1521 History

Marica! Bisaya words in use when Magellan was in Cebu

I’ve long been curious about the word marica, which I first heard when I relocated to Cebu more than 20 years ago. I never heard it growing up in Polomolok, South Cotabato where we talked a patois that was a mix of Cebuano and Ilonggo.

For us, it was “dali” or “adto diri” or “ari di.” For years I spoke an ungrammatical “adto ko dinhi ugma (I’ll be here tomorrow).” The correct phrase is “anhi ko ugma.” To come here is anhi, to go there is adto, I was to learn soon enough.

I can no longer recall when I first heard marica but I’ve always thought it a modernism, a portmanteau of “muari ka” (edit: several people have said the root is the phrase “umari ka“) that evolved into a single-word bidding.

1521 Feature Heritage

You think you’re kinky? Wait till you read about sexual practices of ancient Cebuanos

(WARNING: this article tackles a mature subject in graphic fashion)

These people go naked, Italian scholar Antonio Pigafetta wrote in his account of the Armada de Molucca’s stay in Zzubu or Cebu, “wearing only a piece of cloth made of palm around their shameful parts.”

“They have as many wives as they wish, but there is always a chief one,” he added.

Then he wrote about a practice that, according to historian Laurence Bergreen, both fascinated and appalled explorers from around the world: palang.

“The males, both large and small, have the head of their member pierced from one side to the other, with a pin of gold or of tin as thick as a goose feather; and at each end of this pin some have a star-shaped decoration like a button, and others, one like the head of a cart nail,” Pigafetta said.

The middle of the pin has a hole through which they urinate, he added. “The pin and the stars always remain firm, holding the member stiff.”