The Santo Niño de Cebú was originally produced by Flemish artisans, according to hagiography, based on a vision of Teresa of Avila, a mystic of the 16th century, it was brought into the islands that we now call the Philippines were previously called Cibiles Islands or the San Lazaro Archipelago and were discovered by Hernando de Magallanes who set sail in 1519, arriving to the islands in 1521 and taking them into possession by Spain to later die on the spot, in a war that had the King of Cebu with the King of Matan and for the second time they were taken into possession in 1527 by orders of the Marquis del Valle who sent Alejandro Saavedra for the act.
King Felipe II ordered the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to send people to their new islands to be populated and religious preached, his instructions were to take the «light» of the holy gospel entrusting the task of St. Augustine without invading the Moluccan Islands that At that time they were owned by the King of Portugal.
In early 1521, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in the service of King Carlos V was on his voyage to find a westward route to the Spice Islands. On April 7, 1521, he landed in Limasawa, Southern Leyte, and met a local ruler named Raja Kulambu, who introduced him to Rajah Humabon, ruler of Cebu Island, and his chief consort, Hara Humamay.
On April 14, 1521, Magellan presented them with three gifts: an Ecce Homo (Wooden Bust of Jesus), an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Santo Niño as part of their baptism, and a strategic alliance for territorial conquest. As the host ruler adopted the Catholic faith, he took the Christian name of Carlos (after Charles V), while Humamay was christened Juana (after Joanna of Castile, Charles’ mother).
According to Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s companion and memoir writer, along with the ruler, about 500 males there, along with the Queen and 40 women were also converted by Father Valderrama. At the ceremony, for example, the Raja Kulambu of Limawasa also converted and was renamed Don Juan, while his Muslim captain was renamed, Don Cristobal.
A few days after the baptism, Magellan undertook a war expedition on the behalf of the newly named Carlos, attacking Mactan Island and burning down hamlets who resisted. The residents led by Lapu Lapu defended Magellan’s attack with force, and Magellan died on 27 April 1521 in the Battle of Mactan, about three weeks after he had arrived in the Philippines. After Magellan’s death, his Spanish colleagues left.
The next Spanish expedition arrived on April 27, 1565, again to gain a foothold for a colony to trade spices, and this was led by Miguel López de Legazpi, they were soon recognized by the natives and more than a thousand Spaniards formed along the beach armed with spears and cutlass, the delegation kindly informed them they were coming in peace and to prevent Magellan’s luck (who was brutally murdered), the General charged the artillery pieces and muskets to attack the natives, clearing the beach and the fire hit some stores where they had rice and livelihoods.
Legazpi attempted peaceful colonization, but the initial efforts were rejected. The opened fire burnt the coastal town down destroying 1500 homes and possibly killing 500 people. In the ruins of this destruction, the Spanish mariner Juan Camus found the image of the Santo Niño in a pine box. According to the local legend, the survival of the statue was seen as a sign of miracle by the colonizers, and ever since it has been believed to have miraculous powers, this was one of those the greatest treasures they could wish for and imagine; it was a very beautiful and shining wooden Jesus boy who was like a new dress with a touch, a hairy cap and with the world in his left hand.
The soldier who discovered him began to shout to those who came many companions and made many screams and took him to the General who when he saw him fell on his knees and began to give him a thousand kisses on the feet, beginning to cry while everyone cheered: IT IS A MIRACLE
Magellan had arrived in Cebu 46 years ago, however, the natives were so young that when the General asked them about the origin of the Santo Niño, none knew how he had come there because since they were born they knew him and told him that he had done too many goods because when they had no water they would kneel on their knees and he would give rain to them and they would also took him out through the fields as if in procession to ask for water and gave it to them as well. And it was in this place of worship that the first church in the Philippines was founded, the Convent of the holy name of Jesus.