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Birorang Batungay, the Warrior Princess of Sugbo

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - April 14, 2021 - 12:00am

Buried in Cebu’s history is the tale of the bravery and sacrifice of Sugbo’s Birorang (meaning princess). She was the sister of Haring Tupas, the last Malay King of the Kingdom of Banawa, now called San Nicolas.

Batungay, outraged by the abuses of the Legazpi and his men, poisoned them, causing the death of some soldiers. She was hanged after her deeds were found out. This is how Prof. Lina Quimat (“Glimpses in History of Early Cebu”, published in 1981) narrated her story:

“Helping King Tupas fight the Spaniards, Birorang Batungay. She sold the palm wine (tuba) at the trading center where the men of Legazpi always went in big groups. Birorang Batungay found these men rude and were heavy drinkers of the palm wine and as they were their enemies, she garbed herself in men’s clothing, squeezed some poisonous vine (tuble) into the jars of palm wine until it was found that most men of Legazpi died of poisoning. Legazpi investigated the tragedy but could not pinpoint the culprit. Batungay stopped selling the palm wine at the trading center.

“The Spaniards could not pinpoint the person who poisoned the men of Legazpi. They were confused and scared. Soon after, Legazpi called all the natives and required them to confess their sins to the Spanish priests in order to catch the criminal. And as confessions were never supposed to be divulged, all of them went to confess. Birorang Batungay, the sister of King Tupas confessed! She was hanged!

“Batungay was reported to Castille as ‘one of the brothers of King Tupas’ because of her steel wits and courage which were that of a man when she helped her brother fight the Spaniards.”

Tupas was the son of Hari Garra, the son of Humabon also known as Hamabar. The other sibling of Birorang Batungay aside from Tupas, was Magguio, also known as Simaguio.

God bless Cebu, the birthplace of heroes and heroines, the home of great men and women.

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