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Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte, Philippines
by S. Vanzuela Mercado
Two years into the future, most of the 94% to 95% religious population will be celebrating the 5th Centennial Anniversary of the First Christian Mass or the Introduction of Christianity in the Far East country! God willing on March 31, 2021, perhaps around 109 million Filipinos and over a million guests, visitors and tourists from other countries would be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the "First Mass" which Ferdinand Magellan and his fellow explorers introduced in the only Asian country which, over 498 years later, resulted in 85% Roman Catholics and 10% Protestants out of over 107.7-million current population.
Unlike the 500th Feast of Santo Niño which will be observed for sure in Cebu City, the "First Mass" on Easter or Introduction of Christianity will divide the honored guests, visitors and tourists from many foreign countries. Thousands to a few million of the people will travel by pump-boats, chartered boats, ships, hovercraft, hoverboards and helicopters to Limasawa, an island town of Southern Leyte. Thousands will also travel by walking, riding the cars, buses, trucks, vans, bicycles, motorcycles, and other land transportation vehicles to Masao, the proxy for the nonexistent "Mazzaua" island which supposedly existed in 1521 north off the coast of nearby Butuan City or Kingdom of Butuan in Mindanao.
A worthless argument which never ends
The Filipinos, particularly the pro-Mazzaua in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte and the pro-Limasawa in Southern Leyte, would probably be still disunited before, on the anniversary date and after the 500th Anniversary celebration in the year 2021 of the "First Mass" or Introduction of Christianity in the Philippines. Unless the experts on Antonio Pigafetta's original Italian journal or logbook and other official or unofficial log keepers of Magellan's expedition and the Easter Sunday festivity on March 31, 1521 in "Mazzaua" island, the Spanish and Portuguese governments as well as the "time travelers" would come to the aid of the Philippines' National Historical Commission, there will be one official and unofficial brochures, 2 T-shirt themes and other souvenir items for the visitors and tourists to the "First Mass" landmark: one in Limasawa, Southern Leyte, and another one for Masao, the substitute "Mazzaua island" in Butuan City.
For the past centuries, innumerable numbers of Filipinos including the top experts in education, history, religion, politics and other subjects are still debating as to the exact location of the "First Mass" on Easter, which according to the #1 pro-Butuan author, the word "first" was not recorded during the observance of Easter Sunday on March 31, 1521.
Is it Limasawa or Mazzaua? Who are behind these so-called important missing links, events, activities, landfall, etc. in history? Are there real estate developers, speculators, "front" individuals and organizations that would reap financially behind these agendas or business strategies regardless of true history, & the true meaning of our existence? Are the "fronts" - secret groups, social clubs, centuries-old establishments, cabals, powers that be - trying to divert the attentions of over 107.7-million Filipinos from the real "clear and present dangers" which are happening around the world which also affect each and every Filipino, and the next generations?
What is the big deal of this historical/ religious issue in the first place? Is determining the exact location of the "First Mass" on Easter Sunday on March 31, 1521, a matter of heaven or hell for most Filipinos? Second, is there any other country the rest of the world that observes annually the "First Mass" in its territory? Third, do most of over 107.7-million Filipinos care to know that even in America, hundreds to thousands of the native Americans (Indians or tribes) would participate every year in their protest march/parade against Columbus Day?
Carrying the Spanish flag, the Jewish-Italian Christopher Columbus and some of his fellow Italians, the Spaniards and other Europeans "re-discovered" America. They too had the "First Mass." However, the Native Americans including the Inuit people in Northern Canada, the descendants of the Mayans and Incas, and the modern Latinos in Central and South America neither make a big deal out of their "First Mass" nor the Introduction of Christianity in the American continent! Do you recall whether or not the 500th Anniversary of Columbus Day was televised worldwide by ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, and other international TV networks?
Nevertheless, Columbus was not the first European to introduce Christianity or the "First Mass" in America. The Orthodox Christians from Scandinavia introduced Christianity to America over 1000 years ago! "However we may look at it, the fact is that the first Christians in North America came from Scandinavia at a time when Scandinavian Christians were an integral part of Orthodox Christendom... It is perhaps not idle speculation to wonder what might have been had these early Scandinavians settled in large numbers in North America. We can suppose that together with their priests and bishops they would gradually have moved further south towards more favorable climates, converting more native Americans along their way. Perhaps Christopher Columbus himself would have found here an already ancient native Orthodox Christian civilization, an Orthodox America. But history took a different turn. And so it is up to us to take up the mission begun in this land by Leif Ericsson and his Orthodox descendants."
The Mass on Easter was not a Biblical Holy Day in the first place!
If the Filipinos truly want to seek the truth and to practice real Christianity, then why waste their heavenly Father and Creator's precious time, energies and resources arguing and debating on the non-biblical First Mass or the Mass on Easter? Do the doctorate degree holders, experts, historians, scholars, students for life, and the Filipinos reading this article and those who profess as Christians even care to know that the Mass or "First Mass" on Easter in the Philippines or any other country was not a biblical holy day or event?
Let us "prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thes. 5:21). When and where was the first Catholic Mass celebrated? "At the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, in the evening, in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, the night before Our Blessed Savior was crucified, so it would have been the Passover (spring) around the year 33 A.D. [some Bible experts wrote 31 A.D.] See Matthew 26:17-30." Thus, what Jesus and his 12 disciples observed was not the First Mass or the Mass. It was actually the Passover Day as described in the Old Testament, Leviticus Chapter 23! However, the Roman Catholic Church did not even exist until 380 A.D./C.E.
"...In addition to Gnostic, Jewish, and Pauline Christianity, many other versions of Christianity were starting to be taught. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jewish Christian movement was scattered. Pauline and Gnostic Christianity were left as the dominant groups. The Roman Empire legally recognized Pauline Christianity as a valid religion in 313 AD. Later in that century, in 380 AD, Roman Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman Empire. During the following 1000 years, Catholics were the only people recognized as Christians. In 1054 AD, a formal split occurred between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. This division remains in effect today..."
The Passover in Leviticus 23: "5. the Lord's passover--(See Exodus 12:2 Exodus 12:14 Exodus 12:18 ). The institution of the passover was intended to be a perpetual memorial of the circumstances attending the redemption of the Israelites, while it had a typical reference to a greater redemption to be effected for God's spiritual people. On the first and last days of this feast, the people were forbidden to work [ Leviticus 23:7 Leviticus 23:8 ]; but while on the Sabbath they were not to do any work, on feast days they were permitted to dress meat--and hence the prohibition is restricted to 'no servile work.' At the same time, those two days were devoted to 'holy convocation'--special seasons of social devotion. In addition to the ordinary sacrifices of every day, there were to be 'offerings by fire' on the altar (see Numbers 28:19 ), while unleavened bread was to be eaten in families all the seven days (see 1 Corinthians 5:8 )." In details these are the exact scriptures: The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread in Lev. 23: 4 "These are the Lordís appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lordís Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lordís Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work."
About the Mass, it was not practiced in the Book of Acts. The original New Testament Church which started on the Day of Pentecost in 31 A.D./C.E. as described in Acts did not observe the Mass but the Passover evening popularly known as The Last Supper with feet washing, partaking of the unleavened bread, and red wine. The Passover was observed at sundown or sunset until the next evening which was the start of the First day of the Seven days of Unleavened Bread!
Besides that, most of the Christians and Messianic believers around the world do not care to know that the first country anywhere on Earth to adopt Christianity as her official religion is Armenia! It is not Roma or Italia. It is not the Vatican City. When it comes to study-tour on Christianity and Messianism, the Christian tourists and visitors ought to take a vacation in and tour Armenia, the pioneer in Christianity. Armenia has the oldest cathedral in the world!
The observance of Easter has been a custom and tradition which the early "Christian" converts borrowed from the heathens. Easter is a non-biblical holiday which the heathens have been practicing hundreds and hundreds of years long before the birth of Jesus or Yahushua (in Hebrew)! Easter is a pagan event which originated from the Babylonians. It is still practiced in our present generation in the month of March and April of the Gregorian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar is totally different from that of the Hebrew or Old Testament Calendar!
There are millions and millions of "Christians" around the world including about 95% of more than 107.7-million Filipinos that disobey the weekly and annual holy days, which Elohim commanded them to be kept and to be observed from one generation to the next generations (Leviticus Chapter 23). They have accepted the doctrines, dogmas and teachings of the organized churches, ministries, preachers and missionaries without questioning whether or not they were learned from the Holy Bible - the inspired words of our Creator.
Millions and millions of the people globally were and are deceived to believe that Christ nailed the Sabbath on the cross, and that He supposedly resurrected on Easter Sunday. However, if He died on Good Friday, then He did not resurrect on early Easter Sunday. During Jesus' ministry, some of the scribes and Pharisees asked Him: "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." Christ answered: "For just as Jonah was in the belly of the great whale for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights" (Matthew 12: 38-40). Three days and three nights during the time of Christ were considered the equivalent of 72 hours in our present day reckoning of time.
Around 95% of the citizens in the Philippines profess as Christians, but Christ Himself said: "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:50 NIV). He also said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15 KJV). Moreover, He said: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev. 22:12 NIV). Christ certainly did not command His followers to observe the Easter festival. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia and other world-famous reference books and software, Easter originated from Babylon!
At the present time, in Israel, there are two or more so-called sites of Jesus' birthplace, Jesus' baptism, Jesus' last supper, Jesus' crucifixion, Jesus' burial place, etc. It depends on which religious affiliations that the tourists and visitors are members of. They go or tour to the ones that they feel comfortable to see and to be at the site, and have selfies taken for souvenir. So, we Filipinos since we are all disunited anyway except probably during World War 2, we can continue to argue, debate, discuss, and establish our respective historical, religious landmarks, and tourists' attractions in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
We can continue to pursue our many diverse, peculiar and unique differences until Jesus Christ returns to intervene in the coming Battle of Armageddon or World War 3! That is if we also survive miraculously in the coming Great Tribulation! According to the prophets of doom and gloom, only about 10% of the world's nearly 7.8-billion population would survive from the on-going Great Tribulation! Ironically, when the Messiah returns on Earth He will eradicate the Mass, Good Friday, Easter, early sunrise service on Easter, All Saints' Day, Christmas, New Year and many other non-biblical holy or holidays, and feast days. He will restore the observance of the original weekly Sabbath and annual Sabbath holy days as commanded in Leviticus Chapter 23!
Four sites of the "First Mass" or Easter Observance?
Just as most of the people in the tropical country of over 7,600 (including the newly discovered ones) islands are disunited as a democratic government, there are four islands or sites in which the residents and their supporters claimed as the original site of the "First Mass" or Easter Observance in the Philippines held in 1521.
The most famous is Limasawa Island, an island town in Southern Leyte, which the Philippine Government recognized as the actual site of the First Mass. The powerful Roman Catholic Church also recognized Limasawa Island as the site where Magellan and his crew landed and held the "First Mass." Furthermore, the Embassy of Spain recognized Limasawa as the site of Magellan's landfall such that they also sent the Galleon Andalucia to visit Maasin City for 5 days and Limasawa for about 3 hours. The Embassy of Portugal in Metro Manila recognized Limasawa as the "Mazzaua" which Pigafetta wrote about as the island where Magellan and his troops observed the "First Mass" on Easter or introduced Christianity to the island's inhabitants.
Some features why Limasawa is the historical "Mazzaua" island.
Nao Victoria is the replica of Magellan's Victoria - the very first to circumnavigate the Earth
M/S Caledonian Sky, the cruise ship visited Limasawa in 2016 & 2015
Being a very religious person, Magellan knew that when he and his fellow sailors anchored and landed in "Mazzaua" Island on Thursday morning, he saw and knew that the island was the ideal site to hold the "First Mass" on Easter Sunday. Pigafetta wrote: "He [Magellan] had a cross brought with the nails and the crown to which those kings did reverence. And the captain caused them to be told that these things that he showed them were the insignia of the Emperor or his lord and master, by whom he was charged and commanded to set them up in all the places where he should go and travel. And he told them that he wished to set them up in their country for their benefit so that if any ships of Spain came afterward to those islands, they seeing the said cross would know that we had been there. And by this token, they would do them no harm, and if they took any of their men, being immediately shown this sign, they would let them go." Such display of the cross, if it was erected in Mazaua, Butuan, the Portuguese colonizers in Mindanao would have known that Magellan did it. They would have arrested and jailed Magellan and his fellow sailors in Mazaua, Butuan!
The Portuguese Government has the "unwritten history" that Magellan, a Portuguese, and his fellow sailors anchored in Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte!
"The Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494 virtually divided the unknown world between Spain and Portugal with the approval of the Holy See. Did you know that Magellan, in a previous expedition, had [landed] in the Moluccas, just south of Mindanao? In those days, Portugal had something that the Spanish didn't have: cartographic maps of the so-called Spice Islands. Therefore, since he was a Portuguese, it is safe to assume that Magellan used Portuguese cartographic maps during his historic expedition that brought him to Cebu on March 16, 1521 [this is obviously a wrong date].
"With the Treaty of Tordesillas, Prof. De Sousa said the Philippine archipelago fell under the jurisdiction of Portugal... but Magellan made his claim for the King of Spain who paid for his expedition. Thus in 1750, Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Madrid whereby the Portuguese exchanged the Philippines for the South Frontier of Brazil, which gave Portugal control of Rio de la Plata. Again this is something we've never read in our history books. History tells us that Spain sold the Philippines to the United States for a measly sum of $20 million, but we never knew about this exchange deal between Spain and Portugal for Brazil!
"Talking about rewriting history, we all know about the claim made by some Butuanons that a place called Mazaua was allegedly the site of the first Holy Mass instead of Limasawa Island off Southern Leyte. Well, Prof. De Sousa has another insight on this, which I'm sure puts an end to this endless debate and enrich our pre-Spanish history. It turned out that the ill-fated Magellan expedition ended Spanish exploration of these islands. But Portuguese navigators like João de Barros, Gaspar Correia, Diogo do Couto, Francisco de Castro and Antonio Galvão have been exploring Mindanao from 1520 to 1565 until the Spaniards resumed its conquest of the Philippines through another expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
"Even as early as June 1970, Cebuano historian Dionisio A. Sy already wrote a book entitled 'Butuan through the ages' where he already disproved that Mazaua or Mazawa was the site of the first Mass because the naval latitude coordinates that Pigafetta used almost matched that of Limasawa in Leyte. Therefore, if Magellan never went to Butuan... who did?
"Any of these Portuguese explorers I mentioned went to Mindanao, but the best bet is Antonio Galvão who circumnavigated the whole island [of Mindanao]. In fact, one Portuguese captain named João de Canha Pinto (who is also mistaken as João de Caminha) went to the island of Sirigao, which could very well be Siargao today, and had a blood compact with the King there."
Masao or Mazaua in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte
The next popular one is Mazaua in Butuan City, the capital of Agusan del Norte in Northern Mindanao. The Butuanons and their supporters advocate that Magellan and his men landed in Mazaua for the reason that it has the anchorage, rice fields, gold, antique "balanghai" and other artifacts which they unearthed in scattered areas in Butuan City.
In the so-called "Magellan's Harbor" in Butuan, the real harbor for the cargo and passenger ships traveling to and departing from Butuan City is actually in Nasipit, which is 25 kilometers west of Mazaua. Mazaua or Butuan City's offshore is too shallow for ship navigation!
If Mazaua had the abundant rice fields, other food supplies, and water at the time when Magellan and his troops landed and held the "First Mass" or observed Easter Sunday, how come Magellan and his fellow sailors sought for a bigger island? Mazaua was and is attached to Mindanao, the second largest island in the entire Philippines.
Since the pro-Mazaua supporters strongly claimed that Magellan and his fellow sailors held the "First Mass" or observed Easter Sunday in their "island of plenty" what happened to the abundant foods, drinks and other supplies in Mazaua and their next neighbor, the "Kingdom of Butuan"? Why did the rajah of "Mazzaua" and the other rajah of Butuan volunteered as pilots to Magellan to obtain provisions in Cebu, which is much smaller than Mindanao and Leyte islands?
The pro-Butuan proponents claimed that Magellan and his troops landed in Mazaua, Butuan City because Pigafetta wrote in his logbook about the small gift items made of gold supposedly from Butuan which Rajah Kalambu gave to Magellan. Well then, if gold was such a big deal in Butuan, Magellan and his sailors could have sailed easily south to Surigao, Mindanao while they were still sailing off the eastern coast of Panaon Island. They had seen Surigao which was and is in northeast Mindanao before nighttime because Mindanao is the second biggest island in the entire Philippines. Surigao was known to have gold at that time and up to the present day. Magellan and his men in 3 ships did not search for spices only. They searched for anything or things of value to bring home and hand them over to the King of Spain!
Furthermore, the pro-Butuan supporters claimed that the antique "balanghai" that some of them found under the ground in Masao or Mazaua, Butuan is one proof that Magellan was in Mazaua. Wrong! There were other hundreds of artifacts and remnants, not just bancas, found in other islands in the Philippines. The historical landmark of Magellan in which the Butuanons claimed as another proof that Magellan landed was actually erected years later by some Portuguese in Mindanao. Magellan himself was Portuguese. All of the Philippine Islands were actually within the eastern demarcation line which belonged to Portugal, not Spain. The Portuguese had the "rights" to claim over 17,000 islands in Indonesia and the rest of Asia.
One Filipino author, Vicente C. de Jesus, wrote a lengthy article entitled, "Mazaua: Magellan's Lost Harbor." The government of Butuan City, Mindanao, commissioned him to do extensive research on the Mazaua landfall issue. He concluded that Magellan and his troops landed in Mazaua, Butuan City, Philippines. He wrote:
"Two events define the meaning of Mazaua for most Filipinos, the Easter mass and the planting of a large cross atop the tallest hill. The Philippines is an isolated rock of Christianity in a huge ocean lashed by the powerful waves of Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and other beliefs. Of its 76 million people 83% are Catholics, 9% Protestants. Mazaua, therefore, is an icon to a deeply religious people, an event of overarching importance. This aspect of a signal event in world geography and Renaissance navigation has unfortunately served to distort the way the event is viewed."
"An icon to a deeply religious people, an event of overarching importance" to whom? It may be an icon and very important event to the professed "Christians" and Holy Bible illiterates, but to those who practice Biblical Christianity as in the New Testament times, the Mass on Easter is meaningless and worthless! Most Filipinos have all the time in the world to read the newspapers, tabloids, the political, sports and entertainment publications, the comics, their Facebook, and e-mail accounts but not a few minutes to read and study intensively the Holy Bible.
In addition, Mr. de Jesus wrote: "Hopefully, given this exposure,, the discussion on Mazaua will be global in scale and the process of peer review will engage the world's greatest minds. From this global playing field, where does NHI stand? What are its bona fides? What credentials will it present to the world of Magellan scholarship and Renaissance navigation history? Opiana's mediocrity? Or Gancayco's casuistry? Does it even have any right anymore to participate in this globalized discussion?"
What global discussion? Billions of the world's religious population do not care to know that there are no original manuscripts, no papyrus, no tablets of stones on the original WORDS of our Creator and Jesus. There are no original Holy Bibles, no original Dead Sea Scrolls, not even the New Testaments The original gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not exist!
The world's greatest minds in America, for example, are not going to help with the "First Mass" argument in the Philippines. They do not even care to help the 549,928 homeless people in America. For example: "One in five homeless Americans live in California, where the problem is especially acute. In the Golden State and three other western states Ė Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon Ė more than 50% of homeless people are categorized as unsheltered, meaning they are living in the streets, vehicles or parks, in places not fit for humans to stay. In New York, by comparison, the number is less than 5%. City services are overwhelmed. After torrential rains in San Francisco last week, the shelter wait list for single adults reached a record 1,126 people, according to Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco."
The so-called experts on Mazaua, Butuan denied or ignored the "unwritten history" of the Portuguese' colonization of Mindanao before Magellan and his explorers sailed across the Pacific Ocean from South America. They ignored or pretended not to know the fact that the Portuguese navigators, such as João de Barros, Gaspar Correia, Diogo do Couto, Francisco de Castro and Antonio Galvão had explored Mindanao from 1520 to 1565. The Portuguese were ahead of Magellan's expedition in the Philippines by at least one year.
Before Magellan's explorers landed in March 1521, the Roman Catholic Portuguese sailors more likely had conducted the "First Mass" in Southern Philippines! Therefore, the pro-Butuan proponents had the right to assume and claim the "First Mass" in Mindanao, but not recorded in history, before Portugal exchanged the entire Philippines for Brazil with Spain. In a Portuguese map made around 1535 to 1538, Butuan's name was Butan or Butuão. Spain did not even know that Butuan existed!
Thus, carrying the flag of Spain and being financed by the Spanish King Charles V, Magellan and his fellow explorers did not sail accidentally or intentionally south to Mazaua, Butuan in Mindanao. The Portuguese navigators who sailed from Portugal down to South Africa, then eastward through the Indian Ocean to Mindanao via Indonesia had occupied the big Mindanao Island one year before Magellan and his troops landed in Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte. The natives of Mazaua, Butuan mistook the Portuguese explorers from Portugal as that of Magellan's explorers from Spain.
"The Portuguese had known where Magellan's fleet was bound before it even sailed; warships would surely be waiting to stop it from reaching the Moluccas. Even if Magellan found the Moluccas, loaded his ships with precious spices and then got away, most ports and trading stations on the route back to Spain would be Portuguese outposts and closed to him." Since some Portuguese captains and navigators and their crew had explored and colonized Mindanao Island, they would have arrested Magellan and his men if they landed in Mazaua, Butuan which was a Portuguese outpost and trading station in Mindanao. The Portuguese authorities arrested and jailed the entire 54 crew members of Trinidad, Magellan's flagship after the ship was repaired and loaded with spices on its EASTWARD voyage from the Spice Islands to the planned Panama in Central America, where they could transship the spices to another ship bound for Spain!
Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar
Some people in Homonhon Island and Samar also claimed that Magellan and his fellow sailors must have some kind of religious festivity shortly after they landed on the island. Magellan's troops had a terrible experience after they landed in Guam, which they called Las Islas de los Ladrones (the island of thieves). So, according to the groups supporting the "First Mass" in Homonhon, Magellan and his sailors had a mass in the island to thank God for their safe trip from Guam and the vast Pacific Ocean:
"Pigafetta did not exactly say that it was their first mass, he only reported that a mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday [in Mazzaua Island]. Atty. Mendiola concludes in his paper, 'that the mass on Homonhon island on the 19th day of March 1521, was the first one celebrated in the Philippines, not one at Limasawa or Mazaua on the 31st of that month. Any passage or statement to the contrary in our history books would be unsustainable under present historiography.'
"Notwithstanding these debates when the first mass was celebrated, the fact remains that it was in Homonhon that Magellan first landed. And today, we commemorate that event and celebrate its greater significance. The historian Agoncillo writes that it was through this trip that the Europeans first learned of the existence of the Philippines. It also proved that the earth was round; it established the vastness of the Pacific Ocean; it proved that the East Indies could be reached by crossing the Pacific and finally, it showed that the Americas was really a land mass entirely separate from Asia.
"While Magellan discovered the existence of the Philippines, for me, the greater significance of Magellan's arrival in Homonhon, was it showed the world, that we in Samar, already had a society, a culture of our own. Pigafetta wrote that 'their seignior was an old man who was painted. He wore two gold earrings in his ears and the others many gold armlets on their arms and kerchiefs about their heads... They have very black hair that falls to the waist and use daggers, knives, and spears ornamented with gold, large shields, fascines, javelins and fishing nets that resemble rizali and their boats are like ours.'
"Later on, Jesuit missionaries who came and settled our island would document this culture. Our society then was structured according to social classes which dictated not only the behavior of men and women but also the manner of dressing from head to toe, from cradle to their graves."
Mahaba Island, Placer, Surigao del Norte
Finally, another group of people in northeastern Mindanao claimed that Magellan's expedition actually had the "First Mass" in Mahaba Island in Surigao del Norte:
"It was recorded that when he was nearing the shores of Mindanao, Magellan saw lights of a settlement which he avoided and sailed farther north [actually south of Panaon island] and anchored near an island named Mazzava, now mark on maps as Mahaba Island, located at latitude nine and two thirds degrees.
"Magellan during that time was using an astrolabe to determine his latitude location and the accuracy of this instrument was plus or minus one degree. They must have landed and then check their latitude location which was why they read to one-third of a degree, which they could not have done [so] on a moving ship. There was no way during that time to determine [the] longitude as the chronometer which could measure [the] longitude was only invented by James Harrison, an Englishman, in 1740.
"Mazzava Island appears on present detailed maps of the area to be Mahaba Island in the Municipality of Placer, Surigao del Norte. Magellan could have mistaken Mahaba Island, a small island to be part of Masepilid Island because it is almost touching this bigger island, and at low tide, it could easily be mistaken to be connected to the bigger island at the northern tip. This could be the reason that the island where they landed was described as shaped like a stingray, which Masepilid is, and about 10 x 5 miles in area.
"If present maps (1: 50,000 sheet Taganan No.) will be examined today, it will be noted that Mahaba Island is very close to the island of Masepilid and the flotilla of Magellan most probably anchored between these two islands. It will be noted also that Masepilid is shaped like a stingray as described by Pigafetta."
Was it the "First Mass" in the Philippines or Asia?
The "First Mass," an Easter Mass, argument whether it happened in Limasawa, Mazaua, Homonhon or Mahaba is worthless. The right description is Introduction of Christianity in the Philippines. Again and again, the Easter Mass is non-biblical in origin! Filipinos are dead wrong with their claim of having the "First Mass" in the orient. The Philippines is part of Asia, and it was connected by a land bridge to mainland Asia thousands of years ago, according to some scientists.
The priests and missionaries introduced Christianity and the Mass in Asia several centuries long before Spain and Portugal came into power. Hundreds of years before Magellan's expedition to the Philippines, the Chinese had traveled to and from our country to barter their goods and products with our ancestors' goods and products. Since the priests and missionaries introduced Christianity to China during and after the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it is egocentric for Filipinos to assume that no Christian missionary from China came to the Philippines to spread the gospel. After all, the New Testament Church, which started in 31 A.D., taught and lived by example as written in the New Testament Bible that the followers of Christ must "go into the entire world and preach the gospel unto every one"!
Here is the proof:
"Christianity was first introduced into China from Central Asia during the early years of the Tang dynasty (618-907), as part of a widespread missionary movement by the Assyrian Church, the members of which are widely but inaccurately referred to as Nestorian Christians. Christianity in China was suppressed in the mid-9th Century but underwent a revival under the Khitan and Mongol regimes from the 12th to the 14th centuries, and during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) the 'Nestorian' church had a strong presence amongst the Uighur population in the western fringes of China.
"It was also during the Yuan dynasty that the Catholic Church first reached China. A series of Franciscan missions had been sent out by the papacy to Persia, India and China from the year 1241, but the first mission to actually reach China was that of John of Montecorvino (1246-1328), who had set out in 1289, and arrived at the capital of the Mongol Empire, known to Europeans of the time as Cambaluc (literally 'City of the Khan', which is modern Beijing) in 1294. He built two churches in the capital and is reputed to have translated the New Testament and Psalms into Chinese, but these translations no longer exist.
"In 1307 Pope Clement V sent seven Franciscan friars, each with the rank of bishop, to China in order to consecrate John as Archbishop of China. Only three of the seven, Gerard, Peregrine and Andrew of Perugia, survived the long journey, arriving in Cambaluc in 1308.
"Although John had established a strong presence in the capital, there were no missionary outposts elsewhere in China until Friar Gerard was sent to Zayton (Quanzhou) as bishop of the city. It seems that Zayton was chosen as the only bishopric outside the capital as it already had a Christian presence there in the form of a church that had been founded by a 'rich Armenian lady'. This church was established as a cathedral, and Gerard became the first bishop of Zayton. The fact that the existing church was converted into the Catholic cathedral would suggest that it may have been a Catholic church, and that at least some of the existing Christians of Zayton may have been Catholics associated with maritime trade rather than all Nestorians from Central Asia, who the Franciscans regarded as heretics..."
Believe the pro-Masao proponents or Pigafetta's book and the Portuguese Government's historians?
When it concerns the historical accuracy of Magellan's westward expedition from Spain to the Spice Island in Indonesia via the Philippines, whom and how do you secure the right facts from? The so-called experts and supporters of "Magellan's landfall in Mazaua next to Butuan City, which does not exist when you search for it through the Google Earth satellite software, or do you believe Antonio Pigafetta's original book and that of the Portuguese Government's historians?
In 1997, this writer happened to visit for the first time Masao or Mazaua in Butuan City. He participated in a study-tour to Davao, Cotabato, and Agusan del Norte in Mindanao together with over 65 barangay captains from Maasin, the capital of Southern Leyte. While in Butuan City, they saw some of the antique exhibits inside a little museum in Mazaua. They did not see a hill or mountain. They did not see the other islands as mentioned and sketched in Pigafetta's logbook when he was on top of a hill in "Mazzaua island." The visitors arrived at the site of the so-called Magellan's "First Mass" in Butuan City, not by sailing ships like that of Magellan's expedition, but by 3-chartered buses from Maasin, Southern Leyte!
Mazaua in Butuan City is not an island! It is a flat delta formed by one of the many rivers in Butuan City in which the river split into two: one flowed towards the north-northeast and the other one to the west. There is no island off the Butuan City! (Do yourself a favor. Please see the revealing satellite photograph of Butuan City and its suburbs by using and playing Google Earth Satellite software.)
Pigafetta's diary or logbook provided clues as to why Magellan did not land in Mazaua, Mindanao
Limasawa's east side where on the southeastern coast
They landed on the island where they saw a fire the night before
From Guam, Magellan and his troops landed in Homonhon Island for 8 days and replenished their 3 remaining ships for their basic needs. Then they lifted anchors and sailed towards the eastern side of Leyte Island and veered southward. They saw Dinagat Island to the east of Southern Leyte. They saw San Pablo and San Pedro islands off the coast of Hinunangan, Southern Leyte. They saw Panaon Island almost touching the southeastern tip of Leyte Island as they sailed along the eastern coast of Panaon.
After they passed through the southern tip of Panaon Island, Magellan and his fellow sailors saw a fire! Pigafetta wrote in his logbook that "we had seen a fire on an island the night before, we anchored near it." From south of Panaon Island, they veered westward to the longitude and latitude of the island in which they saw a fire.
To the expert investigator and researcher on true history like that of the Crime Scene Investigator (CSI), for instance, riding a sailing ship near the southeastern tip of Panaon Island, when he or she searches the horizon at nighttime from left to right or right to left with a night vision binocular, for instance, there is no way that one can see a fire or light as far as Masao or Mazaua, Butuan City at night, unless an extremely large area of Butuan City is on fire! Butuan City is just too far away to the south (to be exact: south-southeast) to be able to see a fire from the approximate off-shore location - southeastern side of Panaon Island. However, if one looks toward the west from the coast of southern Panaon Island, he/she can see a fire in Limasawa Island when there is a big one. (From a distance, Magellan and his fellow sailors probably saw a bonfire or "kaingin" in what is now called as barangay Magallanes, southeast of Limasawa which faces Panaon Island.)
They landed in small islands
Antonio Pigafetta was the only tourist who paid to travel with Magellan's expedition. He wrote daily without any intermission on everything which happened during the first circumnavigation of the world. Pigafetta wrote about the islands, including some of the Philippine Islands, which he and the others saw and landed on. When he wrote the word, "island" or "islands," he meant what he wrote. When he described "Mazzaua" or "Gatighan" and made a sketch of it, he meant it was exactly an island, although it was not exactly the same as the cartographic map of Limasawa.
Pigafetta's sketch of "Mazzaua" or "Gatighan," which neither look exactly as the one in Butuan City nor in Southern Leyte including its exact longitude and latitude in relation to Leyte and Bohol islands, is the very same Limasawa located in Southern Leyte. It is the very same Limasawa Island which Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, another Spanish explorer and his troops, saw in 1542 or 21 years later when they followed Magellan's route from Spain westward to the Philippines via the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
From 1996 to 1998, this writer also visited three times the Limasawa Island. He went over to the scenic and romantic island (ala "Fantasy Island") and participated in the "First Mass" activities together with Congressman Roger G. Mercado of Southern Leyte, Governor Oscar Tan of Southern Leyte, a top regional tourism official from Tacloban City, a bishop from the Maasin Cathedral, and hundreds of other visitors including some friends and relatives. They saw the historical landmark and the modern concrete and around 20-feet tall cross on top of a hill in Limasawa Island. Over at the mountaintop next to the cross, they saw Panaon, Leyte, Bohol, Camiguin, other small islands, and the big Mindanao Island. They saw the same islands that Pigafetta and other members of Magellan's expedition saw.
Pigafetta scribed that when he was on top of a hill in "Mazzaua," he saw the islands which are called as Panaon, Leyte, Bohol, and Surigao in Mindanao. Again, when Pigafetta wrote the word "island" or "islands" in his logbook, he meant exactly what he saw and wrote about them.
He described the "islands" he and the other sailors saw when Magellan's expedition was in South America. He described the "islands" which they saw when they sailed across the vast Pacific Ocean. He described Guam, Samar, Homonhon, Leyte, Panaon, Limasawa, Bohol, Canigao, Camotes, Mactan, Cebu, and other islands in the Philippines. He described the islands in Indonesia, in Africa, the Cape Verde islands off the coast in northwest Africa, and many other islands.
They always made their voyage westward
Magellan and his expedition forces certainly did not sail south towards Mazaua in Butuan unless it was crucial to avoid hitting land while sailing towards the west. After they sailed south off the coast of Panaon Island at night and coincidentally saw the "fire" from an island (Limasawa) west of Panaon, they headed towards it. They were always heading west to search for the Spice Islands. Magellan knew exactly where he and his fellow explorer were sailing! Years earlier in 1511 from Portugal, "he performed important services in the Portuguese conquest of Malacca," which is in Malaysia. Again, Pigafetta wrote: "we had always made our voyage westward and had returned to the same place of departure as the sun." Magellan and his men did not sail towards Mazaua, Butuan in Mindanao because, at present, Mazaua is located far more south; it is exactly south-southeast and almost hidden when viewed from the southern coast of Panaon Island.
Pigafetta had written down each day without any intermission
Pigafetta scribed his original diary or logbook in Italian. Before it was lost, Pigafetta's diary was translated into French and from French to English, and other languages. Other authors, for instance, Gines de Mafra who claimed to be with Magellan's expedition, wrote their own versions of the global voyage but they described their experiences several years later after their circumnavigation. Magellan's survivors of the expedition, exploration, and circumnavigation suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Syndrome. However, in the case of Pigafetta, he "had written down each day without any intermission." Some of the pro-Butuan proponents depend on the books of other authors that obviously suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They were not the log keepers, but apparently moonlighting. The crew members of Magellan's expedition did not have their "job description" as the official travel writers, except Pigafetta who was known as a travel writer. Pigafetta himself paid for his first world circumnavigation under Magellan's command. In regards to the moonlighting authors, they were sort of "lost in translation."
As in other books and magazine articles which many other writers translated the publications into other languages, the exposition, narrative, description, etc. of the actual events, subjects or topics, whether they occurred months to centuries ago, they are not 100% accurate.
Pigafetta's journal is the best and most accurate and reliable book with regards to Magellan's expedition including their journey in the Philippines. You may read the online in English "Magellan's Voyage - a Narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation" and the Tagalog translation "Ang Pagdayo Sa Pilipinas at Unang Pag-ikot sa Mundo".
Here are the additional links about Antonio Pigafetta and Ferdinand Magellan:
More references in favor of Limasawa
There is an excellent book which Father Miguel Bernad, S.J. authored. His book, Butuan or Limasawa: The Site of the First Mass in the Philippines, is available at the Southern Leyte Provincial Library in Maasin City, Southern Leyte. (This writer had read it completely many years ago.) An article also has an identical title as Butuan or Limasawa? The Site of the First Mass in the Philippines: A Reexamination of the Evidence.
Fr. Bernad was a professor of Saint Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao. Fr. Bernad (if this writer still remembers the details of Fr. Bernad's book) went to Mazaua, Butuan City and Limasawa, Southern Leyte to study the Mass held during Magellan's expedition. He conducted research works in Spain and other places related to Magellan's Mass. He concluded that Magellan and his co-explorers landed and held the Mass in Limasawa, Southern Leyte!
Moreover, during Ruy Lopez de Villalobos' expedition in 1542, he and his men followed Magellan's voyage route from Spain to the Philippines. Villalobos and his troops sailed also to Limasawa, Southern Leyte. But they also traveled down to Mindanao where they met their Portuguese counterparts. The Portuguese confronted and protested against the Spaniards as to why they entered illegally in the land which "belonged" to the Portuguese as mandated by Pope Alexander VI (of course, without the approval of the natives in the country). From Mindanao, Villalobos and his troops sailed off and headed north to explore and exploit other places in Leyte and Samar islands. He named our country, Filipinas, which originally composed of Leyte, Samar, and the nearby islands in honor of King Felipe II of Spain.
Magellan did not drop anchors next to Mazaua, Mindanao for security reasons
Ferdinand Magellan was considered the first sailor to circumnavigate the world. Years earlier before he sailed westward from Spain to the Philippines, he had sailed eastward from Portugal to Malacca in Malaysia, not too far from the Spice Islands. During the exploration era of Portugal to the East and Spain to the West of the demarcation line which the Pope in Rome established for them, the Portuguese and Spanish captains and navigators knew that it was dangerous to venture nearer to and drop their anchors next to big islands, more so when they were total strangers to the big islands.
For security reasons during the westward exploration from Spain, Magellan and his troops in 3 remaining sailing ships did not drop anchors in Mazaua, Butuan City, Mindanao because it is the second largest island in the Philippines. They did not do it when they saw Samar Island, the third largest island. They did not do it in Leyte, the eight largest island. But they dropped their anchors in the small Limasawa Island located southwest off Leyte.
They dropped anchors in the big Cebu Island because they had Rajah Ka Lambu from Mazzaua/Limasawa Island who escorted them to see Rajah Humabon, the chieftain of Cebu, and to secure provisions. Cebu, during the time when Magellan visited, was already a popular shipping port among the traders from China and other countries in South Asia. The people in Cebu and Mactan were familiar with foreign sailing ships even long before Magellan's expedition arrived.
Limasawa is the top destination for the 500th Anniversary of
Let us see what will happen on March 31, 2021. It will be the 500th Anniversary of the "First Mass" on Easter in the Philippines, God willing. If or when the Pope and the rest of the top ranking priests and nuns of the Roman Catholic Church, the Portuguese and Spanish royal families, foreign government officials and/or their representatives, the tourists and visitors from Portugal, Spain, and many other countries that are invited to participate in the 500th Anniversary, majority of them will go to Limasawa, Southern Leyte! "Mazaua or Mazzaua" island near Butuan City does not exist. Pigafetta described it as an island with hills and mountains. He described the entire activities and events before, during and after Magellan and his fellow sailors landed on it.
Masao or Mazaua near Butuan City was and is not the same "Mazzaua" which Pigafetta described as the island where they held the "First Mass" on Easter in the Philippines. It is the "unwritten history" that the Portuguese colonized Mindanao before Magellan discovered "Mazzaua island" for Spain, and that the Portuguese knew exactly where Magellan landed - in Limasawa, Southern Leyte.
Pigafetta mentioned "islands" many times during their entire circumnavigation of the world. When he and the survivors of Magellan's expedition sailed on the way back towards Spain and as they sailed in the vicinity of Cape Verde, a group of islands located off the coast of northwest Africa, Pigafetta wrote:
"On Wednesday, the ninth of July , we arrived at one of these islands named Santiago, where we immediately sent the boat ashore to obtain provisions. And we charged our men in the boat that, when they were ashore, they should ask what day it was. They were answered that to the Portuguese it was Thursday, at which they were much amazed, for to us it was Wednesday, and we knew not how we had fallen into error. For every day I, being always in health, had written down each day without any intermission. But, as we were told since, there had been no mistake, for we had always made our voyage westward and had returned to the same place of departure as the sun, wherefore the long voyage had brought the gain of twenty-four hours, as is clearly seen."
Let us stop the arguments or debates on Magellan's exact location of the Philippines' "First Mass" which was on Easter. Again, Easter is a pagan event which originated from Babylon or Iraq few thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ! Those who continue to argue or debate are possibly members or supporters of the secretive groups, "front" clubs or societies which are known to have caused destability and division in foreign governments and their people, and to have imposed their own hidden agenda. The so-called important historical debates cannot provide the drastic needs for over 107.7-million Filipinos.
Magellan studied Columbus' achievements before he and his fellow explorers risked their own lives to search for the Spice Islands via the uncharted west. He did not sail to dramatize the "First Mass" on Easter in Mazzaua island. He and his troops accidentally sailed down in the Philippines where Lapu-lapu killed the unfortunate Magellan and few others in Mactan Island.
Let us learn from Columbus' re-discovery of America: "The first place Christopher Columbus landed when he came to the New World in 1492 was an island of the Bahamas. Columbus claimed the island for Spain and named it San Salvador. Historians are not sure which island Columbus landed, but they think it may have been present-day San Salvador (formerly Watling Island) or Samana Cay." Although Columbus had explored the Caribbeans 4 times in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502, there are proponents for 7 other possible landing sites as to where exactly Columbus and his troops first anchored and landed during their 1492 voyage to the Caribbean Islands!
Countdown to the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines
For the sake of unity to our country's diverse Christian denominations, for the sake of the Messianic believers, independent Christian groups and other religious organizations and institutions, for the sake of the tourism and hospitality industries, and for the sake and success of the coming 500th Anniversary celebration on March 31, 2021, we Filipinos need to get rid of the terminology "First Mass"! Instead the right, proper or logical description of the historical and religious events which occurred during the expedition, exploration and circumnavigation must be "Magellan's Introduction of Christianity" in Homonhon, Limasawa, Cebu, and one more of over 7,600 islands in the Philippines!
Limasawa is one of the best tourists' destinations located southwest of Southern Leyte. It is an attractive, beautiful, tropical island with coral reefs around the northern side, white sandy beaches along the central and southern coasts, hills and mountains and thick green vegetations - mostly coconuts and banana plantations - and rock formations! It has a pier. It has the eagles and other colorful birds of the tropics. It has two light towers, one in the north and another one in the south of the island to warn and guide the passenger and cargo ships traveling at night time. It has the solar cells which provide electricity in the daytime, and the electric generator engine to provide electricity at nighttime.
Limasawa is the green, photogenic and scenic island, equal in beauty and quality as that of the famous Boracay Island, according to one of our country's travel writers. It is the ideal tropical island which is popular among the local and foreign scuba divers and fishing aficionados. It is the ideal destination for tourists and other visitors to go camping, hiking, swimming and diving with the whale shark, boating and fishing around the island town which looks like a tadpole from the air. It is one of the best islands in the country to visit, to tour, to take a vacation, get married, have a honeymoon, to hold a triathlon, and just to have fun all day and through the night.
Once again, Pigafetta wrote in his logbook that "we had seen a fire on an island the night before, we anchored near it." On it, Magellan's explorers landed on the western side and introduced not just the "First Mass" on Easter, but more on the historical and spiritual elements about Christianity to the inhabitants of Limasawa, Southern Leyte, Philippines!
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