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Humabon’s Mark

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!

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17 responses to “Humabon’s Mark

  1. Doreen December 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    very informative :)

  2. ianne December 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    thanks for the info, ley. he was a brave man indeed.

  3. Patrick Tura December 12, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Mora man ug si Tommy Osmeña si Rajah Humabon?:-)

  4. inday myrna December 12, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Tnx Bai, as i dont know about this.
    Baka maka suroy diha.

  5. meylou December 13, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Excellent information. We will definitely visit this park next time we’re there. Thank you, Ley. :)

  6. tolindoy December 16, 2012 at 6:09 am

    mura ma nag nawg si tomas hehehe

  7. manang winnie December 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Thanks Ley. The park looks nice and clean. Ang museum building karaan kaayp ang dating. Pila na lang kaha ang nahabilin karon diha sa Cebu. I remember the same kind of houses around Mabolo. I wonder if they’re still around.

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  9. King kendrick October 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Rajah Humabon? he was a coward, probably the greatest coward the Visayans has ever produced. He was too scared so he converted himself and his tribe to an unknown religion( at that time) because he saw their weaponry and turned yellow and started clucking like a chicken. Wisest and Bravest man? nope, he is a chicken and it is disappointing that the Cebuano people honor this coward by building him a plaza.

    Wisest and Bravest title belong to Lapu-Lapu.

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