Guiuan, Limasawa, and entire Eastern Visayas ready for quincentennial events

Guiuan in Eastern Samar and Limasawa in Southern Leyte are all set for the Philippines’ quincentennial commemoration in March.

The festivities in Eastern Visayas run from March 14 to March 18, 2021. Guiuan hosts the opening events of the celebration beginning this month. The commemoration lasts until 2022 to be concluded in Surigao.

The unveiling of three quincentennial markers at Monay Beach, Calicoan Island on March 16, Suluan Island on March 17, and Magellan’s location in Pagbabangnan village, Homonhon Island on March 18 will be some of the highlights of the activities in Guiuan.

On March 17, there will be events in Homonhon Island, which includes a thanksgiving mass at the Magellan’s Site in Pagbabangnan and St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Casuguran village. On March 17, a quincentennial lecture with Dr. Ambeth Ocampo of Ateneo de Manila University in Homonhon Island will be held in the afternoon.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to lead the unveiling of the Quincentennial Historical Marker in Calicoan Island on March 16, according to Kwan.

On the first circumnavigation of the globe, Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet first saw the landmass of Suluan Island after several months of navigating the Pacific Ocean, but did not land there. They waited until the next morning and landed on March 16, 1521, on Homonhon Island, which was uninhabited at the time and was given the name Las Islas de San Lázaro.

The dates of March 16 to 18 are important in the quincentennial celebration’s timeline. Magellan’s fleet, consisting of the ships Concepcion, Trinidad, and Victoria, sighted the island of Suluan on March 16, 1521. They landed on Homonhon Island on March 17, and the next day, on March 18, they encountered the people of Suluan, who fed them and told them about the neighboring islands. Magellan’s party gathered fresh food and water during their two-week stay in Homonhon before departing on March 27, and he was spotted by Rajah Culambo of Limasawa’s boats the next day.

The Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles John Brown, will grace the quincentennial celebration in Limasawa Island. On March 31, 2021, Brown will be the lead celebrant for the Eucharist at the First Easter Sunday Mass.

The alter-ego of Pope Francis and his entourage are scheduled to arrive at the Maasin Airport early on March 31st, at the same time as the pilgrim portrait of the Sto. Nio de Cebu is expected to dock at the Maasin Port.

On the vessel that will transport the Sto. Nio to Limasawa Island, Brown will be accompanied by guests from Manila and Cebu. His first act upon arrival on the island will be to enshrine the portrait of Sto. Nio de Limasawa at the Roman Catholic Church in Triana village. They will then travel to Magallanes village, where he will celebrate a Mass and the start of the 500 Years of Christianity, which will last until the next year.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has reaffirmed previous pronouncements that the first Easter Sunday Mass was held in Limasawa, about eight months before the Philippines’ Quincentennial Commemoration. This came after pro-Limasawa supporters were able to present strong proof that the island did indeed host the First Easter Sunday Mass. Eastern Visayas resident historian and University of the Philippines Professor Rolando Borrinaga was one of those who gave evidence to the panel.

The first documented Catholic Mass in the Philippines was held on March 31, 1521, which was celebrated by Father Pedro de Valderrama on the shores of “Mazaua,” as described in Antonio Pigafetta’s journals.

Photo credit: National Commission for Culture and the Arts. This is an illustration of the First Mass in Limasawa, Southern Leyte on March 21, 1521, by the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan. This historic event introduced Christianity in the Philippines.