NHCP affirms Limasawa site of 1521 Easter Sunday Mass
MAASIN CITY, Aug. 25 (PIA) — The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has affirmed what many scholars and common folks knew all along, that the island town of Limasawa was the venue of the First Mass on Philippine soil held on an Easter Sunday.
“Now therefore, the NHCP Board hereby adopts the recommendation of the Mojares Panel that the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines took place in Limasawa, Southern Leyte,” the Commission said in one of the “whereases” of its Resolution No. 2, during a board meeting on July 15, 2020.
The resolution was signed by Rene Escalante, commissioner and chairman, as well as other members and ex-officio members except one, and was made public through facebook posts on Thursday, August 20.
The decision was the latest in a long line of previous decisions promulgated by special bodies that were created by the National Historical Institute, forerunner of NHCP, to settle the controversy over the March 31, 1521 event as advocates of the so-called Butuan tradition kept on insisting their claim.
“Historical issues are settled by creating a panel of scholars . . . the Tan workshop in 1980, Gancayco Panel in 1997, and the Legarda Panel in 2009 — all ascertained Limasawa, Southern Leyte as the site of the event,” the resolution said.
But as the 500th anniversary of Christianity of the Philippines approaches, “the NHCP heeded the request of various personalities and institutions, especially the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), to hear once more the claimants that the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines was held in Butuan.”
Thus, a six-man panel of scholars headed by Dr. Resil Mojares was constituted by NHCP which “reviewed the result of the earlier panels created by NHI and the position papers submitted by pro-Butuan and pro-Limasawa advocates.”
Studies and literature on the historical issue was also reassessed by the Mojares Panel, including available, existing copies of Antonio Pigafetta writings, surveyed the presumed locations of the two sides, and consulted experts on geology and maps.
Their task finished, the Mojares Panel report was then submitted for review by historical associations and history departments of prestigious universities in the country and they “concurred on the findings of the panel and found the same to be acceptable and scholarly done following the rigors of the discipline.” (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)