Duterte gives history lesson: Lapulapu, hero and warrior, was Tausug

President Duterte is sticking to his belief that Lapulapu, who led a group of warriors to defeat Spanish invaders led by Ferdinand Magellan five centuries ago, was a Tausug from Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

The President made the assertion about Lapulapu's roots even as the National Historical Commission of the Philippines clarified that the Filipino hero was a chieftain of the island of Mactan.

"I raised Lapulapu to the level and dignity of a true warrior, and he was Tausug, the settlement was Tausug," Duterte said during his visit to Maguindanao Tuesday, May 11.

"Hindi nila alam, those who are debating, ang mga Bisaya kung makinig lang sila nang mabuti (They don't know, those who are debating. If the Visayans will just listen closely), they can make out of what a Tausug is talking about," he said.

Duterte claimed that the closest vernacular to Mindanao was "Cebuano" which he added was also a "tribe also there thriving with Lapulapu."

"Magtanong ka ng matatanda dito na matagal nang hindi umuwi, they call themselves Sugbuanon. Hindi nila sabihin Cebu, that is a Spanish creation. Magtanong ka ‘yong matatanda, “Saan ka galing?” 'Sugbu.' 'So what’s your tribe?” 'Sugbuanon' (If you ask the elders here, they call themselves Sugbuanon. They don't say Cebu, that is a Spanish creation. If you ask the elders, 'where do you come from?' They'll say ' Sugbu.' 'So what's your tribe?' 'Sugbuanon')," he said.

Duterte, the country's first President from Mindanao, also took a swipe at critics disputing Lapu-Lapu's birthplace. He said he was "very proud" of Lapulapu, who fought and won against the foreign invading forces.

The Philippines recently observed the 500th anniversary of Battle of Mactan, where Lapulapu and his warriors defeated Magellan's forces. Duterte, in a taped message during the commemorative rites, honored his "idol" Lapulapu and called the health and essential frontliners as the "worth heirs" of his legacy.

"Tapos itong mga pilosopo kung hindi ma --- testing Lapu-Lapu, sabi ko nandiyan na ‘yan (The philosophers are contesting Lapulapu. I said it's already there). He killed the first invader of our country. I am very proud of him," Duterte said.

Duterte previously expressed dismay that Lapulapu was not given proper recognition despite his achievements. He decided to pay tribute to the precolonial hero by declaring a public holiday and a creating presidential award system in his honor.

"The medals that I give to my soldiers now are all Lapu-Lapu awards for bravery. Iyong talagang nag-fight sa invaders at hindi lang pinatay talaga si --- merece. Whoever told Magellan to come here and f*** with our country," the President said before an assembly of soldiers and local officials in Maguindanao.