Rajah Humabon

Rajah Humabon, later baptized as Don Carlos, (died 27 April 1521) was the Rajah of Cebu (an Indianized Philippine polity). Humabon was Rajah at the time of the arrival of Portuguese-born, Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines in 1521.[1] There is no official record of his existence before the Spanish contact in 1521. The existing information was written by Magellan's Italian voyage chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta on Humabon and the indigenous Philippine peoples that existed prior to Spanish colonization.

Rajah of Cebu
Reignunknown-27 April 1521
PredecessorSri Parang the Limp
SuccessorRajah Tupas
BornCebu, Rajahnate of Cebu
Died27 April 1521
Kedatuan of Mactan
SpouseHara Humamay (Juana)
HouseRajahnate of Cebu
FatherSri Bantug
ReligionHinduism (before 1521)
Roman Catholicism (after 1521)

Rajah Humabon is cited as the reason for why Magellan fought in the Battle of Mactan, as the latter wanted to earn the trust of Humabon by helping him subdue his opponent Lapulapu, the datu of Mactan.[2][3]

Legendary accountsEdit

There is no official record of the origins of Rajah Humabon prior to the arrival of Magellan. According to tradition, Humabon (also known as Sri Hamabar) was the son of Sri Bantug, and the grandson of Sri Lumay. His ancestor, Sri Lumay, a native from Sumatra and a member of the Chola Dynasty, established the Rajahnate of Cebu, and sired at least four known sons, namely Alho, Ukob, Parang the Limp, and Bantug (father of Rajah Humabon).[4]

Sri Alho ruled a land known as Sialo which included the present-day towns of Carcar and Santander in the southern region of Cebu.

Sri Ukob ruled a kingdom known as Nahalin in the north which included the present-day towns of Consolación, Liloan, Compostela, Danao, Carmen and Bantayan. He died in battle, fighting with the tribal group known as magalos from Mindanao.[5]

A third brother was Sri Parang the Limp, but could not rule because of his physical infirmity.

Sri Bantug, the youngest, ruled a kingdom known as Singhapala[6][7] (a variation of the Sanskrit Singha-Pura, "City of the Lion", which is also the root of Singapore), [8] in a region which is now part of Cebu City, who later died of disease and was succeeded by his son Sri Hamabar, also known as Rajah Humabon. Because of his infirmity, Sri Parang handed Bantug's throne to Bantug's son Humabon as regent, and Humabon became the rajah (king) of Cebu.

Spanish contactEdit

When Sri Bantug died Sri Parang became his successor, but due to his limp he passed the throne to Humabon.[9] The phrase Cata Raya Chita was documented by historian Antonio Pigafetta to be a warning in the Malay language, from a merchant to the Rajah. Following Pigafetta's inscription, the phrase is creole Malay for "Kata-katanya adalah raya cita-cita". The phrase may mean "What they say is mainly ambitious": kata-kata ("words"), –nya (second person possessive), adalah ("is/are"), raya (great, main, large), cita-cita ("ambitious"). Another interpretation is that the phrase was spoken by merchants under the authority of Rajah Humabon was actually the Old Malay Kota raya kita, meaning "We are of the great fortress": Kota ("fortress"), Raya ("great"), Kita ("we"). The meeting between Rajah Humabon and Enrique of Malacca, the slave accompanying Magellan's voyage, was documented by Antonio Pigafetta and Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and is evidence that Old Malay was understood in parts of what is now the Philippines.

Conversion to Catholicism, betrayal of Magellan's crewEdit

According to historical accounts, Rajah Humabon was among the first indigenous converted to Catholicism after he, his wives, and his subjects were baptized by the expedition's priest. On 14 April 1521, Humabon was christened Carlos in honor of King Charles I of Spain, while his chief consort, Hara Humamay was given the name Juana, after Charles' mother, Joanna of Castile. He also made a blood compact with Magellan, as a sign of friendship; according to Pigafetta, it was Humabon who had requested Magellan to kill his rival, Lapulapu, the datu or chieftain of nearby Mactan Island.

After the death of Magellan at the Battle of Mactan and the consequent failure of the Spanish to defeat Lapulapu, Humabon and his warriors plotted to poison the remaining Spanish soldiers in Cebu during a feast. Several men were killed, including the then-leaders of the expedition, Duarte Barbosa and João Serrão.

According to the chronicler Pigafetta, Serrão, begging to be saved from the Cebuano tribesmen, allegedly referred to Enrique (Magellan's slave) as having instigated the massacre by claiming to Humabon that the Europeans planned to take over the rajahnate.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Product of the Philippines : Philippine History Archived October 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ocampo, Ambeth (November 13, 2019). "Lapu-Lapu, Magellan and blind patriotism". Inquirer.net. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  3. ^ Mojarro, Jorge (November 10, 2019). "[OPINION] The anger toward the 'Elcano & Magellan' film is unjustified". Rappler. Rappler Inc. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  4. ^ Ouano-Savellon, Romola (4 May 2018). ""Aginid Bayok Sa Atong Tawarik": Archaic Cebuano and Historicity in a Folk Narrative". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 42 (3/4): 189–220. JSTOR 44512020.
  5. ^ Marivir Montebon, Retracing Our Roots – A Journey into Cebu’s Pre-Colonial Past, p.15
  6. ^ Ouano-Savellon, Romola (2014). ""Aginid Bayok Sa Atong Tawarik": Archaic Cebuano and Historicity in a Folk Narrative". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 42 (3/4): 189–220. JSTOR 44512020. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  7. ^ "The Aginid". Philstar.com. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Early Cebu History". www.cebu-bluewaters.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  9. ^ Jovito Abellana, Aginid, Bayok sa Atong Tawarik, 1952

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