The Philippine Independence Day is a very important event in Philippine history because it marked the early chapters of the Filipinos fighting for freedom from the Spanish colonization.
Yes, people actually fought for the freedom that we have today but many of us have forgotten. Life during the Spanish regime was tough, but did you know that the Cebuanos contributed to the independence that we are all celebrating today?
Do you remember Ferdinand Magellan? He was the Portuguese who assembled the Spanish expedition and explored the world. Magellan is known for his circumnavigation around the globe where he settled in Cebu. This led to the “discovery” of the Philippines and sparked a war between the locals and the Spanish troops.
Below are some bits and pieces of how the Cebuanos contributed to the independence that we are all enjoying at this very moment.
When Magellan arrived in Cebu, he befriended the ruler of Cebu Island, Rajah Humabon. A story goes that Rajah Humabon’s grandson was ill and needed immediate treatment and Magellan was able to help them. To return the favor, Rajah Humabon and his queen agreed to be baptized in the Roman Catholic faith. Afterward, Magellan gave them a gift of an image of Jesus known as Sto. Nino, as a symbol of their relationship.
The acceptance of the Christian faith was born in Cebu– which is probably why Cebu seems to be one of the most religious islands in the Philippines. How the rest of the people in the Philippines became Christians is history.
While our acceptance of Christianity opened the door for the Spanish and American rulership, it also became a blessing in disguise for our own local warriors to rise up and resist change the hard way. Thus, a contribution to the independence.
Before the Spanish colonization even took place, Lapu-Lapu, a native Cebuano warrior, and ruler first took the initiative to defend Cebu against the foreigners who wanted to claim our land. He fought against the giants and won! This war was is known as the Battle of Mactan. He didn’t think that is was a good idea for some foreign people to dominate the country just like that.
This happened after Rajah Humabon built an alliance with Magellan. The Rajah commanded all to convert to Christianity and to recognize Magellan’s authority but Lapu-Lapu resisted.
Because of this, Magellan went to Lapu-Lapu to start a battle. It was in that war when Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu’s men. This event is particularly important to our history because it symbolizes strength and resistance for other nationalities to rule over us.
Arcadio Maxilom from Tuburan
Fast forward after the Battle of Mactan, more people participated in revolutions to resist and stop the foreign colonization. Among the local heroes that we have is General Arcadio Maxilom.
Maxilom continued the revolution that Leon Kilat started in Cebu after his death, and made the Spanish leave Cebu before Christmas. After Spain’s surrender, they sold the Philippines to America and the Philippines, again, had to succumb to the new power.
Juan Climaco was rich and affluent in his town, Tuburan, where he governed as a gobernadorcillo. He was powerful, too, but he put his power and riches to good use by supporting the revolution and resisted the Spanish and American rule with General Maxilom, and together surrendered to the American rule. He is known as the “Brains of the Resistance”.
Luis Flores y Perez
Perez became a leader and a pioneering member of the Katipunan revolution here in Cebu. He was known as “Unos”, meaning “Storm” in Cebuano. He fought together with Fransisco Llamas.
Teofisto Cavan was one of the leaders of the Katipunan that was organized in Cebu. He was chosen by Leon Kilat to head the revolution. After his name was dropped to the Spanish troops, he was tortured together with Florencio Gonzales, another Cebuano Katipunan leader.
Both of them remained silent until their death and became the first Cebu revolution martyrs.
Alongside the few Cebuano heroes written on this page are still thousands of unsung heroes, undocumented and not given recognition. This article hopes to bring a reminder to this generation that the Philippine Independence Day is more than just a regular holiday where we can spend more time with ourselves, rather, a day that embarks a revolution that was led by our brave Katipuneros to bring freedom to our country.