Rajahnate of Cebu

Rajahnate of Cebu
Gingharian sa Sugbo
Kaharian ng Cebu
Kerajaan Sugbu
c. 1200–1565
Capital Singhapala
Languages Old Cebuano, Old Malay
Religion Syncretic form of Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism (see also Polytheism)
Government Kingdom
   ?–1565[1] Tupas Felipe (last)
   Established c. 1200
   Conquest by Spain 1565
Succeeded by
Viceroyalty of New Spain
Spanish East Indies
Today part of  Philippines

Rajahnate of Cebu (Cebuano: Gingharian sa Sugbo; Filipino: Kaharian ng Cebu; Baybayin: ᜄᜒᜑᜇᜒᜀᜐᜐᜓᜊᜓ ; Malay: Kerajaan Sugbu) was an Indianized monarchical polity on the island of Cebu prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It was founded by Sri Lumay or Rajamuda Lumaya, a minor prince of the Chola dynasty which occupied Sumatra.[2] He was sent by the Maharajah to establish a base for expeditionary forces but he rebelled and established his own independent rajahnate.[3]


According to Visayan folklore, Sri Lumay, was a Half-Tamil & Half Malay[2] from Sumatra, who settled in the Visayas, and had several sons. One of his son was Sri Alho, who ruled a land known as Sialo which included the present-day towns of Carcar and Santander in the southern region of Cebu. Sri Ukob ruled a polity known as Nahalin in the north which included the present-day towns of Consolación, Liloan, Compostela, Danao, Carmen and Bantayan. He died in battle, fighting with the Muslim Moro pirates known as magalos (literally "destroyers of peace") from Mindanao.[4] The islands they were in were collectively known as Pulua Kang Dayang or Kangdaya (literally "[the islands] which belong to Daya").[5]

Sri Lumay was noted for his strict policies in defending against Moro Muslim raiders and slavers from Mindanao. His use of scorched earth tactics to repel invaders gave rise to the name Kang Sri Lumayng Sugbo (literally "that of Sri Lumay's great fire") to the town, which was later shortened to Sugbo ("scorched earth").[5]

Sri Lumay was succeeded by the youngest of his sons, Sri Bantug, who ruled from a region known as Singhapala, which is now Mabolo of Cebu City. He died of disease. Sri Bantug had a brother called Sri Parang who was originally slated to succeed Sri Bantug. But he was a cripple and could not govern his polity because of his infirmity. Parang handed his throne to Sri Bantug's son and his nephew, Sri Humabon (also spelled Sri Hamabar), who became the Rajah of Cebu in his stead.

During Rajah Humabon's reign, the region had since become an important trading center where agricultural products were bartered. From Japan, perfume and glass utensils were usually traded for native goods. Ivory products, leather, precious and semi-precious stones and śarkarā (sugar) mostly came from India traders and Burmese people traders.[2] The harbors of Sugbo became known colloquially as sinibuayng hingpit ("the place for trading"), shortened to sibu or sibo ("to trade"), from which the modern Castilian name Cebú originates. It was also during Humabon's reign that Lapu-Lapu arrived from Borneo, and was granted by Humabon the region of Mandawili (now Mandaue), including the island known as Opong or Opon (later known as Mactán). First contact with the Spanish also occurred during Humabon's reign, resulting in the death of Ferdinand Magellan.[5]

The phrase Kota Raya Kita[6] was documented by historian Antonio Pigafetta, to be a warning in the Old Malay language, from a merchant to the Rajah and was cited to have meant:

"Have good care, O king, what you do, for these men are those who have conquered Calicut, Malacca, and all India the Greater. If you give them good reception and treat them well, it will be well for you, but if you treat them ill, so much the worse it will be for you, as they have done at Calicut and at Malacca."[7]

In reality, this phrase is that of Kota Raya kita, an indigenous Malay phrase of merchants under the authority of Rajah Humabon, with a meaning in English of: "our capital city": Kota (fortress), Raya (great, hence Kotaraya (capital city)), kita (we).

Sri Parang, the limp, also had a young son, Sri Tupas, also known as Rajah Tupas who succeeded Rajah Humabon as king of Cebu.[3]

This Rajahnate was dissolved during the reign of Rajah Tupas by the forces of conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi in the battle of Cebu during 1565.[1]

See also

Pre-hispanic History of the Philippines
Barangay government
Ten datus of Borneo
States in Luzon
Luyag na Kaboloan (Pangasinan)
Kingdom of Maynila
Kingdom of Tondo
States in the Visayas
Kedatuan of Madja-as
Rajahnate of Cebu
States in Mindanao
Rajahnate of Butuan
Sultanate of Sulu
Sultanate of Maguindanao
Sultanate of Lanao
Key figures
Sulaiman II · Lakan Dula · Sulaiman III · Katuna
Tarik Sulayman · Tupas · Kabungsuwan · Kudarat
Humabon · Lapu-Lapu · Alimuddin I · Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram
History of the Philippines
Portal: Philippines


  1. 1 2 William Henry Scott (1992), Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino: and other essays in Philippine history, New Day Publishers, ISBN 978-971-10-0524-5.
  2. 1 2 3 The Rajahnate of Cebu, The Bulwagan Foundation Trust.
  3. 1 2 Jovito Abellana, Aginid, Bayok sa Atong Tawarik, 1952
  4. Marivir Montebon, Retracing Our Roots – A Journey into Cebu’s Pre-Colonial Past, p.15
  5. 1 2 3 Celestino C. Macachor (2011). "Searching for Kali in the Indigenous Chronicles of Jovito Abellana". Rapid Journal. 10 (2).
  6. Approximated as Cata Raya Chita using Italianate orthography.
  7. Pigafetta, A., Nancy-Libri-Phillipps-Beinecke-Yale codex, Skelton, R.A. English translation. pg 71

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