As the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines approaches, Agusan del Norte officials firm up their claim over the distinction as the site of the first Mass in the country—and not Limasawa in Southern Leyte.
The Magallanes Municipal Council last year passed Resolution No. 083-2020 declaring the town of Baug—known today as Magallanes, formerly part of Butuan—as the “True Site of the First Mass and Magellan’s Expedition Landfall.” The Agusan del Norte Provincial Board supported the claim by passing Res. No. 487-2020.
The claim that states that Baug was the site of the country’s first-ever Mass was based on accounts of Ferdinand Magellan’s navigator, Gines De Mafra, whose notes evidently matched the description and location of Baug.
According to Mafra, the area was about 2,200 to 3,900 hectares, which does not fit Limasawa.
Magellan’s principal chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, however, reported that the first Mass was celebrated in the Southern Leyte province.
Records from the National Historical Institute show that in 1872, a monument honoring the first Philippine Mass was built close to the mouth of the Agusan River in Baug.
In May of 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 55, which made official the beginning of preparation for the Quincentennial of the Christianization of the Philippines. The celebration kicked off in 2019 and will end next year.