Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Site of the First Mass, After 488 years Controversy Continues
A Tridentine mass was held early morning of march 31 to commemorate the 488th First Mass Celebration officiated by Father Joesello Amalia at Bood Promontory in Pinamanculan. The mass is in pure latin re-enacting the first Mass officiated by Fr. Pedro Valderrama, chaplain of the Spanish expedition team headed by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, on March 31, 1521.
In his homily, Father Amalla explained that Bood Promontory is not the exact site where the First Mass was held but rather it is the site of commemoration of the thanksgiving mass happened in Mazzua.
488 years ago Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan "rediscovered" archipelago in March 1521 and made history. Little did he know that more than 400 years later, two places will contest the site of the recorded First Mass in the Philippines, whether it was held in Limasawa Island in southern Leyte or in Mazzua or Masao in Butuan. The controversy makes a mockery of the Philippine history when Limasawa and Masao both commemorated the anniversary of the recorded First Mass in respective places.
The issue sparks when Dr. Gregorio Zaide and his daughter, Sonia, in several editions during the 1980s of their widely-disseminated history textbook, insisted that the recorded First Mass was held in Masao, Butuan and in the process, dismissed the Limasawa claim as erroneous.
The First Mass controversy continues and historian experts have been called to intervene in its hope to settle the dispute. Over the years, it came to a point when the National Historical Institute, in a decision handed out a few years back, had ruled that the recorded First Mass in the Philippines was indeed held in Limasawa Island.
However, the Butuan Cultural and Historical Foundation Incorporated would not rest the case without putting up a good fight. Mr. Greg Hontiveros, a local historian who authored two books, “Butuan in Thousand Years” and “A Fire on the Island” stressed, that it is only here in the Philippines who legislates history that makes Republic Act 2733, AN ACT TO DECLARE THE SITE IN MAGALLANES, LIMASAWA ISLAND IN THE PROVINCE OF LEYTE, WHERE THE FIRST MASS IN THE PHILIPPINES WAS HELD AS A NATIONAL SHRINE, TO PROVIDE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND LANDMARKS a mistake committed by the government.
Mr. Hontiveros added, they may have been failed in their effort to pave way in the amendment of the law, but they were victorious in convincing majority of the historians that indeed, the First Mass was held in Masao, Butuan, 488 years ago today.