Blood Compact 500 Years Ago

Posted on 29 March 2021
By National Quincentennial Committee Secretariat

On this day, 500 years ago, Colambu, the rajah of Limasawa (in today’s Southern Leyte), entered into a peace pact with Ferdinand Magellan, the captain-general of the Magellan-Elcano expedition. This, according to Gines de Mafra, one of the survivors of the expedition via the flagship Trinidad. According to Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the expedition, the locals called the pact casi casi, whose root word kasi¬†generally means ‘dear,’ ‘one with,’ ‘in communion with’ or ‘friend’ in various Philippine languages. The Italian chronicler recorded that the two leaders entering this pact used to incise either their arms or breasts to extract droplets of blood, mixed them with wine–probably the pangasi or rice wine, which was used in ceremonies–and drank it. Anthropologists and scholars interpreted casi casi as a way of reminding the two leaders that they were united symbolically by blood, regardless of whether they were blood relatives or not, and had the responsibility of helping each other like siblings in times of planting, harvesting, and most especially war, yet respectful of the autonomy of their respective authority and barangay (‘community’).

Pigafetta also recorded this rite in Cebu in April 1521 between Rajah Humabon and Magellan (although uncertain whether it pushed through) and in Quipit (in today’s Kipit, Labason, Zamboanga del Norte) between Rajah Calanao and Juan Carvalho, the successor of Magellan, in May 1521. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi entered into this kind of rite with Sicatuna of Bohol; and in 1570 in Manila, between Legazpi’s master-of-camp Marin de Goiti and Rajah Matanda, together with his heir Soliman. Ancient Tagalogs called it sandugo. Blood compact is still alive among the Blaans and Tagaolo peoples of Malungon, Sarangani Province, calling it sadyandi. To know about the sadyandi, check out Mindanao State University General Santos City Professor Hanee Saloria-Badilles’ quincentennial lecture here [https://bit.ly/3foc2kY].

Herbert S. Pinpino’s Blood Compact Reimagined (2020) Oil on Canvas, a grand prize winner of the Quincentennial Art Competition in the theme “Unity.” Courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
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