Sunday, November 7, 2010

Project Description
This focus study entitled “Doon Po Sa Amin, Yani Hong Una nga Misa” Subtitle :Bood Promontory,1st Eastern Mass, Butuan Historic Site is an entry for “DOON PO SA AMIN QUEST ” under Events and Places to see . For many years, Limasawa and Butuan have been contesting their evidences, claiming to be the site of the first mass. The team want to create awareness regarding the true story behind it's exact location. The study is based on the evidences as documented by Antonio Pigafetta as they anchored the shores where they found a " fire on the island," The island they referred to was geographically located with ranges from 9o to 9o 40' N of equator which is the exact location of Masao, Butuan ( 9o N ).

The team conducted a research about the 1st Eastern Mass in the Philippines, which is now called Bood Promontory (Bood- means Hill Site in Butuan Dialect ) where holds a dual historical significance where the birthplace of Roman Catholism and to prove that it is not in Limasawa, Leyte but it is in Mazzaua or Masao ,Butuan City ,Agusan del Norte.

The group visited the place situated at Barangay Pinamangculan –Bood Promontory where you can see the Re-enactment of the First Eastern Mass, a big cross, a hill where it was built and an old river below it, which was known as the Masao river and where Magellan and his group set sail 488 years ago overlooks ancient Butuan and Masao River , and it the highest elevation nearest to the seaside village of present day Masao surely it must have been a mute witness to the glory of ancient Butuan and important Trading port with extensive links to various Asian Kingdoms and a Center of the Gold Industry from the 10th to 13th Centuries.

To fully understand the history of the First Eastern Mass, we personally interviewed Father Joesillo Amella, Curator of Butuan Diocesan Liturgical Museum, serve as trustees in Butuan City Cultural and Historical Foundation-BCCHF.

The Researcher aims to:

The study aims to present Butuan's evidences and hopefully, end the long lived battle of the first mass controversy.

Community Profile

Butuan City

Postal Code 8600

Area Code 085, 08521
Land Area 758 sq km
Population 265,806
Distance from Manila 491 miles south

Dialects Spoken Butuanon, Others Include Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Majority can speak and understand Tagalog and English

Butuan City is not only famous for its ancient existence but also for its cultural heritage. Visit the famous museums and take a tour in the Agusan river where you can retrace ancient history and maybe you will find an artifact as well.

Butuan City is one of the major cities in Mindanao and belong
s to the first district of Agusan Del Norte which is part of the region 13 in the Philippines called Caraga. This city is a highly urbanized city and is also said to be one ofthe oldest in Mindanao. Let us experience Butuan City together and see what we can find out about this metropolis.

Butuan City is a gate way to all the other cities in Mindanao since it is strategically located along the shore with access to piers and sea travel. Butuan is not called the history haven for nothing, in fact Butuan had been a city before the Philippines ever became a country and the origins of this city date back to the 4th century. This metropolis is also known as the timber city of the south and with all the timber and artifacts from its history in between Butuan makes a special blend of a city.

You can reach this city via plane of boat and you can use the b
us if you are coming from central Mindanao or Southern Mindanao. Before venturing out into an expedition, you should secure yourself a good bed to sleep in and that is why you may want to visit the Almont Hotel or look for other numerous inns and apartelle’s that you can stay in for less.

Now you got to pack in some food and drinks with you and make yourself on the way to experience Butuan City. You should experience a boat ride along the longest river in Mindanao; the Agusan River. If you have a choice, you should opt for a Balangay boat that is famous and unique to Butuan only. This boat has been invented in the early 4th century and is unique from all the other boats in the world. Once you are on the river, you will experience history at its best and if you happen to bring any locals with you, the better your tour will be because many locals know ancient history so much better than the tour guides who only studies it and never experienced it.

Another must see in Butuan City is the famous golden ima
ge of Agusan wh

ich is called the Golden Tara. The Golden Tara is a gold figurine that weighs four pounds and this figuring depicts a female deity of the ancient times. Since you are already taking a look at the culture of Butuan City, you might as well take a deeper and closer look at the National Museum or the Balangay Shrine Museum where you will find exhibits of archeological findings in the Butuan region and you will see Balangay displays and history in the other museum.

For the adventurer in you, you can conquer the Mount Mayapay which serves as landmark to the city of Butuan. You will be able to retrace history through climbing and you will definitely have a spectacular view over Butuan. If this is all not enough for you, then you might want to stay in the city for one of its numerous festivals and so-called fiestas.

Butuan City is often underestimated by travelers, which serves as an advantage becau
se the visitor will experience for themselves what Butuan City truly has to offer historically and culturally.


Butuan, chartered city, southern Philippines, capital of Agusan del Norte

Province, near the mouth of the Agusan River, on the northern coast of Mindanao. The city is a trade center for the Agusan river valley, where lumber, gold, abaca, and copra are produced.

Butuan is reputed to be the site at which the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan proclaimed Spanish sovereignty over the Philippine Archipelago in 1521. Population

(1999 estimate) 247,074.

Butuan is believed to have originated from the sour fruit "Batuan". Others s

aid, it came from a certain "Datu Buntuan " a chieftain who once ruled Butuan. Scholars believed it came from the word "But-an, which literally means a person who has a sound and discerning disposition.

History of Butuan

Butuan City was originally located in Pinamangculan by the banks of the Masao River, about a kilometer from the barrio of Libertad. Finding the place less ideal because of the flood, the people moved to Maug, now the municipality of Magallanes, at the mouth of Agusan river, they again transferred to Lapaca, now known as Linungsuran in barrio Banza about five kilometer inland Agusan River. Still troubled by floods, the people once more settled, some eighty years ago, this time permanently, in a higher place called Agao, which is the present site of the City proper. A description of Butuan is not complete without infusing it with the significance of the Agusan River and its tributaries that provide the valley with rich soil from periodic floods. Its serpentine route through the city and the two Agusan provinces provide the people with easy means of transportation for trade and commerce and encourage settlement along its banks. The Agusan River greatly helped the booming of the "Logging Industry" which earned Butuan the name " Timber City of the South". Butuan sprawls across the Agusan River nine kilometers from its mouth. Towards this, to the north and seaward, run fertile rice lands. Halfway round the city to the southwest, roll the gently sloping hills over there Mount Mayapay looms. To the east, the majestic Hilong-hilong and Diwata mountain ranges protect the entire valley from fierce Pacific storms. Its very difficult to pinpoint the exact time when the name Butuan first emerged. Certainly, the name Agusan came into being upon the creation of the province in 1914. Before this, the entire area had been known as such, as

can be born out by old historical records.

The First Mass

The first mass in the Philippines was on Easter Sunday March 31, 1521[1] in an island named Mazaua by eyewitnesses Antonio Pigafetta, Ginés de Mafra, Francisco Albo, the Genoese pilot, and Martín de Ayamonte, at a location today universally—and mistakenly—believed to be Limasawa, a town islet to the tip of Southern Leyte province, and is said to be the birthplace of Roman Catholicism in the country.

The historical event, viewed largely in its religious context in the Philippines but more comprehensively in its global context as a fleeting episode of the 1,081-day circumnavigation of the world, came to pass when Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his Armada de Molucca of three sailing ships, landed in the western port of the island of Mazaua.

On March 31, 1521, Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan led his men ashore to hear the Easter Sunday Mass with Fr. Pedro Valderama officiating.March 31 then was a Sunday.

At present, Limasawa I
sland in Southern Leyte was designated as First Mass site. A shrine was built in Limasawa Island by then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

Balanghai boats dug in 1976 in Butuan City.

But local Butuan historians have been contesting for decades that designating Limasawa as the First Mass site has no basis at all.

The Butuan historians
supported by the Butuan City Government have been claiming that traditionally before 19th century, Butuan’s Mazaua not Limasawa in Leyte has been officially recognized by both the Church and historians as the site of the First Catholic Mass in the Philippines ,local historian Greg Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said that in 1996 the Gancayco Commission came out with a resolution supposedly to finally declare Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte as the site of the First Mass.

Hontiveros added.

In 1997, the case was
re-opened and a new fact finding body was formed headed by Dr. Benito Legarda paving the way for Butuan City to further submit voluminous evidences to its original claims.

Hontiveros said.

“We are only rightfully asking for what is originally ours”,

Hontiveros in conclusion told this writer in an interview.

Now for the hard part. No doubt, the pro Butuan first mass advocates did their homework well by researching documents and maps all the way from Spain and the archives in Manila to present a convincing proof that indeed the first mass is in Masao, Butuan and not in Limasawa. Sure they have the accounts of Pigafetta, Francisco de Albo, the Genoese Pilot and Gines de Mafra to back up their claims.

The only missing link to this is, where is the island? Of course , study said that Pinamanculan and Bancasi areas were once an island. Sure balanghai boats were seen in that vicinity. But the question is, is that enough to conclude that indeed the place was once an island.

A skeptic could claim that maybe its a shipbuilding area or a burial area but not a port or something.

I personally would want that Butuan be declared the place where the first mass was held. But still the advocates should convince that indeed there was once an island located near the area. But as I said, its harder to convince the authorities now specially that the “island” which the crew of Magellan have repeatedly mentioned was already inexistent as far as the Butuan claim is concern.

Claims for the Official Site of the First Mass

The dispute of the precise identity and location of the first Catholic mass offered on Philippine soil has become subject of writings (of historians and scholars). There had been differing interpretations of both primary and secondary sources of the account of Magellan's sojourn on Philippine waters. These differences produced full-blown arguments between the two claimants - Limasawa, Leyte and Masao, Butuan.

The belief that "Mazaua" was in Butuan existed for three centuries - from the 17th to the 19th century. This belief was popularized by Fr. Francisco Colin with his Labor Evangelica published in 1663 which contained an account of Magellan's voyage and a revelation of the first mass in the Philippines was held in Butuan. After four years, Fr. Francisco Combes, in his Historia de Mindanao y Jolo, mentioned of a planting of the cross in Butuan.

The Butuan tradition persisted throughout the 18th century

The shift of the belief regarding the site of the first mass, from Masao, Butuan to Limasawa, Leyte, was brought by scholars like Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera who on March 31, 1895, in an article written for a Manila newspaper declared that "Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth, because not only was Butuan not the piece of Philippine soil on which the first mass was celebrated but it was not even visited by that bold navigator [Magellan] in his memorable expedition."

The other scholar was Fr. Pablo Pastells who departed from the Butuan tradition and who prepared a new edition of Colin's Labor evangelica which was published in 1903. This publication contained a correction of the Butuan tradition, particularly Colin's assertion that the first mass was celebrated in Butuan, with the revelation that "Magellan did not go to Butuan. Rather, from the island of Limasawa he proceeded directly to Cebu. In that island he had dealings with Rajah Siagu, chieftain of Butuan; and this would explain the author's (i.e., Colin's) error. See the 'Voyage' of Pigafetta and the diary of Albo, both of whom were eyewitnesses."

This down drift of the Butuan tradition and uplift of the Limasawa claim has been generally accepted since the onset of the 20th century.

The Congress, in 1960, enacted Republic Act No. 2733 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."

Upon this sad fate for the Butuan tradition, a filing of a bill in Congress was initiated through Representative Charito Plaza of Butuan in 1995 to "Declare the site in Masao, Butuan City as the place where the first Easter mass in the Philippines was held," The bill's contention was that the wooden boat called "balanghai" dug up at Butuan proved it was Mazaua. This bills was obviously an attempt to repeal R.A. 2733 but has remained unacted upon today.

The Philippine Congress referred the matter to the concern of the National Historical Institute (NHI). The NHI then created a Panel "to hear the presentation of evidence pertaining whether or not the First Mass was held in Masao, Butuan or in Limasawa, Leyte." The panel was headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Emilio A. Gancayco, and members Bartolome C. Fernandez Jr. and Dr. Ma. Luisa T. Camagay.


We would like to thank the following websites for the information and pictures.

Team Profile

Adviser: Mrr. Restituto C. Navarro

Moderator/Coach: Mrs. Ophelia C. Balla

Researchers and writers:

  • Mylet C. Curilan
  • Mae Chelou L. Dicdican
  • Mariane P. Arciga
  • Althea Lopez
  • Leonella Marie T. Silvosa
  • Andrea Gabriele Estrobo

Activities Undertaken

Target Date of Implementation

Activity /Tasks of Pupils


Task Output/ Remarks

August ,2010

Selection of members

Mrs. Ophelia C. Balla

Identifying pupils who will join the contest

Registration Period

Mrs. Ophelia C. Balla

Faxed the Registration Form to DSPA

Visited the Site

Barangay Babag , Butuan City

Researcher and the coach /Principal Mr. Restituto Navarro and Mrs. Lorna C. Conde

Actually interviewing

Assignment of Task by the group – individual

Mrs Ophelia C.Balla-caoch

Mylet Curilan- researching Leonella Silvosa – Writes –up

Althea Lopez- Layout Artist

Mariane Arciga & Andrea Gabrielle Estrobo - Team Profile and Community Profile

Mae Chelou L. Dicdican – informations about bood promontory

September ,2010

Pupils are computer literate already- Familiarization in Making Blogs. Visits Bloggers .com

Mrs. Ophelia C. Balla

Start Making their Blogs.


October, 2010

Additional Information and Editing of blogs

October 25-30,2010

November 3-6,2010

Editing for Submission

Final Editing for Submission