Plaza Hamabar: Tribute To A Cebuano King

The first Filipino ruler to embrace Christianity was the ruler of Cebu when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew first set foot on Cebu.

Rajah Humabon or Sri Hamabar was baptized on 7 April 1521 along with his chief consort, Hara Humamay. Also baptized were around 800 of his subjects. Humabon was christened Don Carlos in honor of Charles V, the King of Spain. Lady Humamay was christened Juana in honor of the mother of Charles V. In remembering the occasion and as baptismal gift, Magellan gave Queen Juana the image of the child Jesus (Santo Niño) through Antonio Pigafetta. To commemorate the baptism of the natives by Father Pedro Valderrama, Magellan erected a cross on the site where the Magellan's Cross now stand. The conversion of the natives to Christianity is also depicted on a painting at the ceiling of the chapel or kiosk where the Magellan's Cross is kept.

Rajah Humabon statue at Plaza Hamabar
Statue of Rajah Humabon

Who Is Rajah Humabon?

Rajah Humabon was considered the wisest and bravest man in the island of Cebu. He made a blood compact with Magellan. According to Antonio Pigafetta, he convinced Magellan to kill Datu Lapulapu of Mactan. Lapulapu was Humabon's chief rival. We all know Magellan failed.

According to an account from the Aginid, shortly after Magellan died in the Battle of Mactan, the Spaniards raped the women of Cebu. In retaliation, Rajah Humabon poisoned many of the Spaniards in a feast.

Pigafetta had a different account. He chronicled that the Europeans were massacred because Rajah Humabon feared that they were planning to take over the kingdom.

Plaza Hamabar: A Tribute

A monument erected as tribute to Rajah Humabon is located right in front of the Cebu Archdiocesan Museum. It is a plaza aptly named the Plaza Hamabar. In the plaza is an obelisk and a statue of Rajah Humabon. Brief information about Rajah Humabon can be found at the base of the obelisk. One will notice that Rajah Humabon is tattooed all over his body. Tattooing a common practice among pre-Hispanic Visayan natives.

Not many locals or tourists actually visit Plaza Hamabar. Visiting Plaza Hamabar will actually help you better understand pre-historic Cebu. It will also help us appreciate our history better.