When Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, working for the crown of Spain, arrived in Cebu in 1521, he was warmly received by the chieftain of Cebu, Rajah Humabon, his wife Queen Juana, and their subjects. Magellan then persuaded Humabon to form an alliance with Spain. Afterwards, Humabon, his wife and their subjects were baptized into the Roman Catholic faith.
On April 14, 1521, Magellan planted a wooden cross on the shores of Cebu to commemorate the baptism of Humabon, his wife and their subjects, and to signify the establishment of Christianity in the Philippines. The cross that Magellan planted has been known since then as the Magellan’s Cross. Since 1834, the cross and has been housed inside a small chapel or kiosk that is shape like a gazebo and made of adobe and red tiles.
The kiosk is located beside the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes Street and in front of the city hall building of Cebu City. A plaque was placed just above the entrance of the kiosk in 1941.
The plague says that “From time immemorial this spot has been set aside to commemorate the erection of a cross in Cebu by the Expedition of Magellan. When King Humabon of Cebu and his Queen, son and daughters, together with some 800 of their subjects were baptized by Father Pedro Valderrama. This hallowed site was improved in 1735 by Rev. Juan Albarran, Prior of San Agustin and in 1834 by Rt. Rev. Santos Gomez Maranon Bishop of Cebu. The image of the Santo Nino found by the expedition of Legaspi in a house near the present site of the Cathedral of Cebu is venerated by the faithful in the nearby Church of San Agustin.”
When you enter inside the kiosk, you will see the Magellan’s Cross situated in the center. The ceiling above the cross has paintings that depict the arrival of Magellan and the planting of the cross, and the baptism of Rajah Humabon, his wife and their subjects.
A sign below the cross states that the original cross is encased inside a cross made of tindalo wood. That was done to protect the original Magellan’s Cross from people who chipped away parts of the cross in the belief that the cross has miraculous powers or for souvenir purposes.
However, some historians and other people believe that the original cross had been destroyed or had disappeared after Magellan was killed, and that the cross encased inside the tindalo wood cross is a replica that was planted there by the Spaniards who came after the death of Magellan.
Today, the Magellan’s Cross is a popular tourist attraction in Cebu. It is also a symbol of Cebu City and the kiosk’s image can be found in its official city seal. In addition, many government and non-government organizations based in Cebu use the Magellan’s Cross or the kiosk in their seals and logos. The Magellan’s Cross is seen as the symbol of the establishment of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines.