NHCP’s Ruling on the 1521 ‘First’ Easter Sunday Mass Controversy
The decades-long debate on the issue of the site of the Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr. Pedro Valderama during the Magellan-Elcano expedition on March 31, 1521 was finally resolved.
In a resolution, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Board of Commissioners adopted the report submitted by the panel that reviewed the issue surrounding the site of the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines. signed on 15 July 2020 Resolution No. 2, s. 2020 was signed on July 15, 2020. In the report, the panel recommended Limasawa, Southern Leyte, as the site of the said event.
The panel was convened in response to the requests from various institutions, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), even as the anticipation of the Filipino Catholic faithful had just begun for the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in the Philippines (see attached brief background about the process).
Republic Act No. 10086 or Strengthening People’s Nationalism Act of 2009 mandates the NHCP to “actively engage in the settlement or resolution of controversies or issues relative to historical personages, places, dates and events.”
Resolution No. 2, s. 2020
RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAJORES PANEL ON THE SITE OF THE 1521EASTER SUNDAU MASS IN THE PHILIPPINES
WHEREAS, the Republic Act No. 10086 mandates the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to “actively engage in the settlement or resolution of controversies or issues relative to historical personages, places, dates and events;”
WHEREAS, historical issues are settled by creating a panel of scholars, like the case of the site of the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines resolved through the panels organized by the National Historical Institute (NHI, forerunner of the NHCP): Tan Workshop in 1980, Gancayco Panel in 1997, and Legarda panel in 2009—all ascertained Limasawa, Southern Leyte as the site of the event;
WHEREAS, as the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines draws closer, 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;
WHEREAS, the NHCP constituted a six-man panel of scholars headed by Dr. Resil B. Mojares that reviewed the result of the earlier panels created by the NHI and the position papers submitted by pro Butuan and pro-Limasawa advocates;
WHEREAS, the Mojares Panel was supported by the CBCP, having its own church historian seated as a panel member and several members of Church Historians Association of the Philippines, who had religiously attended the panel sessions as observers and reactors;
WHEREAS, the Mojares Panel reassessed the studies and literatures on the historical issue, gathered the extant copies of Pigafetta’s chronicles and other accounts abroad, surveyed the presumed sites of the event in Butuan and Limasawa, and consulted experts in geology and cartography; and
WHEREAS, the Mojares Panel report was submitted for review by the History Department of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), and University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the professional organizations Philippine Historical Association (PHA), Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS), and Asosasyon ng mga Dalubhasa, may Hilig at Interes sa kasaysayan (ADHIKA) ng Pilipinas; UPD, ADMU, DLSU, PHA, and PNHS concurred on the findings of the panel and found the same to be acceptable and scholarly done following the rigors of the discipline.
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.
Approved in the NHCP Board Meeting dated 15 July 2020:http://www.nhcp.gov.ph
For the copies of the Ruling and and the Panel’s Report, go to this link, Official Position of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on the Site of the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass