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Epic Filipino block party in Vancouver named after Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu

Mactan

Even though most North Americans have never heard of Lapu-Lapu, he remains a national hero in the Philippines. That’s because the Mactan chieftain led his men in a successful battle against Spanish invaders in 1521.

Lapu-Lapu’s forces ended up killing the leader of the Spanish expedition—Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan—who was in the midst of circumnavigating the globe. And it delayed Spanish colonization for more than 40 years.

Now, Filipino BC and the Sunset on Fraser Business Association plan a tribute to Lapu-Lapu unlike anything ever held before in Vancouver. On Saturday (April 27), the two organizations will stage the massive Lapu-Lapu Cultural Block Party at John Oliver Secondary School. From there, it will extend all the way south to East 47th Avenue in the large parking lots west of Fraser Street.

ABS-CBN News broadcast a preview of Lapu-Lapu Day.

The merchandise is one of several memorable aspects of this festival. Organizers are selling Lapu-Lapu Day hoodies, crewnecks, hero T-shirts, tote bags, and hats. They’re great conversation starters for anyone who wants to educate friends and family members about the colonial history of the Philippines.

There will also be a Lapu-Lapu Invitation basketball showdown at John Oliver Secondary at 10:30 a.m., along with plenty of arts and crafts from the Philippines. But the biggest lure will likely be the free, live entertainment, which includes Vancouver-based R&B duo Manila Grey and Winnipeg-born R&B artist John Concepcion.

Manila Grey’s “Silver Skies” was on No Saints Loading.

Mactan chieftain’s legacy celebrated through music

Manila Grey (singer Soliven and rapper GhostrideNeeko) formed in 2016 and released their debut EP, No Saints Under Palm Shade, the following year. They have since released two full-length albums, No Saints Loading and No Saints on Knight Street. In 2021, the duo was nominated for a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year.

Meanwhile, Concepcion’s YouTube channel has more than 75,000 subscribers. His cover version of Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” has attracted more than 800,000 views.

Listen to John Concepcion’s cover of “Yummy”.

Other performers on Lapu-Lapu Day include Mikey Jose, Mar Emanuel, KeeMajore, Julia Rae, Jaenna Cali, Kaya Ko, Nikkaela, Finest Summer, and Kardias Quing. The event will also feature drag artists such as Kimmy Couture, Margaux Rita, Bongganisa, and Pia Little.

Kimmy Couture appeared on Canada’s Drag Race.

Lapu-Lapu fought his battle against Magellan in what is now the province of Cebu in the Philippines. Coincidentally, this is where Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore’s mother Maria was born.

Today, Elmore honours the Mactan chieftain with a sculpture on the counter of her constituency office, which is just half a block away from where the Lapu-Lapu Day celebrations will take place.

Mactan Lapu-Lapu
A sculpture of Lapu-Lapu stands proudly on the front counter of NDP MLA Mable Elmore’s Vancouver-Kensington constituency office. Photo by Charlie Smith.

For more information on Lapu-Lapu Day, visit the website. Follow Pancouver on Instagram @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.