The Silent War by Boboi Costas



Did the Battle of Mactan happen in Camotes islands? In the early 70s, Camotes residents have raised this question upon the discovery of what seemed to be an ancient seaside
burial ground in Mactang, Poro, Camotes. Since then, the question hounds historians, residents and scholars.

Mactang is a coastal community that has figured well in Camotes history. In 1997, University of the Philippines anthropology student Ivon Banzon Cabanilla presented a paper that attempted to settle the setting.

Cabanilla wrote that a 1950 atlas of the Philippines in the Museo ng Manila library showed Mactan Island used to be called Isla ng Opon (Opon Island). It was only called Mactan after the construction of international airport, the Camotesnons assert. And a Pigafetta 1521 map of Cebu showed that Matan (Mactan) was in the middle of Zubu and Bohol --- where Camotes is located.

“Mactan has questionable terrain,” the paper said, adding that it has more rocks and corals than anything else. Could it then support the 1,500 men who fought with Magellan and his men, including their families?

Mactang in Camotes, on the other hand, has arable lands, timberlands and natural springs. Moreover, there are no official records from the National Museum showing excavation done in Mactan (Opon), and therefore, no physical basis. In Mactang (Camotes), excavations in the 70s yielded spears, shields, daggers, swords, a skull pierced with an arrowhead, and artifacts such as carnelian beads, blue glass, shell bracelets, iron pendants and crosses.
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