Created by virtue of Act 2711 of March 10, 1917, the island province of Bohol is the tenth largest island in the country. This oval-shaped province is located in the central portion of the Visayas lying between Cebu to the northwest and Leyte to the northeast. To its south is the big island of Mindanao, which is separated from Bohol by the wide Mindanao Sea. Aside from the mainland, Bohol has 72 smaller offshore islands and islets. Bohol is about 803 kilometers south of Manila and is about 79 kilometers southeast of Mactan Island.
The people of Bohol are said to be the descendants of the last group of inhabitants who settled in the Philippines, called Pintados (the tattooed ones). Before the Spaniards came in 1521, Boholanos already had a culture of their own, as evidenced by the artifacts dug at Mansasa, Tagbilaran, and in Dauis and Panglao, using designs associated with the Ming Dynasty (960-1279). They had already a system of writing although most materials used were perishable, like leaves and bamboo barks. They spoke a language similar to that of the nearby provinces.
The name Bohol is thought to be derived from the name of the barrio of Bo-ol, a barangay found in Tagbilaran City, which was among the first places toured by the Magellan expedition. History has it that one of the Spanish ships of Magellan (the Concepcion) was burned in this province after Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu in Mactan.
Between 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan became the first from Europe to reach Asia by sailing west and where he would meet an untimely death on the islands that would become known as the Philippines, and 1564, Spain sent four more expeditions to colonize some part of the East Indies in their race with Portugal to control the lucrative spice trade but all failed. It wasn’t until Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, sailing from Mexico with four ships and nearly four hundred men, reached the Philippines in the early part of 1565 that a Spanish settlement was finally established.
Establishing a colony wasn’t any easier for Legazpi than for the five previous expeditions. Like Magellan forty years earlier, Legazpi met hostile native warriors uninterested in foreign invasion. An attempted landing on the island of Cebu resulted in the death of one of his soldiers and prompted Legazpi to weigh anchor to seek friendlier isles with the fate of Magellan certainly on the back of his mind.
Attempting to sail south toward Mindanao, Legazpi’s fleet met contrary winds that forced them northward to the island of Bohol. Here he captured a trading vessel from Borneo whose Mohammedan Malay pilot gave him the information that the Filipinos there carried on trade with the Moluccas, Borneo, Java, Malacca, India, and China. This fateful shift in the winds would lead to an alliance with native kings that finally gave the Spaniards their opportunity for colonization.
THE LEGAZPI – KATUNA BLOOD COMPACT – 1565
At Bohol, Legazpi first noticed the hostility of the people. From the Mohammedan Malay pilot he gathered the information that such hostility was due to the marauding expeditions conducted by the Portuguese from the Moluccas, and, since the Spaniards look like Portuguese, the Bohol inhabitants naturally mistook them to be the white vandals. As late as 1563 the Portuguese raiders prowled the Visayan waters, plundered Bohol, and killed or enslaved about 1,000 inhabitants.
Legazpi, with the aid of the Malay pilot, explained to the two kings of Bohol, Katuna (Si Katuna) and Gala (Si Gala) that the Spaniards were not Portuguese and that they had come on a mission of peace not to destroy, kill or plunder. On learning this, the Bohol kings and their people became friendly and welcomed the Spaniards.
On March 16. 1565, Legazpi and Katuna performed a blood compact to seal their friendship. A few days later Legazpi had a similar pact with Gala. In his report to Philip II, Legazpi described the ceremony of the blood compact in the following words:
“It is observed in the following manner: one from each party draws two or three drops of blood from his own arm or breast and mixes them in the same cup, with water or wine. Then the mixture must be divided equally between two cups, and neither person may depart until both cups are alike drained.”
Pages: 1 2