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Opinion

The Spaniards and Portuguese in Cebu - Part 1

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

‘Glimpses in History of Early Cebu’ written by Professor Lina Quimat, published in 1980, gives a narrative of the dynamics of the Spaniards and Portuguese in their interaction with the Cebuanos:

“The controversy on where the Western Islands, as the Bisayan Islands were called, and to what side of the Demarcation Line they were found was still debated by the top officials of Portugal and Spain, but because of the covetous ambition of Magellan and later on of Legazpi, the Spaniards insisted on squatting on the islands. They were the first squatter known then! Coincidentally the natives and the Portuguese unknowingly helped each other- the natives wanted the Spaniards driven out of their land because of their legal right to do so as agreed in the Treaty of Tordesillas. Guido de Lavezares reported on this: “There arrived at this port of Cubu on the 18th of September, 1565, a small vessel of Portuguese whose captain was Antonio Rumbo de Acosta, a person who had already come the year before, to this port with letter from Captain-general Gonzalo Pereyra telling Legazpi that their army is near the port of Cubu and on the 30th of September, 1565 Captain-general Gonzalo Pereyra entered the port of Cubu with a heave fleet of Portuguese. Pereyra demanded that the Spaniards go with them to India and that they should leave the islands, since they were within the demarcation of the king of Portugal.”

“Whether Legazpi and his men went with the Portuguese under Pereyra or not, nothing was said about this but as Legazpi was still in Cebu in 1569, the Spaniards must have tricked the Portuguese. But the natives of Cebu were openly hostile to Legazpi. Everytime a soldier misbehaved, he was beheaded by the natives and so Legazpi had to report to New Spain for some help. And so on July 1, 1569, Legazpi wrote the viceroy of New Spain and described his situation in Cebu, thus: “…We have difficulties with the natives who are very much helped by the Portuguese led by Gonzalo Pereira who are very hostile to us.”

Finally, Legazpi sent their only remaining ship to New Spain to entreat aid in their distress and imminent danger for the Portuguese threatened to drive the Spaniards out of the islands. Legazpi was in tight difficulties and so be offered to the natives that they would do commerce with them as the natives were experts on trade with foreigners of all kinds who kept on dropping anchor at the port of Sugbu in Arab ships. Legazpi offered to do commerce with the Cebuanos so that as soon as the Portuguese would come, they could be protected by the natives.” (To be continued)

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