A Call to the Catholic Church in the Phils. to Declare the True Site of the "Primera Misa"

A Call to the Catholic Church in the Phils. to Declare the True Site of the "Primera Misa"

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Butuan Quincentenario started this petition to Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Committee on the Cultural Heritage of the Church and

M A N I F E S T A T I O N    

"On Easter Sunday, the First Mass was celebrated by his chaplain in Butuan” 

With less than two (2) years from now, the Catholic Church will mark the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines. A very important event to us all as it causes us to reflect on the beginning of our Christian faith that has shaped not only the belief of the peoples in this archipelago but also our way of life as Catholic Filipinos.

Correspondingly, WE, the people of the City of Butuan hereby MANIFEST, That –

1. Contemplating on how the Christian faith was introduced to our ancestors, ours is founded on a very unique evangelical act as it commemorates our Redemption in that Easter Mass on March 31, 1521. It was the time Ferdinand Magellan also claimed our forefathers to God. Accordingly, we cannot brush aside the island of Mazaua outside the realm of what is of paramount importance to the beginning of our Christian faith. Neither should the conundrum hounding its real site for centuries be left to linger on;

2. The first recorded act of evangelization in the Philippines, which refers to the 1521 Easter Mass, is predominantly the religious heritage of the Catholic Church that is its core concern. It rests within the ecclesiastical domain of the Church. Thus, we now implore the Church to state its ecclesiastical exegesis where the first Mass in our country actually took place, and not be made by a historical agency of our government which pivots toward the province of politics;

3. The Church is not without records of its history in the archipelago. In fact, if we abide by Church documents -- it will point us to an extremely useful and complete old church document which dates back to 1574 and is called “Anales Ecclesiasticos de Philipinas”;

4. In its desire to keep a record of occurrences and historical events in the archipelago, the Anales was written three (3) years after the Spaniards occupied Manila in 1571. An original and official Church record that must be viewed from the Christian standpoint as sources at first hand, being a chronological record of the daily events of each year in the earliest period of the Church during the sixteenth century;

5. As may be gleaned from the pages of this document, the first Mass is logged as the first record at the beginning of its entry. Evidently, this guides us to a concrete fact that the Primera Misa, officiated by Fr. Pedro de Valderrama during the Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday) of March 31, 1521, was celebrated in Butuan;

6. The fact contained in the Anales antedates the present controversy. There is no showing in this document that would suggest that the entries therein were contrived to prove a point in the present controversy between Limasawa of Southern Leyte and Butuan. Neither was it entered in the records to favor a certain place among the contestants. Rather, it is the ancient account of the unadorned fact in noting the TRUE and ACTUAL site of the first Mass in the Philippines which is Butuan;

7. There has been hitherto no compelling evidence adduced sufficient enough to overthrow the weight of Anales, as a prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts stated therein, that Butuan is the situs of the first Mass in our country;

8. The reference of Limasawa, made by Emma Blair and James Alexander Robertson in 1905 in their book “The Philippine Islands”, as the Mazaua in Antonio Pigafetta’s diary is of footnote significance. These American authors clearly failed to provide a peremptory explanation on why has Pigafetta’s Mazaua become Limasawa, and how they arrived at such an inference? Obviously, the want of evidence to prove such reference argue against its acceptance. It should have been taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.

As a matter of fact, in 1910, Spain clarified the confusion and ambiguity created by this error asserting that: “Maintaining the Spanish tradition that they celebrated the first Mass in this archipelago in Butuan (Mindanao) instead in Limasawa on 31 March 1521” ;

9. In the symposium, “Las Islas del Poniente”, held in Butuan City last January 30 this year, Dr. Jose Maria Sanz presented and expounded on the 1522 Portulano which depicted the island of Mazaua as within the periphery of Butuan in Mindanao rather than in the land mass of Leyte in Visayas;

10. Subsequently, in February this year, Mr. Dionisio Redondo expressed the corroboration by these Spanish experts in his letter to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) echoing the assertion of Butuan that, the celebration of the first Mass in the Philippines from Magellan’s expedition was had when the expeditionaries anchored the Castillan flag in Butuan on Easter Sunday 1521;

11. The proximity of Mazaua to Butuan as depicted in the Portulano is, with even stronger reason, proof that Mazaua is located in Mindanao within the border of Butuan;

12. Finally, this 1522 Portulano representation of the position of Mazaua is corroborated in the manuscript of José María Ortuño Sánchez-Pedreño entitled "THE EXPEDITION OF RUY LOPEZ VILLALOBOS TO THE ISLANDS OF THE SEA OF THE SOUTH AND OF THE WEST. STUDY HISTÓRICO-JURÍDICO" whereby it categorically reveals the geographical location of Mazaua from the account of the Villalobos expedition narrating that: “this galley had gone to the island of Maçagua, north of Mindanao.” 

In view of the foregoing, it is without doubt that the strength of these documentary evidence is sufficient as to engender a prudent man to believe that Mazaua island is within the territory of Butuan. These documents are so overwhelming to be too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.

Hence, if the place whereupon the first evangelical act performed in our archipelago remains enwrapped in the cloud of uncertainty, the forthcoming commemoration of the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines would prove illusory, like a Holy Mass being offered without an altar.

WHEREFORE, WE, the people of the City of Butuan, guided by the above cited historical documents, SUPPLICATE and PRAY to the Catholic Church, through the Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Church of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), to cast the beacon of truth so as to guide its faithful into the certitude where the Easter Mass was offered in 1521 in our country.

DONE this 19th day of March, 2019 in the City of Butuan, Philippines.

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