The Legendary Singhapala Karajaan



Academicians and history writers have both critiqued and celebrated Jovito Abellana’s recorded dance epic that is known as Aginid Bayok sa Atong Tawarik, which we shall call the Aginid Legend. This tale tells us about a sea-faring prince by the name of Raja Muda Lumaya who landed in the precolonial Cebu with his royal household and warriors.


Raja Muda Lumaya, known as a rebellious prince, is said to be part-Tamil and part-Malayan noble from the Chola Empire of Sumatra, and his title raja muda suggests that he was a crown prince. He was then ordered by a maharaja to establish a military outpost in the ancient Philippines for exploratory missions — instead, Lumaya founded his own kingdom.


It is believed that in the village of Mabolo, Raja Muda Lumaya founded his kingdom: the Singhapala Karajaan. And interestingly, when Singhapala is translated to English, it means the “Lion City”, which is similar to Singapore.

It is also noteworthy to mention that in 1521, during the Magellan Expedition, Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta mentioned a Cebuano settlement called Cinghapola, which may support the historical claim of the Aginid Legend’s Singhapala.

Lumaya must have ascended to become a raja or a king when he founded the Singhapala Karajaan. And according to lore, Raja Lumaya was a benevolent, wise king, and his kingdom was so great that “not a single slave ran from his rule”.


Raja Lumaya had sons whose names were Sri Ukob, Sri Ahlo, Sri Parang, and Sri Bantug. And together with his sons, Raja Lumaya expanded his sovereignty all throughout Cebu and nearby islands.

To Sri Ukob, he was appointed to govern the northern district known as Nahalin, which included the modern-day Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Danao, Carmen, and Bantayan.

As for Sri Ahlo, he was appointed to govern the southern district known as Siahlo, which is now Valladolid, Carcar, and Santander.


It is described that the Singhapala Karajaan was a modern kingdom in ancient times. Its laws and edicts were broadcasted by their umalohokans, otherwise known as their native town criers and reporters.

Its people were educated to read and write by their teachers called magalamags. It had naval and military capabilities in where their mangubats or warriors could protect their kingdom. And its districts were governed by just princes.

Soon, the Singhapala Karajaan became a global and regional entrepôt, managing the exchange of high-end products between Cebu’s neighboring islands and faraway kingdoms, such as China, Burma, Japan, and India.


However, not every day was sunny and pleasant in the Singhapala Karajaan, for dark and fiery days were upon them when a group of raiders, who came from the southern part of the olden Mindanao, began pillaging the ancient Cebu. Raja Lumaya called these raiders as the Magalos, the disturbers of the peace.

Fierce battles with the Magalos ensued, and to defeat the Magalos, Lumaya used the scorched-earth tactic by setting the invaded part of Cebu on fire as they withdrew or engaged their enemies.


As the lore continued, the Magalos became the mortal enemies of the ancient Cebuanos. And for the rest of Raja Lumaya’s life, he and his sons battled against these notorious pirates.

Soon, the neighboring islanders began calling the whole of the Singhapala Karajaan as Kang Sri Lumaya ng Sugbu, which means “Sri Lumaya’s Great Fire”, denoting to Raja Lumaya’s sugbu or his famous scorched-earth tactic.

Then, the Kang Sri Lumaya ng Sugbu toponym was shortened to Sugbu, which is believed to be the etymological derivation of the Hispanized place-name Cebu. However, most historians mention that the Cebu toponym is derived from the local word súgbo that means “to plunge in or wade in water”.


According to the Aginid Legend, Raja Lumaya died in one of the many battles against the Magalos — he died as a hero, a bagani. Raja Lumaya was succeeded by his youngest son Sri Bantug, who is believed to be the father of the historically verifiable Humabon.

Unfortunately, Bantug died prematurely due to a widespread plague. So the rulership was passed to Sri Parang, but Parang is said to be a limp and could not effectively rule the kingdom.

Therefore, when Humabon reached the ruling age, Parang handed the throne to Humabon — thus, starts a new beginning of this karajaan.


Like all other origin stories of Malayan kingdoms, which have mythic elements, the Cebu Rajanate calls for its legendary text, and the Aginid Legend fits and serves for this purpose. As for its authenticity, we only hope to have this studied further by reviewing more 16th-century Visayan accounts and interviewing more Cebuano elders about their precolonial past.


  • Kintanar-Alburo, Erlinda. “Introducing Two Cebuano Texts in Translation: “Aginid” and “Sugilakbit”.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 42, no. 3/4 (2014): 179-188.
  • Ouano-Savellon, Romola. “”Aginid Bayok Sa Atong Tawarik”: Archaic Cebuano and Historicity in a Folk Narrative.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 42, no. 3/4 (2014): 189-220.
  • Pigafetta, Antonio. Magellan’s Voyage Around the World by Antonio Pigafetta, Volume I. Translated by James Alexander Robertson. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906.
  • Quirino, Karl. 2010. “The Rajahnate of Cebu.” The Bulwagan Foundation Trust, September 1, 2010.
  • Valeros, Maria Eleanor. 2009. “The Aginid.” PhilStar Global, September 13, 2009.

Illustration Sources: The image detail at the top is from “Biffayas” in the Boxer Codex (ca. 1590), retrieved from the Indiana University Digital Library Program; the image remix is brought to you by Datu Press®.

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