Citations that prove the First Mass in the Philippines was held in Homonhon Island.
The calendar at the time of Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan, was the Julian calendar. When Magellan landed in the island of Homonhon, the date was March 16, 1521. The Julian calendar shows that March 16 was Saturday. Pigafetta says, “Saturday, the 16th of March, 1521, we arrived at daybreak in sight of a high island… This isle is named Zamal (Samar). The next day the captain-general (Magellan) wished to land at another uninhabited island near the first, to be in greater security and to take water, also to repose there a few days. He set up there two tents on shore for the sick, and had a sow killed for them.” (cf: The First Voyage Round the World by Antonio Pigafetta).
The uninhabited island is Humunu (Homonhon) in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The sighting of an island is at “daybreak of Saturday,” March 16. The next day, Sunday, is when Magellan set up “two tents on shore.” This being a Sunday, the Chaplain Priest, should be saying Mass! It may not be a Thanksgiving Mass since the expedition hasn’t returned yet to Spain. But a Mass it should be if we are to believe as Catholics that Sunday is a must for a priest to say Mass! Pigafetta himself said that he did not have to write all that had happened for the sake of brevity when he wrote his report to Lord Philip de Villiers Lisleaden, Grand Master of Rhodes….”and afterwards gave me to understand that you desired to have in writing the things which God of His grace had permitted me to see in my said voyage; therefore to satisfy and accede to your desire, I have reduced into this small book the principal things, in the best manner that I have been able.”
Pigafetta continues, “The island we were at was named Humunu… because we found there two springs of very fresh water we named it the Watering Place of good signs… In this place there were many circumjacent islands, on which account we named them the archipelago of St. Lazarus, because we stayed there on the day and feast of St. Lazarus.
“The Monday of Passion week, the 25th of March, and feast of our Lady, in the afternoon, and being ready to depart from this place, I went to the side of our ship to fish, and putting my feet on a spar to go down to the store room, my feet slipped, because it had rained, and I fell into the sea without any one seeing me, and being near drowning by luck I found at my left hand the sheet of the large sail which was in the sea, I caught hold of it and began to cry out till they came to help and pick me up with the boat.”
March 25th, 1521, is “the Monday of the Passion Week.” Previous to that day is Sunday, and should be Palm Sunday in our present reckoning because Pigafetta was referring to some later occurrences when he wrote that “The next day which was Good Friday.“
Palm Sunday is a day to be celebrated with a Mass, that is, if the priest in the entourage is true to his calling. Pigafetta and the Magellan crew were still on the Island of Homonhon on this date because on Passion Monday, Pigafetta was “being ready to depart from this place.”
We can then believe that we had two Masses celebrated in the island of Homonhon considering that Pigafetta did not have to write everything for the sake of brevity. Another example: “At this place we had refreshments of victuals, like fowls and meat of calves, also a variety of fruits, called battate, pigne (pine-apples), sweet, of singular goodness, and many other things, which I have omitted mentioning, not to be too long.”
Here's a wild idea I can throw around. I hope somebody who can make a difference catches it. It is about making Guiuan a more attractive place. By this I mean making use of the US WW2 occupation era Jetty that was used as pier for barges and littoral vessels during the American Naval Base occupation of our beloved Guiuan town. Right now it is an ugly sight with so many squatters using the Jetty as residences. We would hope that these unwelcome squatters were supposed to be moved to certain areas of town provided by the municipal government; areas that are safe for them rather than be exposed to tidal waves or storm surges during visitations of natural disasters.
Now, when hypothetically this Jetty is cleared of squatters, would it not be better to develop the Jetty into a promenade park where the townspeople can enjoy leisure at any hour of the day or night? Palm trees or any ornamental shrub can be planted for shades and ornamental lighting can be installed for night lights. How about it, Mr. Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales? Maybe we still have some leftover of Typhoon Yolanda calamity funds. Just a suggestion.
Now that Guiuan has caught the attention of the Philippine government because of Typhoon Yolanda, it should be given high consideration when it comes to the recovery and rehabilitation of this historic town. The nation owes some considerable recognition and gratitude for this town, it being the doorway to the Christianization of the islands. Its 16th century Catholic Church, the Immaculate Conception which was designated as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, is gone. The townspeople should now look to the higher authorities to have a museum erected that will house the artifacts of the Church and Guiuan’s rich heritage in order to preserve them for the benefit of future generations. The remaining structure of the Church may still be of use or reparable to the extent that the new additional structure will be able to withstand severe earthquakes and typhoons. Or maybe a new Church on the same location or on another lot, again with the forethought that it can withstand severe earthquakes and typhoons like Yolanda. And while at it, why not rehabilitate the site where Magellan landed in Homonhon Island on March 16, 1521, so that it becomes a great attraction for everyone and especially for those historically-minded tourists.
It’s good to know that the fisher-folks are getting their motorboats, a necessary possession that can let them continue with their productive lives; thanks to government aid. But those who are coconut plantation farmers are going to wait for a while for their coconut trees to mature which take 6 to 8 years to be harvestable. Meanwhile, they need all the help they can get.
Coconut oil, by the way, has a great and many healthy and beneficial uses for the human body. If Guiuan’s coconut production starts to recover, which is a great percentage of the Philippine coconut output, so many Filipinos will be getting benefits from the use of their own coconut product.
Some healthy benefits of Coconut Oil. It is: a) anti-inflammatory, b) antimicrobial, c) antifungal, d) antiviral, and e) improves nutrient absorption.