Sunset in Masao

The sun has just set and the cool seabreeze slapped our faces as we gazed at the cross by the shores of Masao, Butuan City a couple of months ago, the place which nurtures the past and claims its place in history as the original site of the First Easter Mass in the country.We felt as if we were transported back several centuries ago and I could just imagine Ferdinand Magellan’s party stepping up in the Philippine soil for the first time.

The two-day trip with companions Cecille Tri¤o of the Office of the President in Mindanao, Marilyn Roque of dxRP, Ben Diansay of the Mindanao Gazette, CQ Francisco of Mindanao Times, John Paul Seniel and the late Jay Glodo of GMA-5TV network took us to this place which has seen over 1,677 years of recorded history and has been the subject of controversy as it fought with Limasawa Island for recognition as the original site of the First Easter Mass in Philippine Soil in March 16, 1521.

The issue even came to a point when Limasawa and Masao both held a grand celebration of the 475th anniversary of the recorded First Mass in their respective places. The dispute has been going on until now as experts have been called to intervene and to settle it once and for all.Only the base of the original wooden cross remained in the site. The present barangay settlers planted another cross a few feet back from where the original cross stood but its still there. A short stop at the Butuan National Museum that afternoon told us that Butuan’s history, culture, arts and people date back to the 4th Century as showcased in museums and festivals.

The accomodating curator of the museum told us that as early as the 11the century, Butuan has become the center of trade in Agusan.We were given a tour of the museum and glimpsed how the early settlers existed as indicated by the things they used like earthenwares, cooking utensils, coffins, boats, jewelry, farming tools and other things.

She however apologized for not allowing us to take photos or take a video footage as the exhibits were of sensitive nature and could produce a negative reaction to the flash of cameras.It was completely dark when we left Magellan’s cross. I came away feeling fortunate because its not often that one gets to experience watching the sunset on a place bathed with a significant history of the country.*

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