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Cebu

Plaza Hamabar

Hamabar was one of the names of Rajah Humabon, the leader of Cebu, a flourishing trading post and settlement since the 10th century. He was also known as Humabad.

Humabon was regarded as the “wisest and bravest man on the island” of Sugbu (Cebu), the “king and lord over eight chieftains and over 2,000 lancers,” according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

“He was chieftain of the confederation of barangays and known as their supreme ruler. Cebu was then an entrepot, with a flourishing trade with Siam (Thailand), China, Borneo, etc. This was evident in the ornaments that adorned the bodies and clothes of its people, as well as in the fine china used in its royal houses and court.” the NHCP said.

Humabon was the chieftain of Cebu when the Armada de Molucca headed by explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu in 1521.

The chronicler of that expedition, Antonio Pigafetta, described him as a short and fat man who had his face painted with fire in diverse patterns.

PINTADOS. This image shows Visayan Pintados – so called because of the tattoos that cover their bodies. The image is part of the Boxer Codex a manuscript written in the late 1500s that contained illustrations of ethnic groups in the country. Humabon, like many Visayans, was also covered in tattoos.
PINTADOS. This image shows Visayan Pintados – so called because of the tattoos that cover their bodies. The image is part of the Boxer Codex a manuscript written in the late 1500s that contained illustrations of ethnic groups in the country. Humabon, like many Visayans, was also covered in tattoos.

“We found the king of Zzubu at his palace, seated on the ground on a mat of palms, with many people. He was naked except for a linen cloth covering his private parts, and round his head a very loose cloth, embroidered with silk. Round his neck he had a very heavy and rich chain, and in his ears two gold rings hung with precious stones,” read a translation of Pigafetta’s writings.

Humabon was named Carlos after the Spanish king when he was baptized together with his subjects into the Catholic faith by Magellan. His young and beautiful wife, given the name Juana like the king’s mother, was gifted with the image of the Sto. Niño in gratitude for their hospitality.

In memory of this man stands Plaza Hamabar, located across the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu in Mabini St.

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