Where it all began
I was talking to Ate Mindex in the CLAY Office last week during my short stint in Cebu. Our chat brought to topic the history of Cebu which for a long time had perplexed me. The History that was taught me in elementary studies touched little on the topic. However, I feel that there is more to the story of the place where I grew up than what I know now.
This is always the question of history and its importance. History is tied to culture and both are essential to a people. If Cebuanos were to remain ignorant of their rich history, even pre-dating Spanish colonization, then we would never fully understand ourselves as a people much less set a path for the future.
One of the questions that intrigue me is the place of Pasil and of San Nicolas in history. Was it really probable that Magellan landed in the shores of Suba and San Nicolas? Was the kingdom of Raja Humabon established in the area of San Nicolas? And much more importantly, did the first Filipino baptized Christians live there?
In the dawn of 500 years of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, I find these questions become more important. An air of ignorance and lack of interest in our history as a people looms over the celebration. How can we ever claim to be “us” when we never fully understood who we “were”? The dilapidated and disharmonious sight of the area reflect this reality. As the celebration breaks the dawn, our people remain sleepy and stagnant to this glorious arrival of Christ in Cebu’s shores.
I believe that we need to address the following points:
- Educate and enlighten our people to our rich history. There are already good online sources for reading: Pigafetta’s account of Magellan’s last days in Cebu and with it the description of the early Cebuanos; an interesting article on the Kingdom of Sugbu or the Rajanate of Cebu; or Eskrima’s quest to understand its history.
- Incite people to take interest in Cebuano, Philippine, and Christian history. Get to know the etymology of the name of your hometown. Read and share folklore.
- Reflect and discern on the identity and future of our people. What is our identity as Cebuanos, as Filipinos in this globalized world? How do we proceed from here in which we embrace progress but at the same time preserve our traditions, values, and culture?
- Push our leaders, both government and Church, to prepare for the 500 years celebration. Will we let this chance to celebrate a historical landmark slip through our hands when it is in our very lifetime?