Mactan is the improbable site of one of the defining moments in the Philippines' history. It was here on 27 April 1521 that Ferdinand Magellan was fatally wounded at the hands of Chief Lapu-Lapu. The event is commemorated at the Mactan Shrine on a stone plinth bearing the date that Magellan was felled. Next to it is a statue of a ripped and pumped Lapu-Lapu, looking like a He-Man action figure.
In the months leading up to this fateful moment, Magellan had managed to curry the favour of all the most powerful chiefs of the region, with the single exception of Lapu-Lapu. So with 60 of his best soldiers, Magellan sailed to the island to teach him a lesson in gunboat diplomacy. But Lapu-Lapu and his men defended their island with unimagined ferocity, and Magellan was soon back on his boat – fatally wounded by a spear to his head and a poisoned arrow to his leg.