Friday, March 28, 2008

Before there was Philippines...

... there was Butuan. With a rich history dating back to the 4th century, Butuan City is now the regional center of the Caraga Region in the Philippines. It is located in Northeastern Mindanao, bounded by Agusan del Norte to the south, west and north, Agusan del Sur to the east and Butuan Bay to the northwest. Some say the term Butuan is derived from the name of the sour fruit "Batuan". Others believe it originated from the name of a chieftain named "Datu Buntuan". The more preferred belief is that "Butuan" came from the word "but-an", a local term used to describe a person with good character.

The discovery of 9 balangay boats in Butuan serves as evidence that Butuan is an old civilization which existed even before the Philippines came into being. Chinese history records mention Butuan as a center of trade and commerce, having trade relations with the Kingdom of Champa (now South Vietnam) and Srivijaya Empire of Java as early as the 10th century. Butuanons earnestly believe that Ferdinand Magellan dropped anchor in the vicinity of Masao, Butuan where he held the very first mass on Philippine soil on March 31, 1521, an Easter Sunday. (In 1998, the National Historical Institute ruled that the first mass was held in Limasawa, Leyte. This ruling is still being questioned by Butuanons and other supporters of their claim).

In August 2, 1950, Butuan became a city through Republic Act No. 523 or the City Charter of Butuan. By February 7, 1995, Butuan was classified as a highly urbanized city.

Other facts about Butuan:

Land area - 816.62 sq. km.
Estimated population - 350, 000
Total barangays - 86
Urban barangays - 27
Rural barangays - 59

For more information on Butuan City, please visit www.butuan.gov.ph.


1 comment:

Vic de Jesus said...

"First mass" was not in Masao

Magellan did not go to Masao, Butuan. Or Limasawa.

The place where Magellan’s fleet anchored and where an Easter mass was celebrated on March 31, 1521 was not Butuan. Or, Limasawa.

It was in the island-port named Mazaua. Being an island, it was surrounded by sea water.

There is an article at Wikipedia on Mazaua where all the properties of Mazaua–its location, size, kind of port, shape, the name of its king, its flora and fauna, distances from Homonhon to the port, latitude, etc. etc.–are explicitly defined. Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazaua.

A fairly comprehensive but not exhaustive historiography of the Mazaua issue is contained in an article published in the website of the Italian nuclear scientist and Italian translator of Dr. Jose Rizal, Dr. Vasco Caini, at http://www.xeniaeditrice.it. When the page opens scroll down to the article Mazaua.

The notion the March 31, 1521 mass was held at Butuan comes from the garbled account by Giovanni Battista Ramusio. It is such a corrupted translation of the original that the account is not Antonio Pigafetta’s at all. In this translation, which Henry Harrisse says is a plagiarism by Ramusio of an anonymously published book that saw print in 1534 (no one has seen this edition) and republished in 1536 (which is extant), Ramusio removed “Mazaua” and replaced it with Butuan.

The Butuan error stayed uncorrected for 266 years from 1534 or 1536 until 1800. The error was detected in a book containing the authentic Pigafetta narration of the Magellan voyage, edited by the ex-Augustinian polymath Carlo Amoretti.

But in correcting the error, Amoretti made a colossal blunder which was only detected in 1996 by the author. Amoretti in two footnotes surmised that Mazaua (his exact names for the island was Massana and Mazzana) MAY be the “Limassava” island in the 1734 map of the Philippines by French mapmaker Jacques N. Bellin. This map was an exact copy of the most famous map ever made in the Philippines by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, the edition of 1734.

Amoretti, by way of offering proof to support his assertion, states Limasawa and Mazaua are in the latitude given by Pigafett, 9 degrees and 40 minutes North. This is wrong on three points: 1) Limasawa’s latitude is 9 deg. 56 min. N; 2) There is no island at Pigafetta’s latitude; 3) There are two other readings of latitude for Mazaua, 9 degrees North by The Genoese Pilot which is supported by the Portuguese squadron leader, Antonio de Brito, who embargoed all objects found at the flagship Trinidad including a number of logbooks and other papers, and 9 deg. 20 min. North by Francisco Albo, the Greek mariner who piloted the Victoria back to Spain on Sept. 6, 1522.

The notion Combes’ Limasawa was Magellan’s Mazaua where the “first mass” was held is a false notion. Combes nowhere says his Limasawa is the port where the fleet moored on March 28-April 3, 1521. Nowhere does Combes say there was any mass held in his Limasawa or anywhere in the Philippines for that matter on March 31, 1521. To verify this, go to the English translation of the 3-paragraph story by Combes of Magellan’s sojourn in Philippine waters. Click http://books.google.com/books?id=NbG7kHtBma8C&pg=PA1&dq=First+mass+in+Limasawa&ei=6w27SZi7IoLKlQS8neDVAg#PPA4,M1. The original Spanish text may be accessed at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=philamer;cc=philamer;q1=Limasaua;rgn=full%20text;idno=ahz9273.0001.001;didno=ahz9273.0001.001;view=image;seq=00000134

Where then is Magellan’s port today? The answer may be found at the ff. Wikipedia articles:

1. First mass in the Philippines –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_mass_in_the_Philippines

2. Carlo Amoretti — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Amoretti

3. Gines de Mafra — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gines_de_Mafra

4. Mazaua — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazaua

5. Francisco Combes — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Comb%C3%A9s

6. Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_de_Herrera_y_Tordesillas

7. Andres de San Martin — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9s_de_San_Mart%C3%ADn

8. Ruy Lopez de Villalobos — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruy_Lopez_de_Villalobos

No serious scholar of Magellan historiography today still thinks Limasawa is Mazaua. Only the National Historical Institute and fanatic advocates (not scholars) of Amoretti’s Limasawa hypothesis still think the southern isle is or can be Mazaua.

Ironically, some writers from Butuan think in the same way as NHI itself. For what unexplained reason, it’s not clear.

The only remaining problem is whether the suspect isle of Pinamanculan-Bancasi is really Mazaua. This issue is not historiographical. It is archaeological, i.e., there is need to come up with artefacts directly traceable to Magellan, Gines de Mafra, and a number of other recorded visits by Europeans in the 16th century.

These artefacts cannot be produced by further historiographical conversation. It is only by digging that concrete evidence may be found.

VICENTE CALIBO DE JESUS
ginesdemafra@gmail.com