Cebu is the Seat of Christianity in the Philippinhes. Cebu was where everything began. It was here, almost five hundred years ago, where the early Cebuanos first made the sign of the cross and became Christians.
But how exactly did things happen? How did a group of people embrace a new religion which arrived with strange looking white men with long nose and blue eyes?
The answer? This man right here – Rajah Humabon.
Rajah Humabon also known as Rajah Hamabar was the leader of the island of Zubu (Cebu) when the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521. Magellan quickly befriended the chieftain and soon, a blood compact was made to seal their friendship. Eventually, Magellan convinced Rajah Humabon to convert to Christianity. On April 14, 1521, Rajah Humabon, his wife Humamai, and 800 other locals were baptized. Humabon was given the name Carlos and his wife Juana. Magellan then gave Humabon an image of the suffering Jesus (Ecce Home) and his wife an image of the child Jesus (Santo Niño.) He also erected a large wooden cross (Magellan’s Cross) at the baptismal site.
Today, a park which honors the Rajah who was considered the ”wisest and bravest man in the island” during his time can be seen in downtown Cebu. The name of the place is Plaza Hamabar. The plaza stands as a symbol of Humabon’s mark. A legacy which remains until this very day.
A very old photo of the park.
The well-maintained park sits in front of the Cathedral Museum and the University of Southern Philippines Mabini Campus.
Statue of Cebu’s Rajah Humabon
According to Magellan’s chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, ”Rahah Humabon was fat and short and tattooed with fire in various designs. He wore only a cotton cloth before his privates and a scarf embroidered with needle about his head. A necklace of great value hanging from his neck and two large gold earrings fastened in ears set round with precious gems.”
Tattooed back of Rajah Humabon
Big open space behind the statue.
A small obelisk sitting at the northern end of the park.
The obelisk and the marker
Plaza Hamabar marker
The plaza with a view of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
St. Peter right beside the plaza.
The Cathedral Museum just across the street.
Another angle of the museum.
USP Foundation Mabini Campus
Check out the park now!