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Bolinao stakes claim to Mass held in 1324

By Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 21:46:00 11/17/2007

BOLINAO, PANGASINAN -- Was a Catholic Mass held here 200 years before Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines?

Memorial markers were put up in front of the town’s church and on Santiago Island, claiming that in 1324, Franciscan missionaries led by an Italian priest named Odorico took refuge in this town during a typhoon.

The markers said Odorico celebrated a thanksgiving Mass in honor of the safe journey of the mission. Odorico also baptized natives during his brief stay here.

The markers, which were put up in July, were donated by Italian priest Luigi Malamocco, who hails from Odorico’s hometown of Friuli, Italy.

Malamocco, 62, the chief financier of Villa Brunora, a retreat house in Batangas City, published a booklet that claimed the first Mass in the country was held in Bolinao and not on Limasawa Island or in any other place in the country.

Historical accounts recognize Limasawa in Southern Leyte as the venue of the first Mass held on March 31, 1521, Easter Sunday.

Another claimant to hosting the first Mass was Butuan City on behalf of its old Masao (Mazaua) district.

The National Historical Institute, however, settled the dispute on the venue of the first Mass in favor of Limasawa.