2021 The Arrival

The theme of the virtual Gabii sa Kabilin highlights the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of Magellan, the birth of Christianity and the victory at Mactan, and its impact on Cebuano culture, heritage and way of life.

In March 15, 1521, the Magellan expedition entered the waters of a group of islands, initially called the Archipelago de San Lazaro. 22 days later, they entered the prosperous part of Cebu on April 7, where Magellan met Rajah Humabon. Not only did Magellan and Humabon seal the friendship with a blood compact (sandugo), Magellan was also able to persuade Humabon and his subjects to be baptized into the Catholic faith a week later on April 14. The alliance, however, would prove to be disastrous for the Spaniards; Magellan would be killed in the battle of Mactan when he got entangled in the feud of Humabon and the defiant Lapulapu who refused to recognize the former as the “king” among chieftains. 

Two weeks after the event, Humabon and his men would turn against the remaining Spaniards and massacred or enslaved them, Those escaped hurriedly left with their ships. The events would be fresh on both parties’ minds when the new fleet, headed by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, would return to the island 44 years later and formally began the Spanish occupation.

Although the Magellan arrival did not establish Spanish occupation, the “arrival” could very well be taken to mean as the ushering of Spanish influences to Cebuano culture. 333 years as a Spanish colony brought in changes to Cebuano way of living and producing. Cebuano pre-colonial culture and arts, manifested in the indigenous, married with those of the Spanish; in cultural processes we call amalgamation and adaptation to create a distinct and new Cebuano identity in Cebuano lifestyle and arts