Rajah Humabon

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Rajah Humabon was the ruler or rajah of Cebu when the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521. Befriended by Magellan, he was later Christianized and given the name of “Don Carlos” (named after the Spanish ruler King Charles). According to Magellan’s Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, it was Humabon who requested Magellan to confront his rival Lapulapu, the datu of neighboring Mactan, leading to the Battle of Mactan.

Encounter with Magellan

In April 1521, with the help of Rajah Kolambu’s men, Magellan and his fleet docked on Cebu and had their first contact with the natives in the island. Rajah Humabon was the chief of Cebu at the time. He, along with his wife, Hara Humamay and their subjects, were converted to Christianity on 14 April 1521. He was given the name “Don Carlos” (after King Charles), while Hara Humamay was called Queen Juana (after Joanne of Castille). Through this move, Magellan proclaimed the unification of all the kingdoms on Cebu island into a single state, with Rajah Humabon as its head of state.

Rajah Humabon and Lapulapu

Rajah Humabon and Datu Lapulapu, one of the two chiefs of Mactan, were already rivals long before the arrival of Magellan. Tension between the two escalated when Lapulapu disobeyed Humabon’s order that rulers of the neighboring kingdoms provide food supplies to the fleet and convert to Christianity.  Humabon and Datu Zula—the other chief of Mactan—convinced Magellan to go to the island of Mactan and force Lapulapu to comply with his orders. When Magellan went to Mactan to seek Lapulapu, Humabon sent two boatloads of soldiers to accompany Magellan’s men to confront Lapulapu in what is known as the Battle of Mactan. Lapulapu’s troops overwhelmed the outnumbered Magellan’s forces, leading to the Portuguese’s death.

May 1 Massacre

Main article: May 1 Massacre After Magellan’s death, Rajah Humabon and his warriors devised a plan to poison and kill the remaining Spanish soldiers in Cebu. Their plan was a success, having killed several soldiers including the then-leaders of the expedition, Duarte Barbosa and João Serrão.


  • Joaquin, Nick. “Lapu-Lapu and Humabon: The Filipino As Twins.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, March-June 1979, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (March-June 1979), pp. 51-58. University of San Carlos Publications.
  • Field, Richard J. “Revisiting Magellan’s Voyage to the Philippines.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, December 2006, Vol. 34, No. 4 (December 2006), pp. 313-337. University of San Carlos Publications.
  • Ruaya, Rhobie Alburo. [ https://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/305850/interesting-facts-about-the-philippines-first-hero-and-the-battle-that-he-led-to-victory “Interesting facts about the Philippines’ first hero and the battle that he led to victory”].Cebu Daily News (Accessed on 15 February 2021).



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