Town to lead celebration of 500 years of First Mass

TACLOBAN CITY – Tourists who are planning to visit Limasawa in Southern Leyte still have to wait after the municipal government issued an advisory temporary closing their place except to pilgrims.
Mayor Melchor Petracorta, who signed the advisory of the Municipal Inter-Agency Task Force (MIATF) last March 19, set the guidelines for those who can enter the town which is preparing for the 500 years anniversary of the First Mass celebration on March 31.
In its advisory, the MIATF decided that no privately owned motorcycle from the mainland are allowed to enter the town from March 20 to 31 to avoid traffic due to number of government vehicles that will be going and will be used in the municipality for the celebration.
The MIATF also prohibits the entry of tourists from March 22 to 31 except for pilgrims whose names are included in the master list approved by the provincial government.
The MIATF also prohibit pump boat that has no registration from Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to transport pilgrims to and from the municipality.
“All pump boat must dock at the ports in Triana and Magallanes to ensure that those who enters the town are monitored,” Petracorta said in the advisory.
The MIATF also prohibits fishermen and owners of small pump boats to sail from noontime of March 30 until 5:00 pm of March 31. Residents are also prohibited from travelling to the mainland on said days.
However, emergency and those with valid reason are exempted from the travel ban.
On March 31, the town will celebrate along with the entire Roman Catholic community in the country and in the world the first recorded Eastern Sunday Mass in Asia when the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan set foot in the island to celebrate the mass officiated by Father Pedro de Valderama.
This year is not only momentous as it is the quincentennial year for its commemoration but also due to the recent decision released by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines last February that Limasawa was indeed the site of the First Easter Sunday Mass ending the decades long dispute of identifying its original location being contested by Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte.
The decision is also supported by the Church Historian’s Association of the Philippines (CHAP) in a statement last week March 16, released in the event of the 500 year Quincentennial Commemoration for the First Circumnavigation of the globe.
To celebrate the First Easter Sunday Mass, the Diocese of Maasin had lined up several activities starting Monday (March 22) with the Diocesan Youth Day.
From March 23 to 30, novena masses are to be held in the historic island town where 20 pilgrims from each parishes under the Diocese are allowed to join.
On the 30th, the diocese will welcome the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu image that will arrive through Hilongos port and will have a vigil at the Maasin Cathedral.
On the 31th activities includes the enshrinement of the Señor Santo Niño de Limasawa at the Triana Parish headed by the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown.
He will also lead the Eucharistic mass and will participate at the program and launching of the 500 YOC year-long activities at the Magallanes Shrine.