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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blood Compact Site, Bohol

The island of Bohol is the site of another historic event, known as "Sandugo" or the blood compact between then ruler and chieftain of the island, Datu Sikatuna and Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi held on March 16, 1565. History have told us that the coming of the Spanish to the Philippines was anything but smooth sailing, we all know how Ferdinand Magellan fell to the warrior stance of Lapu Lapu at Mactan Island. Since then succeeding expeditions sent by the kingdom of Spain to the Far East and eventually The Philippines met hostile resistance and was unable to convince local rulers that they had come in peace.



Part of the hostility towards the foreign visitors may have sprung from an earlier Portuguese expedition that happened in 1563 which enslaved and killed many Filipinos in the islands of Cebu and Bohol. The turning point happened when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi was able to convince Bohol chieftain, Datu Sikatuna that they are Spanish and unlike the Portuguese, has in fact come in peace with the intent of establishing trade routes-particularly to expand the spice trade between Spain and new territories like the Philippines.


Thus, the blood compact, a traditional sealing of new found friendship and this historical event has since been celebrated every year in Bohol in what is known as the "Sandugo Festival" with the word "Sandugo" meaning in Visaya as "one blood".

The event was described in an inscription near the monument which reads...

"About the middle of March 1565, the fleet of Captain General Miguel López de Legazpi anchored along these shores. In the course of this visit, López de Legazpi entered into a blood compact with Datu Sikatuna for the purpose of insuring friendly relations between the Spaniards and Filipinos."

The process involves cutting the left arm with a knife or any pointed weapon and letting the blood to drip in a cup half filled with wine, after which the involved parties will drink as a seal of their new found friendship.


The monument is found on the side of the highway, along lines of nearby houses it is almost non telling at first glance, the monument stood on the edge of a cliff that offers a view of the sea, which one can imagine the sight of many Spanish and Portuguese ships trying for years to land on the white sandy beaches of Bohol, only to be repelled by Filipino natives. Until Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna ended the conflict by virtue of their blood compact ceremony.

Thus starting the rich history of Bohol as we know it and the arrival of the Spanish missions who converted major part of the Visayas region into Christianity which in a hundred years was able to spread itself throughout the Philippine archipelago.

To sum it up, the blood compact monument is nothing grand, its almost like an after thought driving through the hi-way of Tagbilaran, with the only reminder of its importance are the parked vans on the side of the road and tourists taking pictures. Without it, you might miss it.



But nonetheless, it was indeed a historic monument no to be missed by those wanting to learn about our history. As for that simple act between two people from different race and nations separated by oceans apart sealed the fate of our two countries that will remain entwined for the next hundreds of years and even lasting to the present day.

I was really glad to just visit this monument and at the same time wonder what if, Datu Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi instead of drinking a cup of wine mixed with their blood, just ventured out and tried to kill each other.



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