Talk:Gines de Mafra
Declared fake by the National Historical Institute
NHI created the Gancayco Panel in 1996 composed of retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Emilio Gancayco, chair, Atty. Bartolome C. Fernandez (who became legal officer of the National Commission of Culture and Arts), Dr. Ma. Luisa Camagay, then Chair of the History Dept. of the University of the Philippines. Ex-officio members of the panel who attended all deliberations were Dr. Samuel K. Tan, chair and executive-director of NHI, Asst. Dir. Emelita V. Almosara, and Prof. Augusto V. de Viana. This panel heard arguments by pro-Limasawa and pro-Butuan groups.
In my summation I brought the testimony of de Mafra which argued against the possibility of Limasawa being Magellan's port of March-April 1521. De Mafra said the anchorage of the Armada de Molucca was west of the island-port Mazaua, and combined with the testimonies of Antonio Pigafetta, Francisco Albo, and the Genoese Pilot, Mazaua had a good port. Limasawa has no anchorage, according to the Coast Pilot.
In the Gancayco Panel deliberation of December 17, 1996--according to the testimony of Assistant Director Almosara who I called just a few minutes after the end of the panel's session at around 11 a.m.--the panel accepted the account of Gines de Mafra, the arguments pointing to 9 deg. North as the likely latitude of Mazaua. In March 1998, Gangcayco and the rest of the panel went back on their conclusions and declared de Mafra's account fake. It gave no reason why they contradicted the universal acceptance by every historian aware of de Mafra--Admiral Samuel E. Morison, William H. Scott, Martin J. Noone, R.A.Skelton, Donald D. Brand, Martin Torodash, etc.
Since then de Mafra's account has been widely discussed and copiously quoted in a number of books notably Laurence Bergreen's Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. New York: 2003. The Wikipedia article on de Mafra is now published on one hundred four (104) sites on the Web as of August 18, 2007. --Vicente Calibo de Jesus 23:45, 17 August 2007 (Pacific Daylight Time)
The National Historical Institute-Gancayco Panel Resolution
Here in full is the text of the "findings" of the National Historical Institute on the Mazaua landfall issue, a.k.a., site of the first mass controversy:
1 Page | 1 NATIONAL HISTORICAL INSTITUTE M A N I L A In re: Issue on the Site of the First Christian Mass celebrated on Philippine Soil Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RESOLUTION PROLOGUE One imbued with a deep sense of history cannot but relish every opportunity to go back and travel through time by way of acquiring an intimate familiarity with significantly historical events. Such an opportunity now comes the way of the Panel created by the National Historical Institute to undertake a disciplined inquiry into the past not merely to satisfy curiosities about a historical detail but also, and more importantly, to resolve once and for all the long-festering controversy regarding the actual site of the first-ever Christian mass celebrated on Philippine soil.
It has been said that “the past is prologue”. Verily, a historical inquiry that looks back to the thirty-first of March in the year 1521 serves to provide an insight into what really transpired on that day in a place which Antonio Pigafetta, official chronicler of the Magellan expedition into Philippine shores, called “Mazaua” situated somewhere in the Philippine Islands, as well as its identity and precise location. In order to indulge in this investigative exercise, the Panel needed perspective as to time considering the big leap from 1521 to 1998 covering a span of more than four centuries. It had to situate itself in the actual time frame of Magellan’s voyage in March of 1521. Its endeavor to attain the desired objective has been rendered somewhat thorny by long drawn-out conflicting claims ventilated by two contending groups as to the identity and location of Pigafetta’s “Mazaua”. One claim points to the small island of Limasawa situated south of Leyte in the Visayas, while the other points to a place called Masao located at the mouth (delta) of the Agusan River near Butuan along the coast of Northern Mindanao.
The nature of the resulting controversy being what it is, the resolution thereof has in the final analysis become a matter of evidence. In that regard, the Panel had to conduct hearings at which the contending parties were afforded the amplest opportunity to argue their respective claims and to adduce supporting evidence, free from the constraints of technicalities and rigid formalism. The ultimate end desired was to ascertain the truth about the fact in issue. Parenthetically, this endeavor is in line with the ceaseless effort toward the search for truth that has engaged the attention of men in every epoch of the history of the world. But what is truth is a question that an inquisitive Pontius Pilate rhetorically propounded to Christ as if to betray the speculative skepticism of the time. The selfsame question confronted, in a non-rhetorical manner, the Panel which had to grapple with the problem of finding the correct answer. 2 Page | 2 How elusive the truth can be was demonstrated by the fact that the search for it was attended with some difficulty. It certainly was no easy task given the stark reality that the event being inquired into happened in the sixteenth century. But the job had to be done. The Panel had to go back in time. To attain its objective, it was constrained to rely on whatever evidence the contending parties had presented as the sole means by which the truth respecting the matter in issue was to be ascertained. A rigorous appraisal of the evidence thus presented was conducted so as to determine its probative value. More specifically, the Panel had to determine whether the evidence before it would tend to support rationally whatever conclusion it may ultimately reach.
Inevitably, the Panel had to place heavy reliance on primary sources made available to it which embody eyewitness accounts that present themselves as a heroic attempt to record and chronicles faithfully and memorialize the historical event under scrutiny. In the perception of the Panel, these accounts are appreciable as best evidence that afford adequate support to its findings and conclusions. As such, they afford the greatest certainty of the fact in issue. In order to ensure comprehensiveness, secondary sources were likewise looked into by the Panel but being inferior or substitutionary, these did not carry much weight for evidentiary purposes.
By a process of juxtaposition, after having finely combed the available materials relevant to the factual issue, the Panel easily found the evidence culled from the primary sources as distinguished by a greater probative force and the proof gleaned therefrom as overwhelming and preponderant. On the other hand, the secondary sources yielded evidence that for the most part was hearsay, if not secondhand, in character and, hence, inferior in probative quality. It is noteworthy that both the pro-Limasawa and pro-Masao groups availed themselves of primary and secondary sources in substantiating their respective positions on the matter in issue. The labor at research embarked upon in that direction was commendable. Quite impressive, too, was the effort that each group needed to engage in with remarkable vigor and enthusiasm towards a convincing presentation of its claim. The effort was, to be sure, its own satisfaction.
There was, expectedly, a wide divergence in the groups’ interpretation of the relevant contents of the same materials that they had gathered, each interpretation designed to suit their respective purposes. Given the varied persuasions that influenced the thinking of each group, a clash of wills, even personalities, was inevitable. Such diversity and conflict necessarily triggered a not too negligible amount of confusion in the projected re-writing of that chapter in Philippine history recounting the celebration of the first Christian mass on Philippine soil in the year 1521.
What remains is for the Panel to settle the controversy decisively. Realizing the tremendousness of its role and responsibility as an arbiter of sorts, it hopes to write finis to this controversy regarding a historical detail that has over the years engendered uncertainty and doubt in the minds of the Filipino people. This sort of undertaking is thus a recognition of its own necessity, a necessity that cannot be overstressed. It is an engagement that has in more ways than one proven to be profoundly rewarding. Entailing as it does a journey back to the distant past, the exercise poses a formidable challenge to the Panel in its search for truth. In response to this challenge, the Resolution that follows will now be essayed.
I. THE CONTROVERSY As recounted by Pigafetta in his chronicle of Magellan’s expedition into the Philippine Islands starting March 16, 1521, the first Christian mass offered on Philippine soil was celebrated in an island which he called “Mazaua”. The precise identity and location of this venue of the first mass became the subject of writings of historians and scholars whose differing interpretations of Pigafetta’s account would eventually spawn a full-blown controversy that would split concerned segments of the citizenry into two contending groups.
For three centuries—from the 17th to the 19th—it was the prevailing belief that Pigafetta’s “Mazaua” was a place called Masao near Butuan City in Northern Mindanao. This tradition started in the middle of the 17th century with the publication in Madrid in 1663 of Fr. Francisco Colin’s Labor evangelica which contained an account of Magellan’s arrival in Philippine shores in 1521, including a disclosure that the first mass was celebrated and a cross was planted in Butuan on Easter Day of that year. Four years after Colin’s work had been published, Fr. Francisco Combes, nother Jesuit priest-historian like Fr. Colin, wrote Historia de Mindanao y Jolo which was printed in Madrid in 1667 and which also contained an account of Magellan’s voyage. While Combes’s account actually made no reference to the first mass, it made mention of the planting of the cross in Butuan.
The so-called Butuan tradition persisted throughout the 18th century as triggered by the publication in Manila, circa the late 1700’s, of the 14-volume History of the Philippines authored by the Augustinian fray, Juan de la Concepcion, whose account therein of Magellan’s expedition mentions the celebration of the first Christian mass on Philippine soil in Butuan.
The 19th century saw the Butuan tradition being upheld by another Augustinian, fray Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga who wrote History de Filipinas, which was published in 1803, and another work where he described his travels around the Philippine Islands. This latter writing remained in manuscript form for nearly a century until it came out in a 2-volume edition by Wenceslao Retana in 1893. In it, fray Joaquin de Zuñiga recounted the celebration of the first mass in Philippine territory on Easter Sunday of 1521 in Butuan.
Towards the end of the 19th century, John Foreman’s The Philippine Islands mentioned the first mass as having been celebrated in Butuan. At about the same time, Jose Montero y Vidal’s El archipelago Filipino and Historia general de Filipinas were echoing the Butuan tradition.
In the year 1894, a manuscript of Pigafetta’s account of Magellan’s voyage—the Ambrosian codex in Milan—was published in its Italian text. This work, as written by Pigafetta himself, was finally made available to scholars among whom was James Alexander Robertson, an American, who translated into English the printed text of the original manuscript of Pigafetta’s account, the Ambrosian codex. (It appears that, as disclosed by Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, S.J., a respected an eminent author, the only versions of Pigafetta’s account available to previous scholars were “summaries and garbled translation”.) The said English translation of Robertson was eventually incorporated in his 55-volume The Philippine Islands, particularly volumes 33 and 34, which he co-authored with another American, Emma Blair, and which was published from 1903 and 1909.
Shortly after the publication in 1894 of the original text of Pigafetta’s account, two Philippine scholars asserted that the so-called Butuan tradition was a mistake for being unsupported by eyewitness accounts of Magellan’s voyage. One of these scholars was Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera who on March 31, 1895, in an article written for a Manila newspaper, categorically declared that “Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth, because not only was Butuan not the piece of Philippine soil on which the first mass was celebrated but it was not even visited by that bold navigator [Magellan] in his memorable expedition.” The other scholar was Fr. Pablo Pastells who prepared a new edition of Fr. Colin’s Labor evangelica which was published in 1903 and which also contained a correction of the Butuan tradition, particularly Colin’s assertion that the first mass was celebrated in Butuan, with the revelation in a footnote that “Magellan did not go to Butuan. Rather, from the island of Limasawa he proceeded directly to Cebu. In that island he had dealings with Rajah Siagu, chieftain of Butuan; and this would explain the author’s (i.e., Colin’s) error. See the ‘Voyage’ of Pigafetta and the diary of Albo, both of whom were eyewitnesses.”
The discovery of the original manuscript (Ambrosian codex) of Pigafetta’s eyewitness account of Magellan’s voyage, its English translation by Robertson, and the corrections made by Pardo de Tavera and Pastells of Colin’s assertion regarding the first mass all contributed to a shift in the belief as to the site of said historical event, i.e., from Butuan to Limasawa. The Limasawa claim has been generally accepted since the onset of the 20th century. This notwithstanding, a certain group composed mostly of Butuanons has vigorously maintained and adhered tenaciously to the Butuan tradition, specifically contending that the first Christian mass on Philippine soil was celebrated in Masao, Butuan, not in Limasawa. In the wake of these conflicting claims, a full-blown controversy on the matter ensued. Protagonists of the controversy respectively advocate the Butuan and Limasawa traditions. Congress came into the picture when in 1960 it enacted Republic Act No. 2733 to “Declare the site in Magallanes, Limasawa Island in the province of Leyte, where the first mass in the Philippines was held as a national shrine.” Thus, by legislative fiat, Limasawa has been institutionalized as the venue of the first Christian mass on Philippine soil. Unfazed by this development, the pro-Masao group initiated the filing of a bill in Congress in 1995, through Rep. Charito Plaza of Butuan, to “Declare the site in Masao, Butuan City as the place where the first Easter mass in the Philippines was held,” thereby exacerbating the controversy. This bills was obviously an attempt to repeal R.A. 2733 but has remained unacted upon to this day.
The main aspects of the controversy revolve around the questions as to identity (landform), latitude (location), distances (route), and anchorage. In May, 1996, the National Historical Institute (NHI) created a Panel “to hear the presentation of evidence pertaining whether or not the First Mass was held in Masao, Butuan or in Limasawa, Leyte” with a view to assisting the Institute “to resolve a very sensitive historical issue facing our country and our people.” Composing the Panel are retired Supreme Court Justice Emilio A. Gancayco, as Chairman, and Atty. Bartolome C. Fernandez, Jr. and Dr. Ma. Luisa T. Camagay, as Members. The only issue to be addressed by the Panel is whether Pigafetta’s “Mazaua” was Masao, Butuan City or Limasawa, Leyte. During the hearings held by the Panel from June 7 to 11, 1996 at the NHI Board Room, the Butuan side (pro-Masaoans) and the Limasawa side (pro-Limasawans) presented oral and documentary evidence in support of their respective claims. Even after the termination of said hearings, both groups submitted to the Panel additional documents, which now form part of the records, to buttress their respective contentions.
II. EVALUATION OF THE EVIDENCE A. Sources: Primary and Secondary An accepted method of historiography involves the use of primary sources which are regarded as the best authority for a historical fact. Secondary sources are of a lesser category. Evidently then, primary sources enjoy preeminence over secondary sources.
The primary sources made available to the Panel consisted of Pigafetta’s chronicle and Albo’s log book which embodied eyewitness accounts of Magellan’s voyage. The other sources, consisting basically of Colin’s and Combes’s writings and those of other historians after them, are the best secondary in character for being secondhand or at times hearsay. The pro-Limasawans utilized and relied heavily on the primary sources just mentioned, particularly Pigafetta’s account as translated into English by Robertson which was considered as the most reliable source. On the other hand, the pro-Masaoans also made use of Pigafetta’s account and Albo’s log book, together with other alleged primary sources, particularly regarding the question of latitude, such as the Report of Antonio de Brito and the Roteiro of an anonymous pilot as well as the account of Gines de Mafra.
B. Pigafetta’s Account Historians agree that the most complete and reliable account of Magellan’s expedition into Philippine shores in 1521 is that of Antonio Pigafetta entitled Primo viaggio intorno al mondo (First Voyage Around the World). Pigafetta, a member of the expedition, was its official chronicler and, hence, an eyewitness of the events that he narrated in his diary. The following passages are excerpts from that portion of his account, as translated into English by Robertson from the original manuscript (Ambrosian codex), recounting the arrival of Magellan’s flotilla in Homonhon island, and its route to Mazaua and finally Cebu from Mazaua. (Appendix A) (Appendix A consisted of pp. 108-137 of Vol. 33 of Blair and Robertson, exactly 14 pages of photocopied materials, longer than the “Resolution” itself. VCJ)
Robertson’s translation into English of Pigafetta’s account has been certified by the Department of European Languages of the University of the Philippines as “faithful” to the original text of the manuscript in Italian. (Appendix B) (Appendix B is a 1-paragraph certification dated February 23, 1998 by Emmanuel Luis Romanillos, Professor of Italian, Dept. of European Languages, College of Arts and Letters, U.P. (In the entire Magellanic literature no doubt has ever been raised about Robertson’s translation, so Romanillo’s certification is gratuitous if not irrelevant and coming from someone who has no credentials in Magellan historiography. Martin Torodash back in 1971 hailed it as “one of the triumphs of American scholarship, the translation by Robertson.” VCJ)
As earlier seen, the original manuscript of Pigafetta’s account (Ambrosian text) was not available during the time of Fr. Colin and his successors. What was available then was an abridged French translation which was “put back into an Italian version” known as the Fabre/Ramusio (sic) text. Colin and the historians after him, all pro-Butuan authors, used what appeared to be a “garbled” translation of Fabre/Ramusio. It now appears that the so-called Butuan tradition has been basically influenced by such a garbled edition of a primary source.
C. Question of Identity (Landform) As narrated by Pigafetta in his account, supra, “On Thursday morning, March twenty-eight, as we had seen a fire on an island the night before, we anchored near it. x x x Next day, holy Friday, the captain-general sent his slave, who acted as our interpreter, ashore in a small boat to ask the king if he had any food to have it carried to the ships; and to say that they would be well satisfied with us, for he (and his men) had come to the island as friends and not as enemies.” (emphasis supplied) Later in his diary, Pigafetta called the island where Magellan and his men landed to offer mass and where they remained for seven days as “Mazaua”. Pigafetta was thus emphatic that the mass was offered by Magellan and celebrated on an island.
The pro-Limasawans make such capital of this identification by Pigafetta of Mazaua as an island. As Fr. Peter Schreurs, MSC, put it, “Pigafetta knew an island when he saw one.” Even the pro-Masaoans concede that Pigafetta’s Mazaua was referred to as an island. All the other sources, primary and secondary, uniformly and consistently refer to Mazaua as an island. (Albo’s reference is a “small island called Mazaua.”. Also, de Brito and ‘Roteiro’ call Mazaua an island.)
The Panel takes official cognizance of the geographical fact that Limasawa is an island south of Leyte and north of Butuan, while Masao is not an island but is, at best, a riverine delta near Butuan.
In actuality, Masao as an identifiable land area was nowhere mentioned in the writings on Magellan’s voyage in 1521. The distinct possibility is that Masao was not yet a geographical entity at the time of Magellan’s arrival into Philippine shores. It was Butuan that was invariably mentioned and referred to. As a place on the map of the Philippines, Masao is of a much later vintage “present-day Masao” as identified by the pro-Masaoans) being just a seaside barangay and part of Butuan City situated on the beach at the mouth (delta) of the Agusan River along the coast on the northern part of Mindanao. On this point, Fr. Miguel Bernad, S.J., pithily observes that “If ‘Mazaua’ were Butuan, or in the vicinity of Butuan, there is a curious omission in Pigafetta’s account which would be difficult to explain. Butuan is a riverine settlement. If is situated on the Agusan River. The beach called Masao is in the delta of that river. If the Magellan expedition were at that delta, and if the Mass were celebrated there, why is there no mention of the river! x x x The fact that there is no mention of the river is a significant fact in Pigafetta’s account of their seven-day stay at ‘Mazaua’. We must therefore take him literally: Mazaua was an island surrounded by sea, not a river delta.” Indeed, there is nothing about any river at Mazaua in the Pigafetta account.
To illustrate that part of his narrative where he mentions certain islands that Magellan’s expedition touched at or passed by, Pigafetta drew sketches (maps) of these islands which showed their relative positions and sizes. These maps formed an integral part of his manuscript and yield cartographic evidence of a primary character of the identity of Mazaua. On one of them, Pigafetta shows Mazaua, which is spelled “Mazzana” in the map, as an island surrounded by sea water, set apart from the rest of the islands, and lying south of Leyte (Ceilon in the map) near the passage between Bohol and the western coast of Leyte (Appendix C). (Appendix C is the stark black and white map in Robertson’s book where Mazaua is shown at the upper right-hand corner. VCJ) Another map of Pigafetta containing a sketch of Mindanao does not indicate “Mazaua” as part of Mindanao (Appendix C-1)(Appendix C-1 is the map of Mindanao, a stark black and white rendition in Robertson’s book where Butuan is shown. VCJ) It shows Butuan, spelled “Butuam” (This is a distortion of the Robertson map. The original from which it is derived correctly spells it “Butuan”. VCJ) in the map, as the place situated inside Mindanao near its northern shore apart and distinct from Mazaua island. The position of Mazaua as thus plotted in Pigafetta’s map (outside Mindanao) practically tallies with and is much closer to the actual position of Limasawa island which is north of Mindanao and south of Leyte.
Verily, these charts of Pigafetta say it all, as it were. The observation of Demy P. Sonza in his article “Limasawa: Cradle of Christianity” is quite apt, thus: x x x the charts (of Pigafetta) definitely and unmistakably show that the island of Mazaua, where the first Christian mass was held, is located near Leyte and Bohol. Mazaua’s location, relative to the nearby islands, puts it right on the very spot where Limasawa is located. Mazaua, therefore, is Limasawa. If Mazaua were Masao, Butuan City, Pigafetta would have placed it in the same chart with Mindanao and Jolo, where he indicated the position of Butuan and Calagam (Surigao). Because Pigafetta did not put Mazaua together with Butuan and Calagan, Mazaua could not be Masao. x x x It is important to note that Pigafetta located Butuan and Calagan on the same island where he located Chippit, Maingdanao, and Subanin. It is unmistakable that this island is Mindanao. If Mazaua was an island near Butuan, as the proponents for Masao claim, then Pigafetta would have put it there in his charts and would have indicated that the fleet had gone there.” Add to this Peter Schreurs’ revelation about Magellan’s fleet being able to “ ‘move their ships to the other side of the island (i.e., Mazaua)’ as Pigafetta tells us. At Limasawa there was no problem at all doing this in one afternoon, unlike at Masao, Butuan where ‘the other side of the island (of Mindanao)’ would have meant Zamboanga.” (Schreurs deliberately tampers with his material here. What Pigafetta said was, “In the afternoon we went in the ships [and anchored] near the dwellings of the king.” Schreurs sought to make this sentence mean the fleet circumnavigated around Mazaua. VCJ) It is significant that, as disclosed by Fr. Schreurs, “practically all subsequent 16th century (Portuguese and Spanish) cartographers depicting Mindanao x x x show us a Butuan that is on Mindanao and Mazaua/Masaba/Macagua etc. that is north of Mindanao, separate, and all around in the water like a good island should be.” In simple terms, as plotted by Pigafetta, Mazaua and Butuan are located on two distinct islands (Limasawa and Mindanao, respectively) with a considerable amount of seawater between them, not just rivers or creeks as found in the riverine delta of Masao, Butuan.
Regarding Pigafetta’s map showing “Benasam, (sic) Calagam, Butuan, Maingdanao, and Cippit” inside Mindanao, without mentioning Mazaua, Celedonio Resurreccion, a pro-Masao presentor, makes a strange explanation bordering on pure conjecture, thus: “That Mazaua is not indicated on the map simply means that it has been absorbed by Butuan, the much larger geographical entity.” As to how and when this happened, if at all, Resurreccion does not say. Nor does he provide any enlightenment as to why, if Mazaua was indeed “absorbed” by Butuan, it (Mazaua) was invariably mentioned and identified in Pigafetta’s account (also, Albo’s, et al) as a separate and distinct geographical entity and, therefore, with a separate existence. If Mazaua was thus absorbed, it would have been swallowed up or sucked in by Butuan and would not have remained en esse anymore at that time and would not have been identified by Pigafetta, et al. as an “island” with a place-name and an individuality of its own. It should have been “Butuan” from start to finish which never happened.
Curiously enough, Resurreccion is silent regarding the other map of Pigafetta which shows “Mazzana” (Mazaua) as a separate island south of Leyte and north of Mindanao. Being outside Mindanao, it is grievous error for Resurreccion to assert that Mazaua was “absorbed” by Butuan which is inside Mindanao. What is more, this geographical reality of Mazaua being outside Mindanao would collide with and be at war with Resurreccion’s insistence, based on an alleged English translation of Pigafetta’s Amoretti-Ambrosiana manuscript, that Mazaua borders or is bounded by Chippit which belongs to the same land as Butuan and Calaghan. Worse still, such insistence would contradict Resurreccion’s own thesis about Mazaua having been “absorbed” by Butuan. For, how could Mazaua, supposedly absorbed by and consequently integrated in the territory of Butuan, still “border” Chippit? Besides, Pigafetta’s map of northern Mindanao showing “Butuam” (Butuan) and “Chippit” is shown on the northeast almost bordering the Pacific Ocean, while “Chippit” is shown on northwestern Mindanao in the region of present-day Misamis Occidental and Dapitan. Thus, there is quite a distance between “Butuam” and “Chippit”. How is it possible then for Mazaua to border Chippit and at the same time to be absorbed by Butuan? Additionally, even assuming arguendo that Chippit is bounded by Mazaua, it should follow that Mazaua exists as a separate and distinct geographical entity and could not have been absorbed by Butuan.
D. Question Of Latitude (Location) The original Italian manuscript of Pigafetta’s account delineated the location of Mazaua imprecisely at a latitude of “noue gradi et dui tersi”. Robertson’s English translation which the pro-Limasawa group adopts, reads thus: It (Mazaua) lies in a latitude of nine and two-thirds degrees toward the Arctic Pole, and in a longitude of one hundred and sixty-two degrees from the line of demarcation.” The pro-Masaoans contend that Robertson’s interpretation is a “mistranslation”. They claim that the correct translation is “nine degrees and two-thirds minute”. They point out that Pigafetta’s intent with the fraction of 2/3 is to treat it as “minute” and not degree, from whence it is argued that Pigafetta never intended to plot out a latitude of “nine and two-thirds degrees” for Mazaua.
By way of buttressing such assumption, Celedonio Resurreccion (a pro-Masaoan) resorts to that canon of statutory construction which states the rule of “noscitur a sociis” (associated words, i.e., one is known by his or its companions). Then, citing as an example a simple isolated expression “the ship traveled fifty miles and a half”, Resurreccion concludes that since the fraction one-half is found in the company of miles, it must be construed as “one-half of a mile”. This is arguing against himself. Precisely, if applied to Pigafetta’s “noue gradi et dui tersi”, which literally reads “nine degrees and two-thirds”, then the fraction “two-thirds” being found in the company of “degrees” must be construed as “two-thirds of a degree”. Hence, Robertson’s translation that reads “nine and two-thirds degrees” adheres faithfully to Resurreccion’s noscitur a sociis thesis. (This is akin to the other rule of “ejusdim generic”, or “of the same kind or class”, whereby 2/3 fraction should be deemed as belonging to the same category of “degrees”.)
The pro-Masaoans, however, proceed to assume that the 2/3 fraction in Pigafetta’s latitude for Mazaua should be treated as “minute”, and that, therefore, as earlier pointed out, the correct latitude reading of Mazaua is “nine degrees and twothird minute”. The Panel is not persuaded. This assumption is, at best, gratuitous and cannot be accepted. Nowhere in Pigafetta’s account is “minute” indicated as part of the latitude of Mazaua. The pro-Masaoans would thus read into Pigafetta’s account something that was not meant to be there. If, indeed, Pigafetta meant or intended “minutes” for the 2/3 fraction, he could have easily said so. But he did not. As Jose Caburian (a pro-Limasawa presentor) who, being an engineer, knows whereof he speaks, point out, “During the clear night skies in their seven day stay in Mazaua the mariners of Magellan measured the altitude in degrees of the star Polaris from the horizon using the astrolabe and a cross staff. The altitude of the pole star is the latitude of their anchorage. x x x Masao proponents say that the latitude mentioned by Pigafetta is nine and two-thirds minute to suit the latitude of Masao. This is absurd because the astrolabe and cross staff could not be calibrated in minutes of arc.” In other words, “The cross staff had only graduations in degrees, not minutes. x x x. (It is) graduated in degrees which are very close to each other and it is impossible to inset 60 graduations between each degree to represent minutes. Only in precision instruments like the mariner sextant (invented in 1628) or a surveyor transit can minutes be read using a vernier attachment.”
Caburian proceeded to say that, “An accurate map shows Limasawa has a latitude of 9 degrees and 54 minutes or 9.9 degrees north latitude and is only 0.23 degree off from the latitude of Mazaua which is nine and two-thirds degrees (9.67 degrees) allowing for slight error. On the other hand, Masao has a latitude of 9.01 degrees, a difference of 0.66 degree (or approximately two-thirds degree) from the latitude of Mazaua. Thus, the latitude of Mazaua is closer to that of Limasawa Island than that of Masao, Butuan.” Parenthetically, while it may be true, as alleged by the pro-Masaoans, that there is no island found exactly at latitude 9 degrees and 40 minutes N, which is the equivalent of Mazaua’s latitude as translated by Robertson, such latitude is closer to and approximates Limasawa which is 9 degrees and 55 minutes N than to Masao, Butuan which is 9 degrees and 00 minutes N (according to a Philippine Gazetteer).
At this juncture, a word of caution is in order. Admittedly, the navigational instruments used by Magellan’s men at that time were primitive and, hence, not accurate then that the delineation of distances and plotting of positions and location made by Pigafetta, Albo, et al. might well have been inaccurate or imprecise, or that Pigafetta, et al. were not beyond erring in giving latitudes. At best, these delineations should be taken as mere estimates or approximations.
E. Questions of Distances (Route) For purposes of this Resolution, Magellan’s voyage under scrutiny may well be divided into two segments, i.e., from Homonhon to Mazaua and Mazaua to Cebu. Homonhon-Mazaua route As narrated by Pigafetta in his account, “That same day (i.e., Monday, March 25, 1521) we shaped our course (from Homonhon) toward the west southwest between four small islands, namely, Cenalo, Hiunanghan, Ibusson, and Abarien. On Thursday morning, March twenty-eight, as we had seen a fire on an island the night before, we anchored near it. x x x It is twenty-five from the Acquada and is called Mazaua.” (It is noted that Pigafetta wrote “twenty-five” but it is universally accepted that he meant “twenty-five leguas”.) “Cenalo” corresponds to Leyte; “Hiunanghan” to Hinunangan which is actually part of the Leyte mainland; and “Ibusson” to Hibuson which is east of the southern tip of Leyte.
Albo’s log book recounts Magellan’s route from Homonhon to Mazaua as follows: “We departed (from Homonhon) and west toward the west in order to strike a large island called Ceilani (i.e., Leyte) which is inhabited and has gold in it. We coasted along it and took a course to the west-southwest in order to strike a small island which is inhabited and called Mazaua.” So, Pigafetta’s account of the route taken by Magellan’s fleet from Homonhon to Mazaua coincides substantially and in most detail with Albo’s own account of the same route.
In other words, Magellan’s flotilla left Homonhon, which lies to the right (east) of “Zamal” (Samar), by sailing westwards towards Leyte, then followed the Leyte coast southward, and upon reaching the southern tip of Leyte turned westward (sic) to Mazaua where the previous night they had seen a light.
While acknowledging that the distance between Homonhon and Mazaua is 25 leagues, as located by Pigafetta, the pro-Masaoans, thru Vicente C. de Jesus, define the distance from Homonhon to Limasawa as only 16.09 leagues, while that from Homonhon to Masao (Butuan) is 24.54 leagues. On the part of Celedonio Resurreccion, after posing the question as to whether the 25 leguas between Homonhon and Mazaua, as plotted by Pigafetta, is the distance between Homonhon and Limasawa or between Homonhon and Masao, he proceeds thus: “We approach the solution to this problem by taking the differences in latitude between Homonhon and Limasawa on one hand and that between Homonhon and Masao on the other hand. Then the two distances are compared to 25 leguas in terms of degrees and minutes. Whichever of the two distances, or latitudinal differences, is equal to, or approximates the equivalent of 25 leguas, gives the answer.” Then, availing himself of the Spanish conversion of 17.5 leguas to a degree, Resurreccion reaches the conclusion that, “The Humunu-Mazaua distance of 25 leguas given by Pigafetta is equivalent to 1 deg. 26 min., which matches closely the Homonhon-Masao distance of 1 deg. 45 min., rather than the Homonhon-Limasawa distance of only 50 min.”
On the other hand, Engineer Jose G. Caburian, during one of the hearings held by the Panel, testified under oath for the pro-Limasawa group that the distance from Homonhon to Masao was 35 leagues. More specifically, Caburian observes: “Earlier Pigafetta wrote that ’24 leagues is equal to 100 miles or 160.9 kilometers’, so one league is equal to 6.7 kms”; and, “From an accurate map, the sea distance from the eastern side of Homonhon going west southwest to skirt the eastern coasts of Leyte and Panaon islands and then to Limasawa is 167 kms.; divided by 6.7 kms. It is 24.9 leagues and checks well with the Homonhon-Mazaua distance of 25 leagues.” Continuing, Caburian emphasized that, “If Magellan had proceeded instead to Masao x x x, their sea voyage would have been longer. Actual distance measured from a map is 236 kilometers or 35.2 leagues (10 leagues longer than Pigafetta’s 25 leagues). Masao is 109 kilometers south southeast of Limasawa or 16.26 leagues.” The Panel accepts this finding of Caburian who, being an engineer, enjoys more credibility.
In light of Pigafetta’s account, it is perfectly reasonable and logical to assume that Magellan’s fleet did not, as it could not, navigate the seawater from Homonhon to Mazaua in a straight line. As earlier seen, Pigafetta recounts that the fleet sailed from Homonhon “toward the west southwest between four small islands, namely, Cenalo, Hiunanghan, Ibusson, and Abarien.” Evidently, the fleet was island-hopping or hand to criss-cross these four islands while passing thru (“between”) them in order to ascertain their identities (names). Additionally, according to Pigafetta himself, the trip from Homonhon to Mazaua took the fleet four days, i.e., from March 25 (holy Monday) to March 28 (Maundy Thursday), 1521. Hence, the 25-league distance from Homonhon to Mazaua as plotted by Pigafetta is credible.
It is worth noticing that both the accounts of Pigafetta and Albo identify Mazaua as the southernmost point reached by Magellan’s fleet before sailing for Cebu. There is no mention at all of the fleet having gone to or touched at Butuan or any other part of Mindanao on its way to Cebu from Homonhon.
On this point, Dr. Isagani R. Medina, retired history professor (one of the pro-Limasawa presentors), declared under oath during one of the Panel’s hearings that the route taken by Magellan from Homonhon to Mazaua did not touch any point in Mindanao; that Magellan actually never set foot on Butuan; and that all places touched by his fleet on the way to Mazaua from Homonhon and identified by Pigafetta pertains to Leyte. This testimony has factual basis as gleaned from the primary sources and is more persuasive. Pigafetta’s account, for one, never mentions anything about Magellan’s fleet having gone farther down to Butuan which, as indicated on one of his (Pigafetta’s) maps, is situated inside Mindanao, separate and apart from Mazaua.
The pro-Masaoans, however, express the belief that Magellan actually did sail south to Butuan (bypassing Limasawa) in order to avoid a “storm”. This belief is easily demolished by a simple reference to Pigafetta’s account which contains no mention whatsoever of any such leg of Magellan’s route that brought the latter to Butuan farther down south towards the northern part of Mindanao. Nor was there any mention in his account of a “storm” that would divert Magellan’s fleet to Mindanao. Nothing of the sort could be found anywhere in Pigafetta’s account. Thus, unsupported by any competent historical evidence, this assumption about the “storm” ought to be dismissed outright as, at best, gratuitous.
Regarding this alleged “storm”, the following statement of Celedonio Resurreccion is interesting: “What must have happened with great probability was that in an effort to escape from the vortex of the typhoon which revolved counterclockwise, and from the strong current, Magellan brought his fleet coasting along Surigao. Noticing the long coastal line and the rows of mountains, his curiosity was aroused and he kept on sailing south. x x x. He was, we surmise, in a hurry to reach Butuan and find fulfillment of his dreams of circumnavigating the world. He must have been told by Enrique, his slave, that the scenes were familiar to him, that yonder to the south was his homeland.” Such a narration is obviously the product of imagination, pure and simple conjecture, surmise and guesswork, with nothing in Pigafetta’s account to support it. Hence, it is utterly undeserving of any credence.
Mazaua-Cebu Route Pigafetta’s narrative of Magellan’s voyage from Mazaua to Cebu recounts that “We remained there (i.e., Mazaua) seven days, after which we laid our course toward the northwest, passing among five islands, namely, Ceylon, Bohol, Canighan, Baybai, and Gatighan. x x x. There is a distance of twenty leguas from Mazaua to Gatighan. We set out westward from Gatighan, x x. Thus did we go to Zubu from Gatighan, the distance to Zubu being fifteen leguas.” Albo’s account relates that Magellan’s fleet “left Masava and went north towards the island of Seilani (Leyte) thereafter sailed along the coast of the island to the northwest until 20 degrees latitude.”
As plotted by knowledgeable historians from an accurate map, Ceylon and Baybai were actually parts of Leyte, while Canighan lies off southwestern tip of Leyte. Then, it appears that Magellan’s route from Mazaua followed a west by northwest direction into the Canigao (“Canighan”) channel between Bohol and Leyte, then northwards along the Leyte coast to “Gatighan” which was 20 leagues from Mazaua and 15 leagues from Zubu. And, from Gatighan, the fleet sailed westward to the three islands of the Camotes group (“Polo”, “Ticobon”, and “Pozon”) where the ships stopped momentarily to allow the king of Mazaua, their guide, to catch up with them. And, finally, from the Camotes Islands, the fleet sailed southwestward towards Cebu.
It bears stress that both Pigafetta’s and Albo’s accounts substantially indicate almost the same direction followed by Magellan’s fleet when it sailed from Mazaua to Cebu, i.e., north or northwest towards Leyte island. Such a route is possible only from Limasawa, which lies just off the southern tip of Leyte, not from Butuan which lies farther down in Mindanao towards the south southeast of Limasawa.
The position paper for the pro-Masaoans has this to say, however: “According to Pigafetta the distance of Mazaua and Cebu was 35 leagues (169 miles). If the fleet came from Limasawa, it would travel only 80 miles, only half the actual distance traveled. The route from Mazaua to Cebu taken by Magellan is almost exactly the one now taken by interisland vessels from Butuan to Cebu. On the other hand, there is no sea traffic from Limasawa to Cebu, then or now.” Furthermore, Celedonio Resurreccion cites the alleged expert testimony of Maritime Captain Epafrodito Flores who made the observation that “the route taken by Magellan from Mazaua to Cebu is the same route that modern commercial vessels take from Masao Port in Butuan in going to Cebu; and the sailing distance of these modern vessels is exactly the same as that given by Pigafetta, that is, twenty leguas for the Masao-Catighan route, and fifteen leguas for Catighan-Cebu.”
The Panel is not persuaded by this pro-Masaoan analysis which does not inspire rational belief. Truly, there can be no basis to compare the “sea traffic from Limasawa to Cebu” at the present time (“now”) with the navigational route taken by Magellan from Mazaua (Limasawa) to Cebu (“then”) which are more than four centuries apart. The Panel finds Caburian’s counter observation to be more credible, thus: “Pigafetta also wrote that when they left Mazaua, they reached Gatighan (north of Baybay, Leyte) 20 leagues away and from there they sailed to Zubu (Cebu) 15 leagues away. These sea distances to Gatighan would have been 40 leagues.” Caburian emphasized that, “The sea distance from Limasawa to Gatighan is 132 kms. Or 19.7 leagues (checks well with 20 leagues). If they had started from Masao the distance to Gatighan would have been 225 kms. Or 33.6 leagues.” Still on the Mazaua-Cebu route, Celedonio Resurreccion asserts that, “On the way to Cebu, Magellan dropped by Gatighan island, twenty leguas from Mazaua.”
Up to this point, Resurreccion is accurate as he is faithful to Pigafetta’s account. But proceeding, he lapses into inaccuracies and illogical assumptions, thus: “Gatighan is beyond identification today. A convenient substitute in the neighborhood is Canigao Island (sic), a fair 18.56 leguas from Masao, Butuan. Had Magellan started from Limasawa, the Limasawa-Gatighan (Canigao) would have been a mere 6.39 leguas, which is 13.61 leguas or 68 percent off. Thus, Limasawa could not be the starting point of the route to Gatighan and, consequently, Mazaua could not be Limasawa.”
While the identity of Gatighan is uncertain, Pigafetta locates it at 20 leagues from Mazaua and 15 leagues from Cebu. It cannot be equated with or the equivalent of the present-day “Canigao Island” lying off the southeastern tip of Leyte (as seen on a map produced by Vicente de Jesus) which, logically, should be identified with, as it is closer in sound to Pigafetta’s “Canighan” and mentioned separately from “Gatighan”. In other words, Pigafetta visualized “Canighan” and “Gatighan” as two separate, apart and distinct “islands”, with “Gatighan”, which he mentions last in naming and identifying the five islands situated along the route to Cebu from Mazaua, being situated farther up north beyond “Baybai” (present-day Baybay) along the western coast of Leyte as the jump-off point to Cebu.
In any event, another word of caveat. There is reason to assume that precisely because Magellan was a first-timer visitor of the Philippine Islands at that time, it is expected that he would not be instantly familiar with the actual navigational situation of Philippine waters. Hence, the distances traveled by his fleet and even the relative positions of the islands along the route could very well have been just estimations or calculations and, therefore, imprecise. Owing to these perceived navigational inaccuracies, there can be no absolute certainty as to Pigafetta’s measurement of distances.
F. Question of Anchorage Pigafetta’s account describes how Magellan’s fleet touched at Mazaua, thus: “On Thursday morning, March twenty-eight, as we had seen a fire on an island the night before, we anchored near it. We saw a small boat which the natives call boloto with eight men in it, approaching the flagship. x x x . They came alongside the ship, unwilling to enter but taking a position at some little distance. x x x . In the afternoon we went in the ships (and anchored) near the dwellings of the king.”
The pro-Masaoans argue that the Mazaua island in which Magellan’s fleet anchored could not have been Limasawa which was surrounded by shoals and reefs. Quoting technical literature on navigation, Vicente de Jesus observes that Magellan’s ships could not have anchored in east Limasawa because “Limasawa is fringed by narrow, steep-to-reef, and the water close to the shore is too deep to afford good anchorage for large vessels.” He implies (imagines) that the whole island of Limasawa was already “hemmed in by shoals full of corals, rocks and sandbanks” in March 1521; that “only light pumpboats, 10 to 20 tons, dare to go to shore and they approach carefully (and) Magellan’s lightest ship, ‘Victoria’, 85 tons, would have been wrecked if it got near the king’s dwelling.” Celedonio Resurreccion also emphasizes that Pigafetta’s Mazaua had a good harbor and had no anchorage problem, and that “Today ocean-going vessels call at the port of Masao, Butuan. Had Magellan gone to Limasawa, he would have encountered barriers of shallow shoals, coral reefs and boulders all around that island. Limasawa is accessible only by small pumpboats maneuvering through narrow passageways among the reefs and shoals.”
Furthermore, the pro-Masaoans harp on their supposition that Masao in Butuan has a good port, and that “The case with which the Magellan ships approached Mazaua attests to the presence of a good deep sea and absence of natural barriers like shoals and coral reefs as well as forceful currents (of which Limasawa is notorious). If has been used by big ships, commercial vessels of the heavier and heaviest type, and even warships. In fact, in 1967 it was declared by law a port. On the other hand, Limasawa has always been known as almost inaccessible because it is surrounded with navigational barriers, shoals and coral reefs.” In short, they invoke the description of Masao found in the Philippine Gazetteer of 1945 that it has “very good anchorage for big ocean liners and vessels.” This may be true at the present time. It is noted that Celedonio Resurreccion, for one, speaks in the present tense. But, as earlier pointed out, Masao was not at that time an identifiable geographical entity. It was Butuan being mentioned and identified all the way from the start to finish. It stands to reason then that what the pro-Masaoans say now about the merits of Masao as a good port with very good anchorage could not be said also about Butuan’s situation in 1521. There is, in fact, nothing said anywhere in the writings then about the “port of Butuan” in Mindanao island that could provide good anchorage for Magellan’s ships. Truly, it is safe to assume that in the year 1521, more than four centuries ago, Magellan’s ships, which certainly were not the type of “big ships, heavy commercial vessels, even warships, big ocean liners” of contemporary times that the pro-Masaoans speak of, could anchor near Limasawa without much difficulty.
Indeed, in assuming that Limasawa could not have provided Magellan’s fleet with the necessary anchorage, the pro-Masaoans tend to compare the Limasawa of today with the Limasawa of yesterday during the 16th century. The Panel cannot discount the possibility of Limasawa being able then to provide the kind of anchorage necessary for Magellan’s ships. Given the reality that Magellan was a first-timer/new-comer when he sailed into Philippine shores in 1521, he could not have anticipated up front which island had adequate anchorage for ships. There is logic in assuming that he anchored his fleet in whatever island he touched at, and that island happened to be Limasawa (Mazaua) “as (because) we had seen a fire (on it) the night before.” So, it was actually the light from a fire that Magellan saw, not the better anchorage which he could not have anticipated anyway, that attracted Magellan to Limasawa.
Parenthetically, for whatever it may be worth, the Panel takes special notice, interestingly, of a passage in one of the writings of Combes (Historia de Mindanao), a source for the Butuan tradition, recounting that, “During the time when they (i.e., Magellan and his men) were resting and being well supplied at Dimasawa,(sic) they heard about the river of Butuan. Since there was a more powerful chief, what theyheard enticed our men to go there, although the venture could become either a success or a failure. x x x . Since at Butuan they did not find proper anchoring facilities for the ships, they returned to Dimasawa (sic) to deliberate further on what route to take.” (Dimasawa was the name of Colin for the stopover isle between Butuan and Cebu. Combes named it Limasawa. VCJ) This revelation about Butuan’s lack of proper anchoring facilities for Magellan’s ships at that time completely belies/negates Celedonio Resurreccion’s postulate regarding the alleged good anchorage at Masao (Butuan).
In any event, it bears stress, as pointed out by the pro-Limasawans, that Pigafetta’s account narrates that Magellan’s fleet anchored “near” Mazaua island and later “near the dwellings of the king.” The word “near”, admittedly, has a relative connotation. By itself alone, it does not indicate or even suggest any precise measurement of distance. In the context that Pigafetta used it, the word could mean any distance from the shore that would assure safe anchorage for Magellan’s ships, away from the shoals and reefs allegedly surrounding the island of Limasawa. As pointedly remarked by Demy Sonza (Limasawa: Cradle of Christianity), “To a man who had just crossed the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, a distance of three kilometers from the shore was near enough.”
Additionally, Pigafetta does not say in his account that Magellan’s ships actually went “to shore” because, as earlier stressed, they anchored “near” it and later “near the dwellings of the king.” This signifies that the ships were at a certain distance from the shore as demonstrated by Pigafetta’s narration that the natives of the island had to rise in small boats (“bolotos”) in order to approach Magellan’s flagship and returned to shore in the same boats; that, “Next day, holy Friday, the captain-general sent his slave, who acted as our interpreter, ashore in a small boat to ask the king if he had any food to have it carried to the ships”; that later, “The king came with six or eight men in the same boat and entered the ship”; that much later, Pigafetta and a companion went ashore with the king; and that the following day, “the boat came to get us”. It is thus evident that communication between Magellan’s ships and the king and his men was conducted mainly through small landing boats which plied the distance from the shore to the ship and back.
In that regard, Pigafetta does not indicate in his account in what part of Mazaua Magellan’s fleet actually anchored. All he says is that it anchored “near” the island. But the distinct likelihood is that the fleet anchored off the eastern shore of Mazaua after rounding the southern tip of Panaon island adjoining southern Leyte. As recounted by Fr. Bernad, “when his (Magellan’s) ships rounded the tip of Panaon, the wind was blowing westward from the Pacific. It was late March: in March and April in this part of the Philippines, the east wind is strong. It is what the people of Limasawa call the ‘Dumagsa’, the east wind. Sailing with the wind, Magellan’s vessels would find themselves going west or southwest, toward the island of Limasawa. Having seen a light on the island one night, they decided the following day to anchor off it.”
I. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS By way of summation, upon a rigorous evaluative analysis and appraisal of the primary sources and the evidence culled therefrom, the Panel finds and concludes that—1. The most complete and reliable account of the Magellan expedition into Philippine shores in 1521 is that of Antonio Pigafetta which is thus deemed as the only credible primary source that yields the best evidence of the celebration of the first Christian mass on Philippine soil.
2. James Robertson’s English translation of the original Italian manuscript of Pigafetta’s account is the most reliable for being “faithful” to the original text as duly certified by the U.P. Department of European Languages.
3. Pigafetta’s Mazaua, the site of the first Christian mass held on Philippine soil, is an island lying off the southwestern tip of Leyte, while Masao in Butuan is not an island but a barangay of Butuan City situated at the delta of the Agusan River along the coast of northern Mindanao.
4. The latitude and position of Mazaua, as plotted by Pigafetta, correspond Substantially to that of Limasawa.
5. The measurement of distances between Homonhon and Limasawa and between Limasawa and Cebu, as computed by the pro-Limasawa group, checks with or approximates the delineations made by Pigafetta of the distances between Homonhon and Mazaua and between Mazaua and Cebu, respectively.
6. Magellan’s fleet took a route from Homonhon to Mazaua and from Mazaua to Cebu that did not at any time touch at Butuan or any other part of Mindanao.
7. The anchoring facilities at Limasawa did not pose any problem for Magellan’s fleet which anchored “near” or at some safe distance from the Island off the eastern shore.
WHEREFORE, IT IS THE CONSIDERED VIEW OF THE PANEL THAT, UPON A PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE CULLED FROM THE PRIMARY SOURCES, THE FIRST-EVER CHRISTIAN MASS ON PHILIPPINE SOIL ON MARCH 31, 1521 WAS CELEBRATED IN THE ISLAND OF LIMASAWA SOUTH OF LEYTE.
E P I L O G U E History is both a useful and fascinating subject. As one travels through time, one is bound to find it rich in stories. Every kind of testimony is drawn upon from eyewitness accounts to statistical tables. Personal records, such as diaries, can certainly tell more than official documents.
One of the great delights of time travel is encountering the unfamiliar for that is what brings history to life. “We use history, not to tell us what happened or to explain the past, but to make the past alive so that it can explain us and make a future possible.”1 It is hoped that the insight gained from this modest exercise will bring history to life. After all, the boundary between the present and the past is always moving. It is in constant flux. “Every fact and every work exercises a fresh persuasion over every age and every new species of man. History always enunciates new truths.”2
In undertaking the task of writing finis to the controversy concerning the historied event under scrutiny, the Panel proceeded with utmost circumspection. If was actuated by the realization that like any endeavor to review the past, the exercise just concluded is calculated to illumine the present and thereby dispel the uncertainty and confusion about the actual site of the first Christian mass celebrated on Philippine soil. Foremost in the mind of the Panel is the thought that “we can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path that has led to the present.”3 That path is now conclusively established to have begun at the island of Limasawa where the first-ever Christian mass on Philippine soil was offered on March 31, 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan and his men. _________________ 1 Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind 2 Nietche,(sic) The Will To Power 3 Adlai Stevenson
Nota bene: Present in all the meetings of the Gancayco Panel were the ex-officio members: Dr. Samuel K. Tan, Chairman-Executive Director, NHI; Asst. Director Emelita V. Almosara; and Prof. Augusto V. de Viana, who was secretary of the Panel and keeps the minutes of all the Panel meetings. In all likelihood this NHI “opinion” is the work of Dr. Tan who was the only one in the panel who had written something on the issue. Outside of this opinion, no one in the panel had written anything whatsoever on Mazaua, no one has since penned even one word on the subject. In the entire organization of the National Historical Institute not one may be remotely said to be a Magellan scholar or a navigation historian. The present chair, Dr. Ambeth Ocampo, has publicly declared that whatever navigation and Magellan historians of the world may say won’t matter: it is only the NHI that can ultimately declare the truth of Mazaua. It should also be noted that my argument in brief consisted of the ff.: 1) The framework, "Where was the site of the first mass, Limasawa or Butuan?" is false and misleading because the reader is being asked to choose between an isle that has no anchorage, Limasawa, or a place that is not an island, Butuan. The entity in question is an island with an excellent port. The panel got lost somewhere because it is trying to argue against Butuan being Mazaua. In my work, I traced the idea of Butuan being the port to Gian Battista Ramusio who mistranslated sometime in 1536 the account of Pigafetta, replacing Mazaua with Butuan. The idea Mazaua is Limasawa comes from Carlo Amoretti, 1800, who had not read any primary account except the Italian Ambrosiana. Amoretti also had not read Fr. Francisco Combes, S.J., who invented the placename "Limasaua", who had not read any of the primary accounts. He read Antonio de Herrera who had a faithful story of the Mazaua incident which Combes rejected. Combes instead adopted Ramusio. Combes's Limasawa is Pigafetta's Gatighan which is fully discussed in my Wikipedia articles on Gatighan, Carlo Amoretti, and Gines de Mafra. VCJ
The Account of Ginés de Mafra
The manuscript of Ginés de Mafra was entrusted to a shipmate in the Ruy Lopez de Villalobos expedition sometime in 1546. This was edited by an unknown hand which manuscript surfaced only in the 20th century. De Mafra's account saw print in 1920. Here are the two chapters that pertain to Mazaua. This English translation of the Spanish text is by Ray Howgego, author of the massive work, Encyclopedia of Exploration:
Capitulo XI que trata de lo que mas sucedió á Magallanes partido de las islas de los ladrones.
Partió Magallanes de estas islas que pusieron nombre de ladrones, y navegando al poniente al cabo de diez dias llegó a una isla pequeña de buen parescer aunque despoblada la cual esta en doce grados de la vanda del norte y le puso nombre de la aguada , por que en ella tomó agua y leña; y otro dia luego partió de esta isla, y navegando su viage llegó a otra isla que tendrá de circuito de tres hasta cuatro leguas. Esta isla tiene un puerto bueno a la parte del poniente della, y es poblada. Surta la armada en el dicho puerto, luego los naturales del salieron á rescibir la armada con buen semblante; como Magallanes les vió, y vió que en tan pequeña tierra habia oro, por que la gente le traia, dijo a los suyos que ya estaba en la tierra que habia deseado, y mandó a un hombre que se llamaba Heredia que era escribano de la nao, que fuese en tierra con un indio que llevaban que decían que era lengua por que sabia hablar Malaya, que es lengua que todas aquellas partes es muy comun. Mas por entonces el interprete aprovechó poco por que con el deseo que el llevaba y con el buen aparejo que en la tierra y en los naturales della alló, se emborrachó con el vino que le dieron. Otro dia que era viernes de la cruz, el señor de aquella isla vino a la nao y hablo muy bien a Magallanes y a todos y hizo paces con ellos a la costumbre de la tierra, que es sangrandose del pecho ambos, echada en un vaso la sangre junta, revuelta con vino, beve cada uno la mitad. Esto aunque paresce que es cerimonia, para buena amistad algunas gentes dellos hay que no la guardan, aunque hay otros que en estremo la guardan. Con esta nueva paz tan deseada, aquel señor de aquella isla dio á la armada arroz y puercos segun su posibilidad. Este señor despues en el año de cuarente y tres le vieron los de la armada en que fué Ruy Lopez de Villalobos general, y todavia se acordaba de Magallanes y mostraba algunas cosas que el le dió.
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Capitulo XII que trata de como Magallanes llegó con su armada a la isla de Cubu y como fuébien rescibido y de los cristianos que alli hizo
Con alguna dadiva que Magallanes dió al Señor de esta isla que se llamaba Macagua cobró del tanto amor que lo llevaría a otra isla muy grande que se llama Cubu, donde era señor un pariente suyo la cual isla tenia muchos bastimentos y era muy rica y muy poblada. Magallanes holgó de ello y concertados para el dia se partió el armada para Cubu. De este Señor de Macagua, supo Magallanes que en una provincia que se llamaba Butuan que es en la isla de Mindanao que es de la parte del norte della quince leguas de Macagua había gran cantidad de oro y venian de otras partes allí a solo cargar dello con algunas mercaderias. Ya llegaba el armada cerca de la isla de Cubu por que el camino no es muy largo y es todo por entre isles. Aquí dejó el Señor de Macaguaba a Magallanes que quería adelantar en un navio de remos pequeño suyo que allí llebaba para que los de Cubu no se alterasen de su llegada, mas como las naos iban con buen viento llegaron tan presto como el. Visto por los de Cubu se armaron y con alfanges y flechas bajaron al puerto a defender a los nuestros la salida y aqui se parescio que antes desto por aquellas tierras no habian visto navios tan grandes ni de aquella guisa segun la admiracion que de los navios esta gente mostro y aunque en la China hay mayors navios que los nuestros y en los Luzones podria ser que hasta entonces no hubiesen navegado por aquellas mares, pues estando apercibidos los de Cubu para defender su Puerto llegó el Señor de Macagua y dijo tales palabras al Señor de Cubu que le aplacó y tuvo por bien venida la armada de los nuestros a su tierra aquí surgeron las naos en un buen Puerto el cual esta de la vanda del este y tiene una muy fresca playa con un hermoso palmar de cocos que por ella se estiende. Nuestra gente se regocijó aqui mucho; las muestras de la gente de la tierra fueron de mucho placer y el señor de esta…
--Vicente Calibo de Jesus 03:10, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Chapter XI, which deals with what transpired after Magellan's departure from the Ladrones islands.
Magellan left those islands to which they had given the name of Ladrones, and sailing westwards arrived after ten days at a small but uninhabited island of pleasant aspect, lying at latitude twelve degrees north, and it was named Aguada, because they took water and firewood from it. And after another day he left this island, and sailing on his way arrived at another island three or four leagues in circumference. This island has a good harbor4 on its western side, and is inhabited. He anchored the fleet in that port, then the natives came out to welcome the fleet. On seeing the natives, Magellan saw that in such a small land there was gold, because the people were wearing it. He told his men that they were now in the land he had desired, and sent a man named Heredia, who was the ship's clerk, ashore with an Indian9 they had taken, so they said, because he was known to speak Malay, the language common to those parts. But then the interpreter was of no use for the purpose for which he had been brought along and despite his good intention and in the face of the warm welcome by the place and its people, he became drunk on the wine which they gave him. On another day, which was the Friday of the cross [Good Friday], the chief of that island came to the ship and convinced Magellan and everybody else and made peace with them according to the custom of the land which is to draw blood from the chests of both men, to toss it into a glass so that the blood unites, to mix it with wine, then for both to drink a half. Although this appears to be a ceremony for long-lasting friendship, some do not keep to it, while there are others who keep to it to the last. With this new peace [he] so much desired, the chief of that island gave the fleet as much rice and pigs as he could afford. This same chief we saw in the year fifteen forty-three by those of us in the fleet of General Ruy López de Villalobos, and he still remembered Magellan and displayed to us some of the things he [Magellan] had given him.
Chapter XII, which concerns how Magellan arrived with his fleet on the island of Cubu and how he was received and of the Christians that he made there.
Because of the gift Magellan had given to the chief of this island which is called Macagua, he gained so much affection in return that he was to be accompanied to another very large island called Cubu, where the chief was his relative, and which had rich provisions and was very prosperous and thickly populated. Magellan was much pleased by this information and arranged for the fleet to depart that day for Cubu. From the chief of Macagua, Magellan learned that a province called Butuan, on the island of Mindanao, which is somewhere fifteen leagues to the north of Macagua, possessed a large quantity of gold and that people came there from other regions solely to buy gold and other merchandise. Soon he brought the fleet close to the island of Cubu, for that route is not very long and is entirely between islands. Here the chief of Macaguaba (sicéé) left Magellan as he wanted to get ahead in a boat of small oars so that the ships’ arrival should not perturb the natives of Cubu, but as the ships had a favourable wind they arrived there much ahead of the boat. Upon sight of the ships the natives of Cubu armed themselves and with cutlasses and arrows came down to the harbour to block the exits. They gave the appearance of not having previously seen in those lands ships so large, nor of that type, as manifested by the awe that this people showed for the ships, and although in China there are bigger ships than ours, and in the Luzones it could be that until then they had not navigated those seas, because the people of Cubu had prepared to defend their port, the chief of Macagua arrived and said such words to the chief of Cubu that appeased his concern over our arrival and to welcome our fleet in their land: here the ships anchored in a good harbour which lies to the east and has a very pleasant beach with a beautiful grove of coconuts at the fringes. Here our men cheered up a lot. The people in this land gave our men much pleasure and the chief of this…
English translation by Ray Howgego --Vicente Calibo de Jesus 21:13, 7 April 2008 (Taipei Standard Time)
167 books on Ginés de Mafra, his life and his account
At http://books.google.com/books?q=Gines+de+Mafra&btnG=Search+Books at least 167 books, including the published account on the Magellan expedition in Spanish, are listed. The exact page/s containing references to de Mafra is indicated.
The National Historical Institute, after it debunked de Mafra in 1998, has published at least three books that contain references to de Mafra's account. This fact however has not prodded NHI to return to the issue and correct its error or to analyze how the Gancayco Panel/NHI erred.
Up to this writing, Saturday, February 28, 2009, NHI has not seen fit to make a public retraction of its official stand. Outside of Wikipilipinas and Wikipedia, the National Historical Institute finding would have been kept totally secret. NHI keeps its historiographical method or operation outside of public view. How it arrives at a certain historical view is beyond the pale of public scrutiny. Secrecy seems to be its guiding principle. --Vicente Calibo de Jesus 01:39, 28 February 2009 (UTC)