Published: August 10, 2010
Magellan stayed only a week in Limasawa since there was not enough food on the island for him and his men. He heard of a rich island not far away, and he ordered his captains to sail for what is now Cebu in the Central Visayas. Guided by Raja Kulambu, they entered the Cebu harbor on April 8. Magellan told his Malay slave Enrique, who he had brought from Asia all the way through Portugal and Spain and who therefore, with Magellan, was the first man to circumnavigate the world–to assure the people of Cebu that they had come as friends, not as enemies.
With this assurance, Raja Humabon, the Cebu chief, welcomed Magellan and his men as his friends. A blood compact was then made between Humabon and Magellan, and gifts were exchanged.
On April 15, 1521, a Mass was held on the shore of Cebu. A cross was set up where the Cebuanos could clearly see it. On the same day, 800 Cebuanos were converted to Christianity. Among these were Raja Humabon himself, who received the Christian name of Carlos in honor of the King of Spain. Humabon’s wife, the first Philippine queen to espouse the Catholic faith, was baptized Juana in honor of the King Carlos’ mother. To her, Magellan gave an image of the Holy Infant Jesus.
The Battle of Mactan
At almost the same time that Magellan was converting the Cebuanos to Christianity, a quarrel between two chiefs of the neighboring island of Mactan occurred. Raja Sula asked Magellan’s help against his rival, Raja Lapu-lapu, who Sula said, refused to recognize the King of Spain as his king. On hearing this, Magellan, with some sixty men, embarked for Mactan to punish Lapu-lapu. Humabon offered the help of his warriors, but Magellan turned down the offer, saying that the Spaniards could handle the Mactan warriors.
Magellan demanded that Lapu-lapu and his men pay him tribute to show that they recognized the sovereignty of the Spanish king over them. Lapu-lapu refused to do so, and Magellan and some of his men then waded ashore and attacked the Mactan defenders.
With bolos, arrows and spears with fire-hardened bamboo tips, Lapu-lapu and his men fought them and wounded Magellan. The Spaniards retreated, leaving their wounded commander. Seeing this, Lapu-lapu’s men swarmed over Magellan and showered him with spears. Thus died Magellan, the first man to go around the world and whom the voyagers’ chronicler, Pigafetta, extolled as “our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our guide.”
With his brilliant victory, Lapu-lapu rose to fame as the first champion of Filipino freedom. He was the first hero to repulse Western aggression against the Filipinos.
The Spaniards hurried back to Cebu after their defeat in nearby Mactan. Having lost face, they were no longer feared or respected by the Cebuanos. In place of the fallen Magellan, the Spaniards chose two new commanders–Duarte Barbosa and Juan Serrano.
A feast was held in Cebu on May 2, 1521. Twenty-seven Spaniards, including Barbosa and Serrano, went to the feast and were massacred. The Cebuanos killed them because some of them not only robbed the Cebuanos but also raped some of the Cebu women. Those who remained in the ships sailed away when they learned about the fearful massacre.