The Blood Compact or Pacto de sangre in Spanish is a ritual that took place in the Philippines in the old times. The tribes observe this ritual for three main reasons. The blood compact is used for the acknowledgement of a friendship, recognition of a pact or a treaty and a validation to an agreement. Sometimes all three are found in the reasons for a blood compact. In the ritual the parties would slit their wrists and make the blood fall into a cup. The cup is then filled with liquid or wine and then both parties drink from it. A mutual consent is formally sealed with the act.
The most famous blood compact in the Philippines was the Sandugo. It is a visaya word which means to have “one blood”. Sandugo took place in Bohol in 16th century between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna who was the chief of Bohol. The blood compact also happened with Rajah Humabon and Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan. The blood compact between Legazpi and Sikatuna is the first official sign of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. It was held in March 16, 1565. The same thing was done by the Kataastaasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan of the revolution. But they did not drink each other’s blood. Instead they used the cutting of wrist as a symbol of their membership.
The blood compact in Bohol now holds a monument in the city of Tagbilaran. It is depicted in the flag and also in the official seal of Bohol’s government. The features of the Sandugo are sketched in the symbol. On the top is the explanation of its history and the shores where the Spanish explorers anchored.
Sandugo goes deep into the history of Philippines. It is used to mark the official signings of mutual consent and is usually a catalyst in significant situations of the Filipinos. The people of the Philippines have been known for their great respect for the said occasion. In the year 1886 in Malacañang Palace, famous Filipino painter Antonio Luna portrayed his award-winning version of the Blood Compact. The painting featured the images of Sikatuna and Legazpi’s enactment of the Sandugo. The picture shows Legazpi accompanied by conquistadors where Sikatuna was described as crowded by these people.
The Filipino’s passion in the preservation of their culture was evident in Antonio Luna’s Sandugo painting. It has won many awards in his time and in the modern times. The painting was awarded first prize in 1904 in Paris, France and the United States. At present the painting is placed on top of the grand staircase of the Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañang Palace.
The performance of the blood compact is an act for mutual understanding and respect for Filipinos. The cutting of the wrist represents the willingness of both parties to cooperate and sacrifice even their blood for the treaty. Drinking each other’s blood on the other hand represents brotherhood and all the protection and love that come with it. That is how far they are going to prove to each other that they see the fusion highly and will protect it.