|Photo Courtesy of gotouring.com|
The month-long Sandugo Festival, tagged as the mother of all festivals, is an annual historical celebration in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, which commemorates the blood compact between Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legaspi and Datu Sikatuna, a chieftain in Bohol, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. This is considered as the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos.
The festival used to be held in March until it was changed to July a few years ago to coincide with the annual Tigum Bol-anon Tibuok Kalibutan, a gathering of Boholanos from all around the world. The main highlight of the event is the street dancing competition held along the warm streets of Tagbilaran City.
This celebration re-enact the 16th century peace treaty occurred on March 16, 1565 through a "sandugo" or blood compact.
“Sandugo” is Visayan word which means "one blood." The Sandugo began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi in Bohol in 1565 and the establishment of allegiance by Datu Sikatuna to the king of Spain. They made a cut on their left arm with a dagger and poured their blood into a cup filled with wine, which they both drank in honor of their friendship.
By performing a blood compact, it preserves the bond of friendship between two tribes. This ceremony was the first treaty of friendship between the natives, and the Spaniards. In honor of this ceremony, the former President of the Philippines Elpidio Quirino established the Order of Sikatuna, a presidential decoration conferred upon politicians. Juan Luna, a Filipino painter, depicted this event in his painting entitled The Blood Compact (El Pacto de Sangre) in 1883. El Pacto de Sangre obtained the first prize in Paris in 1885 and at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of St. Louis in 1904. At that period, it was an important part for tribes to perform the sandugo as part of the peace process.
The Sandugo is depicted in both the provincial flag and the official seal of the government in Bohol. It also features the image of the blood compact. The top of the seal explains the history behind the Sandugo event that occurred in Bohol, the fleet and the location where the Spaniards anchored and the place where the treaty was conducted which was dated on March 16, 1565.