April & May

Update of the 'Battle of Mactan'

Despite the continuing COVIC-19 restrictions on travel and mass gathering, there are still visitors viewing the diorama daily. History comes alive for our guests when they see the panorama and the drama of the Battle of Mactan. Although we had planned for 100 Days of Exhibition, the COVID-related travel restrictions made it necessary for us to end the Exhibition on May 12th. Since this diorama has been designed as a modular system, we had been able to disassemble without damage and plan to re-assemble again to continue the Exhibition once the danger of COVID-19 has ended.

March 27, 2021

Launching of the 'Battle of Mactan'

A blessing by Monsignor Claudio Sale, and welcome remarks by Jonathan R. Matias (Chairman, Sulu Garden Foundation) was given, along with Video messages from President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr. and Miag-ao Mayor Macario Napulan. The Philippine Army was represented by Major General Eric Vidoya (3rd Infantry Division) and Lt. Col. Joel Batara (61st Infantry Battalion of Camp Monteclaro in Miag-ao). The Department of Education and the National Quincentennial Commission were represented by Roel Bermejo (Iloilo School Division Superintendent). The Philippine National Police was represented by Major Valen de los Santos (Chief, Miag-ao, PNP). Engr. Richard Garin (former Congressman of Iloilo) also gave his remarks. Ms. Araceli Lorella (Vice Chairman of Sulu Garden Foundation) gave the closing remarks. In attendance included Vice Mayor Leonardo Naldoza of Miag-ao and Municipal Councilors Atty. Carmelo Nochete and Janjan Molejona. Our special guests include Rajah Lapulapu and Ferdinand Magellan –both reincarnated in the persons of Arli Nim (Manager, Project Planning) and Emilio Sanchez, Manager of Miniature Painting Team). The Iloilo Department of Tourism was there with Bombette Marin and the Iloilo Provincial Information Center with our Information Officer, Nereo Cajilig Lujan. Friends and guests were limited in number by the current regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The host of the program was John Rick Bolano. (Photos by our official photographers from Adbae Studios)

February 2021 - 1 Month before the Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

Series of dry-runs and improvements were made as we come closer to the Inauguration of the ‘Battle of Mactan’ Diorama. The remaining weeks were dedicated for the completion of the target quantities of miniatures, assembling the platform, organizing the event hall, setting public health and safety protocols, promotions, and other technicalities before the launching.
On February 2nd, several executives of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) led by its Chairman and Executive Director, Dr. Rene R. Escalante visited Sulu Garden to look over the arduous process of creating a 50-square meter diorama, now considered the biggest diorama in the country.
This project initiative of Sulu Garden Foundation is made possible because of collaborative efforts of our staff, consultants, and donors. Our primary goal is to advance the spirit of national pride and identity as we narrate Lapulapu’s victory as the victory of all Filipinos.

January 2021 - 2 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

The pressure is on and so does the excitement as we only have a couple of months left before the inauguration of our diorama project on March 27th. For this month, much of our effort is focused on completing both the 3D-printed and non-printed miniatures, refining the finished ones, and working on the terrain of Mactan. We also set the platform, painted it, laid down the tarpaulin as base, and fix the edges so we can put seawater.

Our work is also gaining national attention as several news agencies and magazines featured our ‘Battle of Mactan’ diorama such as the Esquiremag PH, Philippine News Agency, and CNN Philippines. We also entered into partnerships with private sectors and government agencies. Recently, we have signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Megaworld Foundation to hold series of online livestreams, “The Making of the Biggest Diorama on the Battle of Mactan” that allows the public to look into the exhaustive research and preparation needed to achieve this amazing diorama in time for the Quincentennial Commemoration.

The launching of our diorama is officially part of the 2021 National Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines. The lead agencies which include the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Quincentennial Committee (NQC), and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) are closely working with us.

Starting this month, we will have series of dry-runs as the clock is ticking to our big day.

December 2020 - 3 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

The last month of 2020 is dedicated to intensive production of non-printable structures in the diorama such as the different types of trees, houses, and balanghai war boats. To date, we have accomplished more than a hundred trees, 40 houses, and 20 balanghai war boats (equivalent to almost 70% work accomplishment).
Moreover, we have attached the necessary fighting weapons to the warriors of Rajah Humabon and Datu Zula: spears, bows and arrows, shields, and paddles for the rowers, and fixed them to their respective war boats.
For the first time, we assembled and tested the modular platform for the diorama (see time-lapse video) and put some miniatures so we can have a better view of the entire dimension. We also plot the area where the miniatures will be placed and started working on the landscape and seashore set-up to simulate the topography of Mactan Island in Cebu.
More works are still needed to be done but we are glad of the progress we made in preparation for the dry-run of the Battle of Mactan Diorama sometime in January or February 2021. In the meantime, we give the last few days of December for our team to enjoy the Christmas break.
Merry Christmas from Sulu Garden Foundation!

November 2020 - 4 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

Work this month was focused on intensified production of the miniature warriors and the environment of the battlefield. Houses, villagers and even native animals were designed, printed and soon ready for painting. Trees of all different types are also being created. More balanghai war boats are also being made to complete the required 30, along with their corresponding rowers and warriors.  

The creation of how Rajah Lapulapu, Rajah Humabon and Datu Zula would have appeared during the battle was based on primary records of the period and from Boxer Codex, with suggestions from the National Historical Commission.

The Spanish ships are also being completed with their accessories of casks, cannons and rigging. The Spanish crew are all completed and ready to mount. Special attention to this creative process is the depiction of the death of Ferdinand Magellan. Work is ongoing to imagine how Antonio Pigafetta, Juan Sebastian Elcano and the Malay slave, Enrique de Malaca, would have looked like.

This month, we also began the building of the platform that will carry this diorama. The design is a modular system that can be assembled and also broken down for storage after the exhibition.  This would allow the entire diorama to be transported and re-assembled anywhere on any future date.

Experimentation is ongoing on how the terrain will be built, with particular attention to the immense coral reef that separated the Spanish ships from the landside of Mactan island. A small 1/20th representation of the diorama has been constructed to simulate the situations expected in the future as we build the actual 50+ sq. meter diorama.

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October 2020 - 5 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

October has been a challenging month. We had to refine all our methods in 3D to printing and miniature painting to make each miniature as detailed and historically accurate. The challenge is that our miniature Visayan warriors and Spanish soldiers are at the height of only 3 cm. (scale of 1:60). We also made a previous assumption of about 2,500 miniatures and that estimate is wrong. That did not account for the many other things that make up real villages. We had to design kids, old men, women, native pigs, carabao, even chickens and goats. Preliminary work on houses, banana trees, Talisay, bamboo and shrubs each has its challenges of finding and designing materials that can be made as natural looking as possible. Some re-design of the Spanish ships was necessary, particularly Magellan’s ship, Victoria, which happens to also be a black ship. More actions on the Spanish side required some redesign as well.

October is also when we have our first draft of the musical ensemble being undertaken by our composer, Armor Jan Rapista. The native music and Spanish music of the 16th century are challenging, but the resulting first draft is already astonishing. The final music will be an exciting addition to create the feeling of being there in the Battle of Mactan. See Armor’s profile HERE.

Our miniature artists are working feverishly to complete the target of at least 250 miniatures a week. As some of our artists are also students, their artistry has to be balanced with the obligations of online classes and homework. We are averaging 250+ miniatures a week and are optimistic to complete the major work by the end of December. The rest of the months before the launch date will be dedicated to organizing the platforms and all the other minute details of the diorama.

In progress: 3D design by Juan Miguel Trivino of Raja Lapu Lapu watching the battle from higher ground. Lapu Lapu was approximately 70 years old during the Battle of Mactan and very likely did not personally participate in the actual battle. 

Our youngest team member at 14 years of age, Kian Angelo Lorella working on the 3D design of a village woman running away from the battle field. 

September 2020 - 6 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

All printers are operating at full capacity to build the three Spanish caravels.  3D design work continues to create each of the Conquistadores and the Visayans in different battle actions. Training of the artists continues to paint miniatures in the finest details possible. Designing the platform and landscape of the battlefield continues while experimenting on the best, historically accurate depictions of the village life, trees, shrubs and coral reef at low tide.

Progress in pictures. 

August 2020 - 7 Months before Launching the
'Battle of Mactan' on March 27, 2021

As we go in earnest to build this diorama of the Battle of Mactan, planning and recruiting qualified artists and designers for the project became the priority. Then acquiring the right type of equipment to do the job—from better 3D printers, more computers, better paints and brushes, and materials. Finally assembling the Team to learn first the historical basis, the targets to completion, timetables and understanding the complexity of the task ahead.

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