurb, teasing a clash between the local chief and the invader. Curiously, the poster uploaded on filmmaker Dibulitoon’s official website never made any reference to Lapu-Lapu nor the Battle of Mactan at all.

While the film’s producers may have thought that acknowledging Lapu-Lapu as Philippines’ own hero and placing a local as a love interest would help it get a positive reception in the Philippines, they were clearly mistaken. As soon as the local poster was released on social media, it was heavily criticized, with many pointing out the depiction of invaders as “the good guys.”

Twitter user @satvrncat went on to highlight the awful character designs and descriptions that she said made her hate the film even more:

Soon, calls for boycotting the film emerged, condemning how the native Filipinos were portrayed as caricatures.

Following the collective backlash, Crystal Sky Media, the film’s local distributor has set its Twitter account to private while its Facebook page appears to have removed the poster on its feed, reports Rappler.

Watch the film’s official trailer below:


Feature Image via Dibulitoon

Support our Journalism with a Contribution

Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for everyone’s support. We love you all and can’t appreciate you guys enough.

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian American News and Asian News including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

For advertising and inquiries: