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Cebu's History

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Ferdinand Magellan

 

Between the 13th and 16th century Cebu then known as Zubu (or Sugbo) was an island inhabited by Hindu, animist and Muslim ruled by Rajahs and Datus. It was a kingdom of the defunct Rajahnate of Cebu. The Rajahnate of Cebu was a native kingdom which used to exist in Cebu prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. It was founded by Sri 'Lumay' otherwise known as 'Rajamuda Lumaya', a native prince of the Chola dynasty which had invaded Sumatra in Indonesia. He was sent by the Maharajah to establish a base for expeditionary forces to subdue the local kingdoms, but he rebelled and established his own independent Rajahnate instead. The arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 established a period of Spanish exploration and colonization. Losing favour for his plan of reaching the Spice Islands from king Manuel I of Portugal, by sailing west from Europe, Magellan offered his services to king Charles I of Spain.

 

On September 20, 1519, Magellan led five ships with a crew of 250 people from the Spanish fort of Sanlúcar de Barrameda en route to Southeast Asia via the Americas and Pacific Ocean. They reached the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Rajah Kolambu the king of Mazaua told them to sail for Cebu, where they could trade and have provisions. Arriving in Cebu City, Magellan, with Enrique of Malacca as translator, befriended Rajah Humabon the Rajah or King of Cebu and persuaded the natives of allegiance to Charles I of Spain. Humabon and his wife were given Christian names and baptized as Carlos and Juana. The Santo Niño was presented to the native queen of Cebu, as a symbol of peace and friendship between the Spaniards and the Cebuanos. On April 14, Magellan erected a large wooden cross on the shores of Cebu. Afterwards, about 700 islanders were baptized. Magellan soon heard of Datu Lapu-Lapu, a native king in nearby Mactan Island, a rival of the Rajahs of Cebu. It was thought that Humabon and Lapu-Lapu had been fighting for control of the flourishing trade in the area. On April 27, the Battle of Mactan occurred where the Spaniards were defeated and Magellan killed by the natives of Mactan in Mactan Island.

 

According to Italian historian and chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's body was never recovered despite efforts to trade for it with spice and jewels. Magellan's second in command, Juan Sebastián Elcano took his place as captain of the expedition and sailed their fleet back to Spain, circumnavigating the world. Survivors of the Magellan expedition brought tales of a savage island in the East Indies with them when they returned to Spain. Consequently, several Spanish expeditions were sent to the islands but all ended in failure. In 1564, Spanish explorers led by Miguel López de Legazpi sailing from Mexico arrived in 1565 and established a colony. The Spaniards fought the King Rajah Tupas and occupied his territories. The Spaniards established settlements, trade flourished and renamed the island to "Villa del Santíssimo Nombre de Jesús" (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). Cebu became the first European settlement established by the Spanish Cortés in the Philippines.

 

In 1595, the Universidad de San Carlos (University of San Carlos) was established and in 1860, Cebu opened its forts to foreign trade. The first printing house ("Imprenta de Escondrillas y Cia") was established in 1873 and in 1880, the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion (College of the Immaculate Conception) was established and the first periodical The Bulletin of Cebu ("El Boletin de Cebú") began publishing in 1886. In 1898, the island was ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War. In 1901, Cebu was governed by the United States for a brief period, however it became a charter province on February 24, 1937 and was governed independently by Filipino politicians. Cebu, being one of the most densely populated island in the Philippines, served as a Japanese base during their occupation in World War II which began with the landing of Japanese soldiers in April 1942. The 3rd, 8th, 82nd and 85th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army was re-established on 1942 to 1946 and the 8th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary was re-established again on 1944 to 1946 at the military general headquarters and the military camps and garrisoned in Cebu City and Cebu Province and started by the Anti-Japanese military operations in Cebu from April 1942 to September 1945 and helping Cebuano guerrillas and fought against the Japanese Imperial forces.

 

Almost three years later in March 1945, combined Filipino and American forces landed and reoccupied the island during the liberation of the Philippines. Cebuano guerrilla groups led by an American, James Cushing is credited for the establishment of the Koga Papers which is said to have changed the American plans to retake the Philippines from Japanese occupation in 1944, by helping the combined United States and the Philippine Commonwealth Army forces enter Cebu in 1945. The following year the island achieved independence from colonial rule in 1946. After the war, Cebu recovered and it grew and developed to become an important economic center in the southern Philippines and contributed to the country’s economic growth and development. Cebu City today is a vast cosmopolitan city described as one of the busiest and most thriving in Asia.

Datu Lapu-Lapu

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Datu Lapu-Lapu (1491–1542) was a ruler of Mactan, an island in the Visayas, Philippines, who is known as the first native of the archipelago to have resisted the Spanish colonization. He is now regarded, retroactively, as the first Filipino hero. He is also known under the names Çilapulapu, Si Lapulapu, Salip Pulaka and Kali Pulako (alternatively spelled as Cali Pulaco) though the historicity of the names are disputed. Lapu-Lapu became one of two datus of Mactan (Matan) before the Spanish arrived in the archipelago, the other being a certain Zula. When Portuguese explorer and conquistador Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in the service of Spain, Zula was one of those who gave tribute to the Spanish king while Lapu-Lapu refused. On the morning of April 27, 1521, Lapu-Lapu led 1,500 Mactan warriors (Mangubats) armed with barong, spears,kampilan, and kalasag, in a battle against Portuguese explorer and conquistador Ferdinand Magellan who led a force of forty-nine Spanish soldiers armed with guns in what would later be known as the Battle of Mactan. During the battle Magellan and several of his men were killed.

 

The historian William Henry Scott believes that Lapu-Lapu's hostility may have been the result of a mistaken assumption by Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan assumed that ancient Filipino society was structured in the same way as European society (i.e. with royalty ruling over a region). While this may be true in the Islamic sultanates in Mindanao, the Visayan societies were structured along a loose federation of city-states (more accurately, a chiefdom). The most powerful datu in such a federation has limited power over other member datu, but they had no direct control over the subjects or lands of the other datu. Thus Magellan believed wrongly that since Rajah Humabon was the "king" of Cebu, he was the king of Mactan as well. But the island of Mactan, the domain of Lapu-Lapu and Zula, was in a location that enabled them to intercept trade ships entering the harbor of Cebu, Humabon's domain. Thus it was more likely that Lapu-Lapu was actually more powerful than Humabon. Humabon himself was married to Lapu-Lapu's niece. When Magellan demanded that Lapu-Lapu submit as his "king" Humabon had done, Lapu-Lapu purportedly replied that "he was unwilling to come and do reverence to one whom he had been commanding for so long a time".

Fort San Pedro Military Fortification Cebu

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Fuerza de San Pedro is a military defence structure, built by Spanish and indigenous Cebuano labourers under the command of Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and the Spanish Government in Cebu. It is located in the area now called Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City, Philippines. The smallest, oldest triangular bastion fort in the country was built in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders. In turn, it served as a stronghold for Filipino revolutionaries near the end of the 19th entury. This served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. The fort is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and the third side fronting the land. The two sides facing the sea were defended with artillery and the front with a strong palisade made of wood. The three bastions were named La Concepción (SW); Ignacio de Loyola (SE), and San Miguel (NE). It has a total inside area of 2,025 square metres (21,800 sq ft). The walls are 20 feet (6.1 m) high, 8 feet (2.4 m) thick and the towers are 30 feet (9.1 m) high from the ground level. The circumference is 1,248 feet (380 m). The sides are of unequal lengths and the one fronting the city is where one may find entry into the Fort. Fourteen cannons were mounted in their emplacements most of which are still there today. Work first started on May 8, 1565 with Miguel Lopéz de Legazpi breaking ground.

 

Little was known about the activity of the fort from the time it was built until two centuries later in 1739 when the King of Spain, Philip II desired information regarding the island of Cebu, Governor General Tanon, who was the Spanish ruler of the Islands at the time made the following reports: Fuerza San Pedro, the fort is described as built of stone mortar with a terraplein where guns are mounted. The fort contains the necessary buildings. The largest of these buildings was the "Cuerpo de Guardia" where the personnel that manned the fort lived. Adjacent to it was the "Vivende del Teniente" which was the living quarters of the lieutenant of the Fort. In between the aforementioned buildings is a well. At one corner attached to the walls of the bastion San Miguel (NE) was the "Alamazaros del Rivera" (powder magazine where the fort's supply or arms and gunpowder from Manila were stored). The date of construction of the stone fort is uncertain. Although there are claims that a Jesuit Antonio Campioni built a stone fort in 1630, and the gate of fort bears the date 1738 together with the arms of Castile and Leon. It is certain, however, that the fort underwent major renovations in the late 19th century as part of a building program to improve Cebu City. The victory of the Americans led by Commodore Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 marked the end of the Spanish era in the Philippine Islands. The fort was then surrendered by the Spaniards to the Cebuano revolutionaries. Fort San Pedro became a part of the American Warwick Barracks during the American Regime. In later years from 1937 to 1941 the barracks was converted into a school where many Cebuanos received their formal education.

 

During World War II from 1942 to 1945, Japanese residents of the City took refuge within the walls. When the battle to liberate the City of Cebu from the Imperial Japanese forces was fought, the fort served as an emergency hospital for the wounded. From 1946 to 1950, Fort San Pedro was an army camp. After 1950, the Cebu Garden Club took over and fixed the inner part and converted it into a miniature garden. Although already in ruins, the upper deck was utilized for different offices. First, as a clinic of the City Health, as office of the Presidential Arm and Community Development then the City Public Works Unit used the ruins of the Lieutenant's Quarters as its field office. In 1957 Mayor Sergio Osmeña Jr. jolted the public with his announcement to demolish Fort San Pedro and erect on the spot a new City Hall. This started a movement against the demolition idea. Articles voicing opposition appeared in the local dailies and magazines in Cebu City and in Manila. Finally, confronted by civic leaders and society heads at his Cebu City Hall office, he gave up his idea and said he will use instead the space behind the fort. In the very same year, the city council commissioned "The Lamplighter", a religious sect, to manage a zoo subsidized by the city within the fort courtyard. By 1968, the facade, quarters and walls of the original structures of Fort San Pedro were so obliterated that only the two towers were recognizable. Plans for the restoration of the fort was started and the zoo was relocated.

 

Plans and estimates for the restoration of the fort were completed by Architect Leonardo Concepcion, who had completed his MA in Restoration in Madrid. The project was jointly funded by the Board of Travel Industry (now Department of Tourism), the Cebu City Government, and the Cebu Zonta Club. The Fort San Pedro Restoration was a tedious, time and labor consuming project. To restore the fort as close to the original as possible, coral stones which were hauled from under the sea along Cebu coastal towns were utilized. Delivered crudely cut to the restoration site, the fort labourers did the final cutting and polishing to make the blocks fit each other. Work progressed slowly but the facade, the main building, (Cuerpo de Guardia), the walk and the observatory roof garden were faithfully restored after one and a half years. To make the project functional; the restored main building serves then as the Cebu Office of the Department of Tourism, the Lieutenant's Quarters now houses a museum, the inner court is an open air theatre and its immediate vicinity as a park. At present, it is under the care and administration of the City of Cebu as historical park. The land on which it is situated is, however, owned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. These days, part of the fort is a museum. Inside the fort houses the legacies of the Spanish Government. The well preserved Spanish artifacts such as Spanish documents, paintings and sculpture. A large statue of Legazpi and Antonio Pigafetta may be seen outside the fort walls.

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