I distinctly recall a Yoyoy Villame tune playing every week over our house when I was a kid as I walked the few meters from the Sto. Niño Minor Basilica to Cebu’s iconic Magellan’s Cross.
When Magellan landed in Cebu City, Rajah Humabon met him, they were very happy
All people were baptized and built the church of Christ, And that's the beginning of our Catholic life
Comedic annotations aside, mention Cebu to anyone and the first probable thought balloon that would pop over their heads is the Cross of Magellan—besides lechon, that is, for food crazy persons like me haha. The iconic cross has been the link to our country’s fanatic devotion to the Catholic faith and has been standing on the same grounds where it has been erected by the first chronicled Europeans who stepped into our country 491 years ago.
The historic cross is housed on an octagon-shaped chapel located on a street eponomously named after the famous Portuguese explorer. Its walls are constructed of similar cut stones that make up the nearby Basilica, punctured by grilled arched openings and roofed over by red tegula tiles.
Unlit colorful candles are piled on the cross’s base; prayers offered by people passing through the chapel. Each hue has its own corresponding meaning; pinks for happiness, green for success, yellow for health and peace, blue for the devotion to Mother Mary and red for the devotion to the Sto. Niño.
The candles are sold at Php10.00 each and are already inclusive of the Sinug prayer to be performed by the vendor. The rite is similar to the dance steps performed during the Sinulog Festival, with the practitioner moving two steps forward and one step backward while waving the unlit candle and chanting prayers. The candles remain unlit to protect the shrine from the smoke emitting from its wick.
A depiction of Ferdinand Magellan and Rajah Humabon’s meeting is immortalized on the circular mural above the cross; armor-clad warriors bearing flags and spears, the famous historian Pigafetta transcribing the meeting, a priest saying a mass and the local Rajah helping plant the immortal cross.
According to the historical marker on the base of the cross, the original cross erected by Magellan is encased inside the smooth icon one sees today. It was said that devotees used to take chipped portions of the original one, believing it to have mystical powers, leading to its encasement over a Tindalo wood, a native hardwood kin to that of Mahoganies.
But as with anything covered up; rumors abound that only a replica resides inside the outer wood shell and not the original Magellan’s Cross. According to Antonio Pigafetta’s accounts, the cross was torn down by the natives the night after the Battle of Mactan during a surprise dinner attack. This left the remaining Spaniards to abandon the island and set their sails back to Spain.
But whatever kind of cross may be encased inside, what really matters is the spirit and essence that Magellan’s Cross has spread over the country. Besides the centuries of cruelty and cultural slavery associated with the Spanish Cross, it has also created a deeply-rooted Christian faith based on goodness and equality in our land. One may even argue that the cross that Magellan and Rajah Humabon has planted on this very same spot is the founding root, may it be negative and positive, of the current culture of the Filipinos.
Address: Plaza Sugbo, Magallanes st., Brgy. Sto. Nino, Cebu City
Entrance Fee: None
GPS Coordinates: 10.293475,123.901984
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here