The thematic center of the Sinulog project of the Cebu city government running on its fifth year on January 1985 is the figure of a native warrior’s shield on whose face is imprinted the coat of arms of the Santo Niño.
The native shield figure symbolizes the country’s “continued resistance to colonization.” It speaks of the Filipino’s patriotic readiness to defend the country’s acceptance of Christianity as it as brought to the settlements in 1521 by European rulers.
The coat of arms of the Santo Niño bears a two-headed hawk, the mark of the House of Hapsburg (Habsburg) in Europe which then ruled most of the known world from the 15th century to the 20th century. Spain was under this Hapsburg dynasty when it sent the expeditions out across the globe to spread the Faith and expand the influence of the dynastic house to the unknown lands beyond the oceans.
The royal origin of the Hapsburg started with the ruling family in Austria in1276 and for decades until the 20th century the house ruled most of the kingdoms in Europe. The Hapsburgs established the Holy Roman Empire in 1452 and it was at the height of their power under Charles I of Spain (who was also Holy Roman Emperor known as Charles V) that the first Expedition under F. Magellan which discovered the Philippines for Spain was sent, initially to look for the Spice Island. The second expedition under M. Legazpi was sent by his son, Phillip II who ruled Spain for 42 years from 1556. In fact, the Hapsburg rulers continued to hold power until 1700 not only in Spain but also in the colonies under the Spanish empire, even while the Austrian line of the Hapsburg dynasty also ruled Central Europe until about the same time.
Thus, the Hapsburg emblem, now the coat of arms of the Santo Niño, was influential in many kingdoms in that time. The two-headed hawk emblem was in some of the banners brought by Magellan’s men to the Zubu settlement in 1521. The same emblem was carried all the way from that time, through the Legazpi expedition 44 years after Magellan, on to others that would come to the country in those days, such as the Loasia, Saavedra, and the Villalobos expeditions.
The emblem of the two-headed hawk at the peak of the power of the Hapsburg dynasty represented the twin purpose of the House, which was to stand as “Champion of Catholicism” and “Defender of the Faith.”
This emblem today is the main motif carried by the intricate woodwork in some parts of the San Agustin church (Basilica), such as in the old church benches and other few relics of that dynastic past. The carvings extant today have been influenced greatly by this emblem which is said to have originated from the name of the dynasty’s home seat in Austria when first the Hapsburgs ascended into power, the Hawk’s castle.
Thus, the Hapsburg emblem has come to this side of the world and has been preserved up to this century as the coat of arms of the Santo Niño, and this in turn has become the focal theme of a native shield figure to form official logo of Sinulog. (OMA)