Sunday, June 8, 2014

Retracing the Past in Rajah Humabon Park and Dining at the Rodeo Grill (Cebu City)

I chanced upon this mostly ignored little park after visiting Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, just across the Cebu Diocese residence. It's really just a small slice of forgotten history etched on a parcel of land not usually mentioned in travel books. But it might as well be.

Rajah Humabon was the first chieftain to embrace Christianity. When Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed here on a Sunday, April 7, 1521, Humabon was regarded as the bravest and wisest man of the island. As a symbol of their newfound friendship, the rajah sealed his friendship with Magellan with a Blood Compact. Soon thereafter, the chieftain was captured by Christianity's noble teachings and henceforth converted.

On a Sunday morning, exactly a week after Magellan's arrival, Rajah Humabon and his wife, Queen Humamal were baptized along with 800 Cebuanos. The Rajah was baptized as Carlos, in honor of King Charles V of Spain. His wife was baptized Queen Juana after the Spanish King's mother. As a remembrance to this occasion, Magellan gave Queen Juana an image of the Child Jesus as a gift, while a large cross was erected to mark the baptismal site. In this simple tale of baptism lies the advent of Christianity and Catholicism in the Philippines, Southeast Asia's predominantly Catholic nation.

Origin of the Names: Cebu, Mandaue, Mactan
It was during Humabon's reign that the region became an important trading center. The harbors of Sugbo became known colloquially as sinibuayng hingpit ("the place for trading"), shortened to sibu or sibo ("to trade"), from which the modern name "Cebu" originates.
In the same period, Lapulapu Dimantag arrived from Borneo. He aought the help of Humabon for a place to settle. He was offered the region of Mandawili (now Mandaue City), including the island known as Opong (or Opon), hoping that Lapu-Lapu's people will cultivate the land. Lapu-Lapu succeeded in doing so, and the influx of farm produce from Mandawili enriched the trade port of Sugbo further.
The relationship between Lapu-Lapu and Humabon deteriorated later on when Lapu-Lapu turned to piracy. He started raiding merchant ships passing by the island of Opong, affecting trade in Sugbo. The island thus earned the name Mangatang (literally "bandit" or "those who lie in ambush"), later evolving to "Mactan".
Now consider if Rajah Humabon did not welcome Magellan and his galleon ships? Would there be Mactan or Mandaue? We would probably be a nation of Muslims like the rest of Southeast Asia.

In the vicinity of Humabon Park, I found Patria de Cebu which is said to accept indigent people seeking affordable accommodations. I even heard that a small room could be had for PhP250 for a month's stay. Now that's budget housing, sin't it? Also in the vicinity, aside from the Cebu Cathedral, is Cebu Eastern College which looks like it's seen better days.

Later that day, I checked out "Rodeo Grill Restaurant", the only stand-alone restaurant (i.e. not a part of a guesthouse or a hotel) along Archbishop Reyes Street in Cebu's Ayala Center. Before the advent of Tune Hotel's 7-11, Rodeo Grill was the only restaurant one could find along this row of hotels.

Rodeo Grill specializes in barbecues and grills and their fast food entrees are labelled "Cowboy Meals". I picked the very tasty lonestar fish at PhP119. Rodeo Grill has this rustic, southern atmosphere. It's located near Hotel Elizabeth and set back to a quiet side street from Archbishop Reyes's occasionally congested road.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Patria de Cebu

Cebu Eastern College

My tasty lonestar fish at the Rodeo Grill Restaurant.

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