Speech of Hilario P. Davide III Governor of the Province of Cebu at the “Gabii sa Sugbo”

Hilario P. Davide III
Governor of the Province of Cebu
at the Gabii sa Sugbo

[Delivered at Provincial Capitol Social Hall, Cebu City on August 8, 2014]

“ Sa dagat sa Mactan nga imong gilubog sa dugo sa mga mapanamastamason; ang alho nga gidaldal sa kamot mong daw puthaw, sa dakong kalagot imong gibunal ngadto kang kinsa sa lungsod buot mo-agaw.” From the poem “Lapulapu” by Vicente Padriga.

Cebuanos enjoy a long lineage of heroes starting from Lapulapu, and perhaps even farther down the unwritten history of our blessed island.

I mentioned Lapulapu because his heroism identifies the Cebuano spirit and placed Cebu on the map of the world as early as 1521. Lapulapu was unafraid of Ferdinand Magellan, the foreigner who he thought was an ally of a rival tribe, a perceived enemy, and who therefore threatened his freedom. Foremost in Lapulapu’s mind was the defense of his land against any menace even if it were majestically attired.

In a very real sense, the virtues of Filipino nationalism and patriotism were sown in Cebu.

We celebrate today the 445th anniversary of the Province of Cebu, which will forever be remembered as the first settlement of the Spaniards in the Philippines, and for years, it served as the capital of the colony. This places the founding of the province in the year 1569.

But even before the Spaniards arrived, Cebu had been a thriving civilization. The first Spanish settlers observed that Cebu had the largest population among the islands they encountered, and it had well-organized communities.

The Cebuanos were generally a peaceful people, as they did welcome foreigners hospitably. But they also did not tolerate the maltreatment of their brothers and sisters. We learn from Legazpi’s correspondences to Spain that the Cebuanos refused to befriend him as the memory of abuse by Portuguese sailors was still fresh in their minds.  And the Cebuanos made it clear that they were prepared to repel Legazpi and his men, by  force if need be. In the end though, the inhabitants proved no match for the superior artillery of the foreigners.

Cebu proved strategic to the Spaniards, as it had a port big enough to allow several warships to dock, and its central position in the archipelago facilitated control of the southern islands. But the Spaniards’ tenure in Cebu was uneasy. The foreigners had upset the balance of subsistence farmers relied upon by the natives, their very presence was destroying the Cebuanos’ way of life. And so the foreigners met with much resistance throughout their stay in Cebu. The Cebuanos were at the forefront in the struggle for independence against Spain.

The Cebuanos’ defiance of foreign domination, further demonstrated during the Philippine-American War. Where the island proved instrumental to the control of southern Philippines, and during the Second World War, is a matter of record. Then too, in the struggle against the martial law regime of the unlamented President Marcos, Cebu produced outstanding leaders.

As we look upon 445 years of history,  we remember the achievements of the notable sons and daughters of Cebu. The same heritage of heroism that stirred these men and women to excel in their respective fields lives in each of us. This is evident from the rebuilding of Cebu after every calamity, be it natural, man-made, or politically contrived. To this day, the shining moments when Cebuanos joined arms for a massive reconstruction effort are an encouragement for local government units across the nation, and an inspiration to Cebuanos themselves.

The past year, has been filled with challenges: from the maritime collision last August, to the massive earthquake that shook our region last October, and to super typhoon Yolanda that swept through the northern part of our province last November – each testing the limits of our capacities to cope, and our willingness to survive and overcome these tragic events. We have faired well so far.

Over the past few months, as we have transitioned from being reactive to becoming productive, our focus now turns to anticipation for future calamities and setbacks; preparation for future continued growth; and the development of the livelihoods of our constituents , through necessary collaborative programs and vital infrastructures. As I have said  in the past, we must all work together, combine our efforts and contribute to the future of Cebu, which is our legacy.

Cebu, it seems, is an island which arouses heroism in many forms, and the many achievements of the natives of Cebu lead us to no other conclusion than that we are indeed worthy to be called Cebuanos.

The thought alone of what those who came before us, and what you, have achieved, motivates me to exert my utmost in the service of our fellow Cebuanos.

Being a Cebuano is neither a gift nor a burden. It is not a heritage that can be spent frivolously or flaunted thoughtlessly.  Neither is it a liability nor a disadvantage. Being Cebuano is, rather, a responsibility, an obligation to be mindful of our rich heritage, to value that fragile treasure, and to ensure its endurance for generations to come. This heritage can only be preserved if we contribute to it, adding our lives to a long line of Cebuanos who have thought less of themselves and more of their country and countrymen.

My fellow Cebuanos, thank you for the inspiration you have provided us in our work here at the provincial government.

Let us celebrate our history. Let us celebrate our rich culture, community, natural resources and industries. Let us celebrate our heroes, both past and present. But most importantly, let us celebrate together.

God bless all of us. Mabuhi and Sugbo, mabuhi ang Sugboanon.