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Digital Tourism

Interactive history

The full and historical story of Magellan’s Cross is much more interesting. We’re telling it using modern technology and devices.

Every day, thousands of tourists visiting the Magellan’s Cross are told that the cross you see there “Encases the Original Cross Planted By Ferdinand Magellan On This Very Site.”

That’s not true. But that’s what tourists are told by guides and that’s what they read on the sign.

We just installed our interactive tourism markers at the site as part of our Digital Tourism initiative geared toward the 2021 commemoration of the introduction of Christianity into the country.

The markers are installed at the cross and at the nearby Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. If you have an iPhone or an Android device that supports it, all you need to do is open your camera, point it at the marker and make sure the viewfinder covers the entire code. You will then get a prompt to open the information about the Magellan’s Cross.

MAGELLAN’S CROSS. A visitor reads about the history of the Magellan’s Cross and views archival photos of the kiosk after scanning the interactive Digital Tourism marker placed there.
MAGELLAN’S CROSS. A visitor reads about the history of the Magellan’s Cross and views archival photos of the kiosk on his phone after scanning the interactive Digital Tourism marker placed there.

If you have an NFC device (newer mid- to high-end Android devices have this), you don’t even need to scan. You just make sure NFC is turned on (swipe down to check the settings) and place your phone near the NFC logo of the marker and you will be able to download the info about the Magellan’s Cross.

The full story of Magellan’s Cross is much more interesting.

Antonio Pigafetta wrote that the last thing they saw as they quickly weighed anchor to escape the May 1 massacre by Rajah Humabon and his men was that of angry Cebuanos tearing down the cross they put up upon their conversion to Christianity and smashing it to bits.

National artist and historian Dr. Resil Mojares said the cross could be that planted by Augustinian Martin de Rada. It was called the cross of Rada and was reputed to be miraculous because it was untouched by a fire, although made of bamboo, that razed houses around it.

The Augustinians built an enclosure to protect it because pilgrims would chip away splinters as relics.

In her dissertation on the Santo Niño de Cebu for her doctorate in anthropology, Astrid Sala-Boza said “there is no archeological or historical evidence that this cross is actually the original (or at least the site of the original) Magellan’s cross.”

“Instead, because of its proximity to the Basilica, the site of the finding of the Holy Image during Legazpi’s expedition, there is the possibility that the cross could be “Legazpi’s cross” (now encased in wood),” Sala-Boza wrote.

By Max Limpag

Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu City, Philippines. He is co-founder of the journalism start-up InnoPub Media.