Saturday, March 05, 2011

LIMASAWA: WHERE THE FIRST MASS IN THE PHILIPPINES WAS CELEBRATED


The Magellan Shrine in Limasawa.

Part of the Philippine Church History class of the Theo 3 of the St. John the Evangelist School of Theology was the discussion whether the first mass was truly celebrated in the island of Limasawa or in Mazaua in Butuan, as some would like to argue. So where would be the best place to have the debate than in Limasawa itself. I was invited by the class to join them with their teacher, Fr. Aaron, as they knew that I love going to the beach. Been to the place about fifteen years before, but I failed to bring along a camera so I had no souvenir shots then. Hence, I had no hesitation when I was invited to come. Since the car of the Rector was unavailable I had to provide them with the ride. I invited also my dive buddy, Ronnie Ramirez to come along as I knew he has not been to Limasawa yet. In a short notice he got the nod of his wife to come along and so not only did the class completed their transport, as I told Ronnie to bring along his car, but we also had a very good photographer in tow, he now being an avid photographer.

There are only two public boat transport that go to Limasawa daily. One of the boats is owned by the Diocese of Maasin which was made to help the parish priest in Limasawa and which they later converted as a passenger boat. Both boats would depart at one o’clock in the afternoon daily from Padre Burgos, S. Leyte. From Limasawa, the boats would depart at 6:45 in the morning for Padre Burgos. On that day that we went there, a special trip was made by the M/B Asuncion de Limasawa, the boat owned by the diocese, as yearly students from the Catholic school in Maasin would make a pilgrimage to Limasawa. Hence, instead at one o’clock the boat departed by three in the afternoon as they made two trips that day for the students. The ride going to Limasawa in certain times of the year can become very rough. During the “habagat” season the sea could be so treacherous that there could be weeks when boats could not go out at sea. The parish priest there, Fr. Ronald Lago who has been there for already eight years said that there was a time that he was stranded in the island for several months. Food supply ran out that they were almost starving. Rice does not grow in the island. They just had to make do with the root crops that were still available.

Limasawa has a population of 5,200 and is composed of six barrios : Cabulihan, Lugsongan, Magallanes, San Agustin, San Bernardo and Triana. The main poblacion is found in Triana which is on the western part of the island. The shrine where Magellan and his crew had the first mass in the Philipppines is on the eastern part now called Magallanes. Aside from the shrine there is also a commemorative cross planted by Magellan at the highest point of the island just above the shrine. There are 450 steps going there. Just near the shrine is a new Catholic church built. At the back of the church is a pad for the priest. Although the parish priest was told by the bishop to stay in this church, he preferred to live in Triana as this place is quite far from the neighbors. He, already living on a small island said would die of loneliness and silence if he still would reside here on a desolate hill. So he would just sleep overnight there from time to time.

Although the Catholics are the majority, they only compose 36 percent of the total population. The rest of the Limasawans belong to 13 other religions, the Filipinista (Aglipayans) as they are popularly known there comes in second with their church just beside the Catholic church in Triana. The people mostly depend on fishing for their livelihood. There are some good snorkeling areas and dive sites in the island. But because of the roughness of the sea for most times of the year, tourism on the island may not so much develop. There are no pension houses yet on the island for tourists. I did not hear about homestays if they are available.

Pictures with watermarks are by Ronnie Ramirez and others as cited.



An OSF sister assigned at the seminary came with us. She was the cousin of the parish priest of Limasawa.

Fr. Aaron with the seminarians on board the motorboat.
The name of the bishop of Maasin prominently displayed on the side of the boat.

Photo by Ronnie
The rocky landscape of Limasawa with the lighthouse on top. Photo by Ronnie.

There were here and there good white sandy beaches around the island.

Coconut trees cover most of the island Photo by Ronnie

The port in Triana, but no big boats have ever docked.




People were carrying their boats to the sea ready for a night of fishing as we arrived.

The other public motor boat plying the seas between Limasawa and Padre Burgos

The flying fishes were the only catch that day.

A solar powered water tank.



The main street in Triana

The Catholic Parish Church of Limasawa

Inside the Church of Limasawa


The Philippine Independent Church (Filipinista or Aglipayan Church)

The Catholic church and the Aglipayan church are just besides each other.

The Magellan shrine situated in the eastern part of the island of Limasawa. The barrio is now called Magallanes.
Our official photographer

The historical marker of the First Mass in the Philippines.

The church in Magallanes which is just near the shrine.




450 steps leading to the cross planted by Magellan. It overlooks the whole island and from there one has a good view of the mainland of Leyte and Surigao.

The Magellan cross.

With a wide expanse up on the hill, the seminarians had a heyday "flying" on a pole. This is facing the east towards mainland Leyte.

We could not resist but join the fun.

The sunset in Limasawa was a beautiful setting for the continued "flight into the night."

Sunset in Limasawa.


The white sand in Triana, just in front of the church.

The elementary school is also beside the church.
We had to walk through rocky paths to get to the Marine Sanctuary area of San Agustin which was a good site for snorkeling. There are also good dive spots in Limasawa. Dive shops are found in Padre Burgos.
Photo by Ronnie






Some of the corals in San Agustin marine sanctuary. There was a good area where corals where found but my camera did not function well that day. Pictures came out blurred.

11 comments:

Vicente Calibo de Jesus said...

The Limasawa story consists of just three (3) paragraphs. It was written by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Francisco Combes, who had not read a single eyewitness account. He read a secondhand account by Antononio de Herrera that narrates of an Easter Sunday mass being held on 31 March 1521 at Mazaua isle.

There is no reference to a mass of whatever kind being held anywhere in the Phil. on 31 March 1521.

To know how this monumental historical error came about go to https://picasaweb.google.com/103135314023445858830/AmbethOcampoSLimasawaHoaxOhWhatATangledWebWeWeaveWhenFirstWePractiseToDeceive.

Vicente Calibo de Jesus said...

I have posted in various sites on the Internet a sort of contest. If you can find the word "mass" in the Limasawa story, I will give you a reward of ONE MILLION PESOS (P1,000,000.00). You can read the English translation of Fr. Francisco Combes' 3-paragraph story at Bernad's article which has been digitized at http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=NbG7kHtBma8C&pg=PA1&dq=Limasawa&ei=7K9MSY-IGY3WlQTLpKzWBA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Limasawa&f=false. For a large format of Bernad's translation which appeared in Kinaadman journal, Xavier University, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginesdemafra/7017367631/sizes/l/in/photostream/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginesdemafra/7017393043/sizes/l/in/photostream/

I can be contacted at ginesdemafra@gmail.com. I am also on Facebook with my name, Vicente Calibo de Jesus. If you are able to spot the word, it doesn't even have to have "first" before "mass" you'll (meaning whoever reads this) win the prize.

Lily said...

He's a priest! LOL. WHat if the church is a woman! He'll carry the woman with him always

Anonymous said...

Life is good with a woman, take care of the bride, you are looking better and more complete.

Vicente Calibo de Jesus said...

We have increased to TWO MILLION PESOS the amount you can win if you can point to the word "missa" (mass) in the Limasawa story. All that you have to do is point, no need to argue, no need to write anything even one word.

If you can't find the word, you can still win the prize money if you can find any veiled reference, a hint, or a glimmer of a hint of an Easter Sunday mass in Fr. Francisco Combes' Limasawa story.

If not, you can still win the TWO MILLION if you can find in any primary or secondary account the word "Limasawa."

If you can't, you can still win that money if you can show the word "Limasawa" is found in any Philippine language (there are some 170), or in the various languages of those who were in Magellan's fleet, e.g., French, Italian, Spanish.

If you still can't, you have another chance. In the story, Combe' says the captain-general was named "Alonso" Magallanes. Point to any primary, secondary document that says the name of Magelan is "Alonso."

If you can't, here another chance to win TWO MILLION PESOS, show me any primary or secondary account that says the fleet entered through Siargao as Combes writes.

If again, you can't, here's one more chance: Combes wrote the fleet's first landfall is Limasawa. Now find any primary or secondary source that says the first stop is an island named "Limasawa."

Combes writes the fleet went to Butuan where a cross was planted. Now point to any primary or secondary account that says the fleet went to Butuan. If you can, you'll win the award.

Ok. I'll leave you now to try to win the prize money.

Vicente Calibo de Jesus said...

We have increased to TWO MILLION PESOS the amount you can win if you can point to the word "missa" (mass) in the Limasawa story. All that you have to do is point, no need to argue, no need to write anything even one word.

If you can't find the word, you can still win the prize money if you can find any veiled reference, a hint, or a glimmer of a hint of an Easter Sunday mass in Fr. Francisco Combes' Limasawa story.

If not, you can still win the TWO MILLION if you can find in any primary or secondary account the word "Limasawa."

If you can't, you can still win that money if you can show the word "Limasawa" is found in any Philippine language (there are some 170), or in the various languages of those who were in Magellan's fleet, e.g., French, Italian, Spanish.

If you still can't, you have another chance. In the story, Combe' says the captain-general was named "Alonso" Magallanes. Point to any primary, secondary document that says the name of Magelan is "Alonso."

If you can't, here another chance to win TWO MILLION PESOS, show me any primary or secondary account that says the fleet entered through Siargao as Combes writes.

If again, you can't, here's one more chance: Combes wrote the fleet's first landfall is Limasawa. Now find any primary or secondary source that says the first stop is an island named "Limasawa."

Combes writes the fleet went to Butuan where a cross was planted. Now point to any primary or secondary account that says the fleet went to Butuan. If you can, you'll win the award.

Ok. I'll leave you now to try to win the prize money.

beachanatic said...

In the book The Colonial Odyssey of Leyte (1521-1914, A Translation of ReseƱa de la Provincia de Leyte por Manuel Artigas y Cuerva translated and Edited by Rolando O. Borrinaga and Cantius J. Kobak,OFM, (New Day Publishers, 2006) it states about the first mass being celebrated in Limasawa on March 31, 1521. In its extensive footnote it talks about the several ways Limasawa has been written in maps, reports of voyages, documents and histories (pp182-186). Then it transcribes the portion about that Magellan's stay in Limasawa as recorded by Pigafetta. It also describes how the mass was celebrated in the island of Limasawa on that Sunday, the last day of March which was Easter (pp. 186-188).
That's a first hand account of what happened!

Nelson Cabasisi said...

Agree.

Anonymous said...

There, there, we are having a history discussion....

Anonymous said...

It's a debate ensuing, not a discussion...whoa~

Brother Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.