Limasawa first mass not a ‘hoax’ – experts

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MANILA, June 8, 2014 – Experts from the National Historical Institute (NHI) claim they have settled the issue over Limasawa being the site of the first mass — something which has not remained unchallenged.

“The National Historical Institute Board has resolved the controversy over the first mass,” National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo on Thursday said, confirming that the first mass was indeed held in Limasawa, Southern Leyte — contrary to the assertions of Vicente Calibo De Jesus, president of Tunog at Liwanag sa Teatro Inc.who believes it was held instead in “Mazaua”.

A panel chaired by Dr. Benito Legardal conducted a public forum at the National Museum, inviting all interested parties to present their evidence, Ocampo said.

Two places lay claim to being the site of the first holy mass in the Philippines: Masao, Butuan and Limasawa in Southern Leyte. (Photo: CNA)

De Jesus, he noted, however, did not attend the forum.

“Since Mr. De Jesus refused to participate in the forum, why does he now contest the outcome?” Ocampo asked.

In response to De Jesus’ claim that the Limasawa first mass was a “hoax” and the real site of the first Eucharistic celebration was in “Mazaua”, an island-port believed to be part of Butuan in Mindanao,
Ocampo said the evidence to support otherwise is all in the panel report and the board resolution.

“Contrary to Mr. De Jesus’ assertions’ the panel report and board resolution are public records,” he added.

Anyone, according to Ocampo, may request the full documentation of the issues from the NHCP.

De Jesus maintains that the first mass was said on Easter Sunday, March 31 1521 at Mazaua.

Two corroborating accounts by Antonio Pigafetta, a 16th century Italian navigator and historian, and Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, a Spanish chronicler and writer, mentioned this event.

“Masawa”, which means brilliant light and crystal clear, is a word used only by Butuanons and their sons, Tausogs.

In one of his Facebook posts, De Jesus called on the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to “stop peddling the Limasawa first mass hoax”, calling the commission a “liar”.

De Jesus is currently collecting signatures for a campaign to “correct the history’ through a petition. (Oliver Samson)

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