Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 10): A Visit to the Fake(?) Magellan’s Cross

A visit to Ciudad de Cebu will never be complete without seeing the city’s iconic symbols: the image of Santo Niño and Magellan’s Cross. Both of these icons were gifts of the Purtoguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the Cebuanos.

My third visit to Magellan’s Cross was about one year after the destructive earthquake in Bohol. The earthquake is so strong that it destroyed the bell tower of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.

Fortunately, the earthquake didn’t destroy Magellan’s Cross Shrine. However, it still has to undergo some repairs so the whole shrine was supported by wooden braces during my visit.

Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

The Magellan’s Cross Shrine is just a walking distance from the Basilica of the Santo Niño. It is located just in front of the Cebu City Hall.

Magellan’s Shrine is very accessible to public transport. Any tourist can hail taxi cab to go here. Another alternative, particularly for those who want to save money, is by riding a multicab with a Cebu Cathedral placard.

Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

I am glad that the shrine was not closed to the public despite the fact that it is under renovation. What’s missing are the old manangs who offer prayers (for a fee) and dances in front of Magellan’s Cross. I think the cross is already off limits to them while the Shrine is under repair.

Just like in my first visit, Megallan’s Cross Shrine still has no entrance fee.

Magellan's Cross in Cebu City

Magellan’s Cross survived the earthquake but it still had to be supported by wooden braces.

The cross was erected by Ferdinand Magellan after Rajah Humabon, king of Sugbu, and his subjects converted to Christianity.

The marker at the foot of the cross says that the cross on display is made of Tindalo wood that encases the original cross that was planted by Magellan on the current spot of the Shrine in 1521.

Marker of Magellan's Cross in Cebu City

The original Magellan’s Cross was encased in another wooden cross to protect it from the elements and from people who chip parts of the cross for its alleged miraculous powers.

It is difficult to believe that Magellan’s Cross existed for more than 500 hundred years. There are many people who argue that the current Magellan’s Cross is a fake and that the original cross was destroyed a long time ago. Some even say that Rajah Humabon destroyed the original cross as a proof to Lapu-Lapu that he is no longer allied with the Spaniards.

Rajah Humabon, after the defeat of Magellan in the Battle of Mactan, feared retaliation from the victorious Lapu-Lapu. So, he massacred the remaining Spaniards to show that he is no longer allied with them. I guess that the destruction of the original Magellan’s Cross by Humabon’s men is not too farfetched.

Another proof that the original Magellan’s Cross is gone is that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who finally colonized the Philippines for Spain, made no mention of the cross. The discovery of the image of Santo Niño was mentioned but there is no account on Magellan’s Cross. The lack of mention to an important relic such as the Cross may mean that it no longer exists.

Mural on the ceiling of Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

The mural on the ceiling of Magellan’s Cross Shrine depicts two scenes that happened during Ferdinand Magellan’s sojourn in Cebu. The scenes are the planting of the Cross and the other is the baptism of Rajah Humabon and his subjects.

Painters of the mural in Magellan's Cross Shrine, Cebu City

The mural was painted by Serry M. Josol and Jose Ma. Roa in 1965.

Unfortunately, little is known about these two painters. Even Google couldn’t provide reliable information. Jose Ma. Roa's surname is similar to the middle name of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. I wonder if the two are relatives.

There is a great possibility that the original Magellan’s Cross is already gone and that what is displayed in the shrine is just a replica. However, this does not reduce the importance of Magellan’s Shrine because it commemorates an important piece of Filipino history and the birth of our Christian Faith.


Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 17): A Great View of Cebu City from Tops Busay
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 16): A Taste of Mandarin in Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 15): Taboan the Pasalubong Center of Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 14) – My Accidental Visit to Mt. Carmel Church
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 13): Another Visit to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 12): Why Cebuanos Call Mama Mary as Birhen sa Regla?
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 11): Sto. Niño Basilica - Mother and Head of All Churches of the Philippine Islands
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 9): The Story of Rajah Humabon - King of Cebu
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 8): Calle Colon, the Oldest Street in the Philippines
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 7): The Worst Cebu Hotel
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 6): The Colorful Lighthouse of Lilo-an
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 5): The Mysterious Church of Lilo-an
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 4): Bagacay Point Lighthouse
A Foretaste of Cebu in Mactan Cebu International Airport


Information for this post was obtained from the following sources:

Magellan's Cross in Cebu Living