From where I stood, I could see the sapphire seas touch the cobalt skies. I was on a balustraded viewing deck along the national highway, being treated to a view of the ocean. The gentle wind was kissing my cheek and tousling my hair but it was the view that had all my attention. At the moment, I wondered just how much fun I would have in this island, which had always been sitting on the top of my bucket list. But it was not the view that I came here for.
Moments later, a busful of tourists flooded to the site and, like reflex, headed straight to the monument, the centerpiece of the site — the Sandugo Shrine.
I can imagine that foreign tourists on their first step on the site must be wondering what’s in this monument, why it is significant, or why they should bother. Locals, however, must have a clue if not grasp its importance fully. The sandugo (blood compact) was taught (or is taught?) at primary schools in the Philippines. I remember when I was a kid, I was already fascinated with Bohol because our textbook highlighted some of what makes the province special — the Chocolate Hills, the Philippine tarsier, and the Sandugo.
Sandugo literally means “one blood.” Said to be a tradition in the island, the sandugo is solemn pledge that marks the bond of friendship between two tribes. It is binding and must be honored by both parties. In history, the most famous Sandugo was performed by the chieftain of Bohol Datu Sikatuna and Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi on March 16, 1565. This was considered the first friendship treaty between the Filipinos and Spaniards.
The truth is, this monument does not mark the actual spot where the historic treaty was made. The government of Bohol found in 2006 the actual site where it happened and it is located in Loay, the municipality between Alburquerque and Loboc. The actual site did not have a more visual monument and had only a marker and a painting embedded on a wall behind it.
How to get to Sandugo Shrine: From Tagbilaran airport, take a tricycle to the Sandugo Shrine. It is usually part of the common Countryside Tour. If you’re taking this tour, just ask your travel agency or driver to stop here.