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April 7, 1521, The Magellan-Elcano Expedition Reached Cebu Accompanied by Rajah Colambu of Limasawa

On this day, 500 years ago, Rajah Colambu of Limasawa (in today’s Southern Leyte), with a fleet of ancient balangays, accompanied the Magellan-Elcano expedition to Cebu. Leaving from Limasawa, they headed north and followed the coastline of Leyte island.

They navigated to Sugbo (which means “to walk or go into the waters”, referring how the arrivals from the sea had to disembark from their boats and wade in shallow waters to reach the shore. Sugbo is now known as Cebu). They reached and discovered the mouth of the cove of Cebu called Mandawe at noon of April 7, 1521.

Upon arrival, Magellan’s en fired their artillery as a sign of peace. Magellan then met Sugbo’s ruler, Rajah or Datu Humabon/Hamabar. Humabon demanded for a tribute but magellan refused. The two later sealed their friendship with a blood compact in a traditional ritual called sandugo (“one blood”).

Below is an excerpt from Antonio Pigafetta’s The First Voyage Around the World:

At noon on Sunday, April seven, we entered the port of Zubu, passing by many villages, where we saw many houses built upon logs. On approaching the city, the captain-general ordered the ships to fling their banners. The sails were lowered and arranged as if for battle, and all the artillery was fired, an action which caused great fear to those people. The captain sent a foster-son of his as ambassador to the king of Zubo with the interpreter. When they reached the city, they found a vast crowd of people together with the king, all of whom had been frightened by the mortars. The interpreter told them that that was our custom when entering into such places, as a sign of peace and friendship, and that we had discharged all our mortars to honor the king of the village. The king and all of his men were reassured, and the king had us asked by his governor what we wanted. The interpreter replied that his master was a captain of the greatest king and prince in the world, and that he was going to discover Malucho; but that he had come solely to visit the king because of the good report which he had heard of him from the king of Mazaua, and to buy food with his merchandise. The king told him that he was welcome [literally: he had come at a good time], but that it was their custom for all ships that entered their ports to pay tribute, and that it was but four days since a junk from Ciama [i.e., Siam] laden with gold and slaves had paid him tribute. As proof of his statement the king pointed out to the interpreter a merchant from Ciama, who had remained to trade the gold and slaves. The interpreter told the king that, since his master was the captain of so great a king, he did not pay tribute to any seignior in the world, and that if the king wished peace he would have peace, but if war instead, war. Thereupon, the Moro merchant said to the king Cata raia chita that is to say, “Look well, sire.” “These men are the same who have conquered Calicut, Malaca, and all India Magiore [i.e., India Major]. If they are treated well, they will give good treatment, but if they are treated evil, evil and worse treatment, as they have done to Calicut and Malaca.” The interpreter understood it all and told the king that his master’s king was more powerful in men and ships than the king of Portogalo, that he was the king of Spagnia and emperor of all the Christians, and that if the king did not care to be his friend he would next time send so many men that they would destroy him. The Moro related everything to the king, who said thereupon that he would deliberate with his men, and would answer the captain on the following day. Then he had refreshments of many dishes, all made from meat and contained in porcelain platters, besides many jars of wine brought in. After our men had refreshed themselves, they returned and told us everything. The king of Mazaua, who was the most influential after that king and the seignior of a number of islands, went ashore to speak to the king of the great courtesy of our captain-general.


National Quincentennial Commttee, Republic of the Philippines

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