In the Antonio Pigafetta’s firsthand account of the Battle of Mactan, there are two elements that stand out. These elements are, first, that Magellan ordered that the houses be set on fire by the Spanish soldier and second, that Magellan was wounded and but still fought it out with the native warriors of Lapu-lapu so that his men can take a flight to their boats.
The painting of Fernando Amorsolo depicts the houses burning and the native warriors surrounding the wounded Magellan. This isn’t inaccurate but rather falls short of including the Spanish soldiers setting off in their boats. It will be interesting to know that similar to the account of Pigafetta, Fernando Amorsolo likewise did not identify which man was Lapu-lapu among the native warriors. Nothing in the painting points to a single warrior that would emphasize his person.
The inaccuracy that I find in most of our drawings is the absence of the houses on fire on Mactan Island. We also mainly chose to depict the two sides battling it out against each other without choosing to picture the dramatic part where Magellan almost falls to the ground from sustained wounds while his men take time to flee on their boats.
Other inaccuracies in the Amorsolo painting include depicting the number of houses that were set on fire and the number of warriors killed on both sides in the battle . Nevertheless, This may be counted as an inaccuracy in the painting but it doesn’t detract from the merits of the artwork because it only matters to demonstrate that indeed both sides lost men in the battle. Inaccuracies that I deem permissible if based on a historical account are those that do not show the opposite of what truly transpired in a historical event.
If we are to treat Antonio Pigafetta’s firsthand account as indeed a truthful depiction of the battle, then it will not be permissible to find inaccuracies in another painting that depicts a claim contrary to what the account says.
History is not only interpreted through many different forms of art by artists and institutions but is also given a way through art to bear messages in society. Art therefore is not only made for art’s sake but is also a means of communication; an important tool that has the ability to transport us to a different time and place. It allows us to gain historical perspectives and enlightenment and also to appreciate different periods in history and their impact and significance to mankind.
Art forms in society may forward and reaffirm a society’s values, customs, and beliefs but in a few other instances art forms oppose these. The role of art in society comes from the different persuasions of its artists and the groups that finance its execution and commission artists. It may be gleaned from these that art may be one of many social mechanisms to preserve the status quo. Conversely, it may be a powerful tool to show opposition and resistance to or to question, what is generally accepted in society like religious beliefs, social conventions, gender and morality.
Source: “The Battle of Mactan.”. The Pinoy Warrior. 4 July 2013. Web. 29 August 2013. http://www.thepinoywarrior.com/2013/07/the-battle-of-mactan-by-pigafetta.html