If you think that Cebu Island holds monopoly of a rich heritage resulting from its multi- colored past, think again. For another Visayan Island very close to Cebu is also a bastion of a historical past. In Tagbilaran City, Bohol Island stands a monument that symbolizes the first treaty of friendship between a native ruler and a foreign explorer. This monument was built by the Philippine Historical Committee and the National Historical Institute.
History has it that Rajah Sikatuna, chieftain of Bohol and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, Spanish conquistador made the very first documented blood compact on March 16, 1565, at this very site where the Sandugo Shrine in Bohol is erected.
Sandugo, the Visayan word for ‘one blood’ was performed according to the native tradition of sealing and thus preserving the bond of friendship. Such act was considered a very essential part of the peace process at that time. It was done by making a cut on the wrist or chest of each of the two leaders with drops of the blood being mixed with wine or water in the same cup. Consequently, the mixture was divided equally into two. Then both leaders drank it until both cups were drained while the chosen representatives of the two parties stood as witnesses.
Today, Tagbilaran City holds a historical celebration every year that draws so many people from near and far to witness the commemoration of Sandugo ceremony. Historically, the blood compact is considered as the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. For this, the Sandugo Shrine became one of the most historically significant sites in Bohol, and perhaps in the entire Visayas region. Life- sized statues of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna along with few witnesses can be found on this shrine flocked by tourists. Made of bronze and crafted by the national artist, Napoleon Abueva, such icons are important landmarks that compliment a very scenic backdrop of natural views.
The Blood Compact was perfectly captured by famous Filipino painter Juan Luna in his painting with the same title which won for him 2 international awards. On his part, former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino established the Order of Sikatuna, a presidential decoration conferred upon politicians, in order to give the ceremony due respect.
Located in Barangay Bool, the Sandugo Shrine in Bohol is a genuine historical milestone, something of so much importance to the people of Bohol. Now they are sharing it to the whole world. Your trip to the island will never be complete without paying it a visit.