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Coordinates: 10°18′59″N 123°53′27″E 10.3163179, 123.8909018



  • Overview
  • History

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Cebu then known as Zubu (or Sugbo) was a trading post, with trade routes to Borneo, Indonesia, China and Arabia.[1]

The Magellan Expedition

Losing favor for his plan of reaching the Spice Islands by sailing westward from King Manuel I of Portugal, Portuguese maritime explorer Ferdinand Magellan offered his services to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain. On September 20, 1519, Magellan led a flotilla of five ships with a crew of 250 out of the Spanish port of San Lucar de Barrameda enroute to the Spice Islands via the Americas and Pacific Ocean.

They reached the Philippine Archipelago on March 17, 1521. Raja Kolambu of Mazzaua in Mindanao told them to head for Cebu, where they could trade and have provisions.

Arriving in Cebu City, Magellan, with Enrique of Malacca as translator, befriended Raja Humabon of Cebu and persuaded the Raja of allegiance to Emperor Charles V of Spain. Later Raja Humabon and his wife were baptized as King Carlos and Queen Juana. The Santo Niño was presented to Cebu's Queen as a symbol of peace between the Spaniards and the Cebuanos. On April 14, Magellan erected a large wooden cross on the shores of Cebu. Afterwards, some 800 native Cebuanos were baptized.

Hoping to make the new Christian King Carlos (Humabon) supreme in the region, Magellan be-friended Humabon and alliances developed between the two people. Magellan soon heard of a tribal ruler named, Lapu-Lapu, in nearby Mactan Island. It was thought that Raja Humabon and Lapu-Lapu have been fighting for control of the flourishing trade in the area.

On April 27, the historic Battle of Mactan occurred where Magellan was killed and his men were driven off the island by the natives of Mactan. According to historian and chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's body was never recovered despite efforts to trade for it with spice and jewels.

Magellan's second-in-command, Juan Sebastián Elcano took his place and sailed the remainder of the fleet back to Spain, circumnavigating the world.[1]

The Spanish Conquest and Colonial Period

Survivors of the Magellan Expedition brought tales of a savage island in the Orient with them when they returned to Spain. Consequently, several follow-up expeditions were sent but all ended in failure.

Forty-four years after Magellan first set foot in Cebu, in 1565, conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi and his 500 armed soldiers together with several Augustinian and Franciscan friars arrived and declared that the Spanish crown succeeded in colonizing the islands. Legazpi and his men then marched through Zugbo and bombarded the palisades of chieftain Rajah Tupas and destroyed the village. He and his men, later rebuilt it and called it Villa del Santíssimo Nombre de Jesús (Village of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). Thus, in 1569, it became the first Spanish settlement established by the Spanish Cortés in the Philippines.

On August 14, 1571, Cebu (Villa del Santíssimo Nombre de Jesús) became a Diocese. Legazpi departed for Manila in 1571, and employed garrisons, a governor and half of his soldiers in Cebu.

In 1860, Cebu opened its ports to foreign trade (Mojares xiv). The first printing house ("Imprenta de Escondrillas y Cia") was established in 1873. In 1880, Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion was established. The first periodical ("El Boletin de Cebu") started publishing in 1886.

June 12, 1898 marked the end of the Spanish era and the onset of the American regime. In 1901, Cebu became a municipality and on February 24, 1937 became a chartered city.[1]

World War II

Cebu, being the most densely populated island in the country, served as a vital Japanese base during the Japanese occupation in World War II which began with the landing of the Japanese Imperial Army in April 1942. Almost three years later in March 1945, an American force landed and reoccupied the city. [1]


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