Butuan not giving up on âfirst Philippines massâ claim
People attend a mass presided over by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, to kick off the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines at the Manila Cathedral yesterday. The celebration was inspired by the first mass in Limasawa in 1521 and highlights the contribution of Manila to the faith’s continuity.
Krizjohn Rosales

Butuan not giving up on ‘first Philippines mass’ claim

Ben Serrano (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2021 - 12:00am

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines — As the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Christianization of the Philippines nears, local officials in Agusan del Norte are reminding the world that a once nondescript town in their region and not Limasawa in Southern Leyte was the site of the first mass in the Philippines.

In Resolution No. 083-2020 passed late last year, the Magallanes Municipal Council declared the town known as Baug 500 years ago as the “True Site of the First Mass and Magellan’s Expedition Landfall.”

The Agusan del Norte Provincial Board, through Resolution No. 487-2020, expressed support for the municipality of Magallanes’ claim of “historical honor” as the first spot in the archipelago where the expedition of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan – under the patronage of Spain – landed on March 16, 1521 and held an Easter Sunday mass on March 31 in the same year. The place was in Baug, which is now part of Butuan.

The claim by local officials and by a large number of their constituents here that Baug was the site of the first mass was largely based on accounts of a navigator of Magellan’s expedition, Gines De Mafra, who was able to return to Spain and joined the Villalobos expedition in 1543. De Mafra’s accounts supposedly matched the description and location of Baug.

In Marfa’s accounts, the area was said to be 2,200 to 3,900 hectares, a description that does not fit Limasawa.

It was Magellan’s principal chronicler Fray Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian Augustinian priest, who reported that the first mass was celebrated in Limasawa.

Magellan’s expedition with more than 230 sailors and five ships left Seville, Spain on Sept. 19, 1519.

In 1872, a monument commemorating the first mass in the Philippines was erected near the mouth of Agusan River in Barangay Baug or what today is known as Magallanes, Agusan del Norte, NHI records supposedly showed.

In the early 18th century, early Jesuit priests built the first Roman Catholic Church in Barangay Baug and declared the area the site of the first mass in the Spanish colony.

On May 8, 2018, President Duterte signed Executive Order 55 declaring the start of the preparation for Quincentennial of the Christianization of the Philippines. The celebration started in 2019 and will end in 2022.

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