Limasawa Island: Journey to the First Mass; Travel Guide
On March 31, 1521, an Easter Sunday, Magellan ordered a mass to be celebrated which was officiated by Father Pedro Valderrama, the Andalusion chaplain of the fleet, the only priest then. Conducted near the shores of the island, the Holy First Mass marked the birth of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines. Colambu and Siaiu were the first natives of the archipelago, which was not yet named “Philippines” until the expedition of Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in 1543, to attend the mass among other native inhabitants, together with visitors from Butuan who came with the entourage of Rajah Colambu, king of Butuan.
Planting of the cross
In the afternoon of the same day, Magellan instructed his comrades to plant a large wooden cross on the top of the hill overlooking the sea. Magellan’s chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, who recorded the event said:
“After the cross was erected in position, each of us repeated a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria, and adored the cross; and the kings [Colambu and Siaiu] did the same.”
Magellan then took ownership of the islands where he had landed in the name of King Charles V which he had named earlier on March 16 Archipelago of Saint Lazarus because it was the day of the saint when the Armada reached the archipelago.
Locals residents say that Limasawa Island got its name from a Rajah (ruler) who lived in the island has five wives,“Lima’y Asawa.”
How to get there
Take a van to Maasin City. You can choose from Duptours and Van-Vans or other shuttle services that offer trips to Maasin City via Baybay City. The fare is P200-220 and the travel time is about 3-4 hours. From Maasin terminal, take a 45-minute multicab ride to Padre Burgos port. From Padre Burgos take a 45-minute boat ride to Liamasawa Island. Make sure to get to the port on time because there are only three daily trips to the island. Lucky for us they offered additional trips to the island because we went there a day before the First’s Mass anniversary (March 30).
Where to stay
Dak Dak Beach Resort
This resort has rooms for Php 1000 per day, but you need to reserve to avail the room. If not, they have a Nipa Hut for Php 500 per night. The caretakers are very friendly and the beach is clear and has fine-grained-white sand. For more information about the resort, please visit this site.
Where to eat
In Dak Dak Beach Resort, you can arrange a pre-ordered meal for a minimal charge. In the morning, you can ask for hot water for your coffee or instant noodle cups. There are also carinderias in Limasawa
The First Mass Site
The first mass shrine is located at Barangay Magallanes.
We always thought about Cebu when we hear about Magellan’s Cross, but Magellan also commanded his men to put a Cross on top of the hill in Limasawa.
Attending the First Mass Celebration
This is a historic event and it was a great experience to attend a mass celebrating the Word of God at the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines.
Since this is a special event, the schedule going back to Padre Burgos is also special. The usual first trip going back to mainland Leyte is at 7 A.M. with limited number of boats. However today, boats will only leave right after the mass onwards.
Sample Itinerary and Budget
|Tacloban to Maasin||Php 200||Fare|
|Maasin to Padre Burgos||Php 30||Fare|
|Padre Burgos to Limasawa Island||Php 100||Fare|
|Brgy. Triana to Dak Dak Beach Resort||Php 15||Per Person|
|Check in at Dak Dak Beach Resort||Php 500|
|Dak Dak Beach Resort to Magallanes||Php 30||Fare Pakyaw|
|Visit First Mass Shrine|
|Visit Magellan’s Cross|
|Attend First Mass Celebration||Php 30||Fare Pakyaw|
|Limasawa Island to Padre Burgos||Php 100||Fare|
|Padre Burgos to Maasin City||Php 30||Fare|
|Maasin City to Tacloban||Php 220||Fare|
|Food||Php 600||Food x 6 times|
|Snacks||Php 300||It’s better to travel with something to eat.|