Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cebu Cross Up Close

Iconic Magellan's cross against the ceiling's infamous mural
The limited space around the icon
My sis offering a sinulog
It is my third time in Cebu but it is the first time I got to scrutinize the Magellan Cross up close. It is not conducive to linger in the famous tourist spot' premises as the pergola enclosing the cross has limited space. It is also unfortunate that tourists are persistently interrupted by enterprising locals.  There are peddlers selling souvenirs, kids begging for coin change and of course the popular sinulog dancers. My sister was persuaded by a manang to buy some candles and offer a prayer. But at least I learned 3 things about this famous Cebu landmark.

Trivia 1: Sinulog dancers ask you to buy a handful of thin colored candles to offer at the foot of the cross. The dancer would also ask your name and jam it in prayer chant.  They recite the memorized lines so quickly that the only words you could discern are a few words and the name. And while performing the oration, they sway their hips as if they are doing a dance. I am not sure what happens to the offered candles which are not lit, but just left bundled at the ledge.
Countless unlit candles - what will happen to them?
Worm's eye view of the cross
Trivia 2:  Magellan's cross is enclosed in a veneer of tindalo wood to protect it.  Tindalo is a native tree (Afzelia rhomboidea), nice premium hardwood with reddish color.  I am not sure what the cross underneath is made of. 

Inscription about the cross
Trivia 3: It is not certain if the cross displayed in the pergola is the original brought to Cebu by Magellan. Some suspect the 1521 cross was taken back by Magellan's entourage when they left the island. The one enclosed in tindalo is what they discovered marking the site in the 1700's, which is probably a replica. They preserved it to commemorate the event.  Now, original or not, it has become an iconic symbol of the queen city.     

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