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Butuan or Limasawa: To Where Philippine Christianity was Born



I must confess that I was a history geek way back in my elementary days and I even champed a quiz bee competition in our region at the height of my learning stage. My curiosity on Philippine history was so intense that I wished to know everything about the events that occurred prior to the sovereignty we are enjoying today. But this interest suddenly decline the moment I was introduced to the fascinating world of science during my high school days up to the present. I must admit that through time,I have forgotten those important people and events in our history.


Bumping with some of the historical sites here in Butuan including the famous Balangay Shrine rekindled my curiosity about the facts that I have heard long before.Now given with the opportunity to get closer and finally be at the place where those texts in elementary books were originally sourced out made me excited to feed much of my rusty memory about the origin of Philippine Christianity.

As far as I can remember there was an argument that broke in early 1990’s on the place of the first Christian mass was held in the Philippines. In many books during that time it was in Limasawa , an island situated in the southern tip of Leyte. But there were historians who made some studies and ejected the idea and said that the first mass was held in Masao,Butuan in March 31,1521. It was an ending debate that in 1997 some of the historians accepted the mistake about the Limasawa as origin of Philippine Christianity.

Anyway, since I was already in Butuan, I was curious to check the exact location of one of the disputed places-The Bood Promontory and Eco Park.

The park is located in Brgy. Pinamanculan and  less than 7 km from the city proper .The place is somehow secluded from the urbanized  busy city of Butuan. Arriving in the area, there was no other visitors other than me. There was a giant cross that first greeted me and fronting it was the facsimile of the first mass participated by the locals of Masao including the brother kings of Butuan Datu Kulambo and Datu Siaui and the members of  Magellan’s expedition.

There was also the marker in which states the significance of the place and written as follows:

“This hill site (Bood in the Butuan dialect) holds a dual historical significance. This hill overlooks ancent Butuan and Masao River and is 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 as an important trading port with extensive links to various Asian kingdoms and a center of the gold industry from the 10th to the 13th centuries."

"After the 13th century when Butuan began a slow descent from its height as a major trading port and with the shift to Sulu ancent Taosugs who traced their ethnic roots to Butuan would pay a visit to their homeland and plant the Hadlavati tree on this very site."

"On March 31, 1521, on easter Sunday, the Magellan Expedition celebrated the first mass in the Philippine soil in the island called Mazzaua. It was attended by the two brother kings of Butuan and Mazzaua-Calambu and Siaui. In the afternoon Magellan , his crew and his native hosts planted the cross on the Mazzaua, helped in the rice harvest for two days and were regaled by tales of gold in the territory of Butuan and Calagan.”

Downhill  are staircases leading to the Masao River which has been a key witness to all the ancient trading that happened during the pre-hispanic era.

Above the hills you can have an over view of the vast field of the city including some of hills and mountains that surround Butuan.


My only comment on this particular important landmark in the Philippines is that the road leading to the park is somehow had been abandoned for development. 


The current road according to the local that I have talked to said that the primary road is being used by a quarry company where dozens of trucks pass by creating more damages on the unpaved road.

This place had been fought over to the congress challenging and correcting the mistakes done by early historians in the past. I just hope our government either local or national gives a little attention to this important landmark where   everything we have in the present including our identity somehow blossomed in this small piece of land.



Getting there

Coming from Butuan City proper, take a multicab jeep with a sign board Bancasi, fare is Ph10.00. Tell the driver to drop you at the crossing of Brgy. Pinamanculan. At the crossing going to the barangay you will see a signage going to the Bood Promontory & Eco Park. There are habal habals at the waiting shed, the fare is Php 10.00 per passenger but you can negotiate for a back and forth transportation since there are no tricycles or  motor bike waiting at the park. In my case I paid Php50.00 for a solo back ride.


2 comments :

  1. Hi, thanks for visiting my city. An alternative route would be to take a tricycle from balangay shrine and tell the driver to drop you off at the bank of the river going bood (and ask the driver to wait for you). You can ride a banca to cross the other side and climb the stairs to bood. (banca ride is P3 per way).

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  2. thanks for that very informative suggestion Kat . I learned something from you . Can I quote your suggestion to update the article ? thanks.

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