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Homonhon Island is an island in the province of Eastern Samar, Philippines, on the east side of Leyte Gulf. The 20-kilometre (12 mi) long island is part of the municipality of Guiuan, encompassing eight barangays: Bitaugan, Cagusu-an, Canawayon, Casuguran, Culasi, Habag, Inapulangan, and Pagbabangnan.

Montoconan, an islet just off the northwest corner of Homonhon, is also part of the approximately 7,500 islands comprising the Philippine Archipelago. The island is one of the early Pacific contact sites between the East and the West.


Magellan's First Landing

During the first Magellan-Elcano First Circumnavigation of the World, Ferdinand Magellan's three surviving vessels passed the Marianas, but did not land, even though he was out of food after crossing the Pacific Ocean. Yet, Magellan's fleet landed on the island of Homonhon on 17 March 1521 where his crew managed to gather some food despite Homonhon being uninhabited at that time. Magellan stayed here for eight days where he encountered friendly local native peoples who assisted him with the supplies of food and water to aid the crew in their voyage.

However, his fleet was detected by the boats of Rajah Kolambu of Limasawa, who guided him to Cebu, on April 7. Rajah Kolambu was an ally of the Rajah of Cebu, Rajah Humabon.

First Mass in the Philippine Soil

It remains to this day an academic discussion whether or not the first Catholic mass help on Philippine soil took place in Limasawa or in Homonhon. As per the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Rene Escalante, it could be possible that a Christian mass was conducted in Homonhon Islands prior to the one in Limasawa.


"Islands of Philippines". Island Directory. United Nations Environment Programme. (Retrieved 3 October 2017).

W.D. Brownlee (Master Mariner), 1974. The First Ships Around the World ISBN 0-8225-1204-1, p.44.

Richard Humble, The Voyage of Magellan, Franklin Watts [1988] ISBN 0-531-10638-1 p.20.

Laurence Bergreen, Over the Edge of the World : Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe HarperCollins Publishers [2003] ISBN 0-06-621173-5.

Lagarde, Roy. NHCP: Homonhon as site of ‘first Mass’ in PHL still an ‘academic discussion’.Business Mirror. (Accessed 19 February 2021).