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Every year on the 31st of March, the Diocese of Maasin in Coordination with Southern Leyte LGU

and Limasawa LGU celebrates the First Mass in the Philippines and Asia Anniversary. This year
is the 498th celebration of the first mass. According to history, the first ever Catholic Mass on the
Philippines was 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 First Holy Mass marked
the birth of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines. The said anniversary will cause the inflow of
pilgrims and tourists, thus preparation for a smooth and safe flow of every activity that will be
conducted. As such, BFP Southern Leyte participated in the preparation which was attended by
several local government units, national line agencies, and private institutions.

A team to be deployed in Limawas was forged by Provincial Fire Marshal CINSP DOROTHEO
CLARO A MOCORRO. Thus on 28 of March 2019, after a final briefing at Maasin City Fire
Station the team proceeded to Maasin City Port for departure OOA 290230H March 2019
through a barge chartered by Southern Leyte LGU. The team and the augmented Maasin City
Firetruck arrived at Limasawa Island on 290700H March 2019. Thereafter, the team made a
courtesy call with Limasawa Mayor Melchor Petracorta. The team was divided into five groups,
where the four groups conducted fire safety inspections of several identified locations where
people are expected to converge while the group of CINSP Mocorro conducted area
assessment, firetruck visibility, and briefings. Around 1530H, all members of the Incident
Management Team, including BFP, was summoned for a meeting to discuss/remind the tasking,
deployment, safety and security, communication plan, accommodation and food supply. After
dinner, CINSP Mocorro divided the team into two for shifting of posts as it was necessary that
BFP personnel should be available to the public 24/7. While CINSP Mocorro was the overall
ground commander, he was assisted by SFO3 Joel A Jarabe and SFO1 Placido B Cortina. Team
1 was led by SFO1 Sandy C Bongalos while Team 2 was led by SFO1 Larry P Abrau.

On 30 March 2019, as early as 0600H Team 1 already took their post on “ground zero”, where
most of the people will converge. Team 2 took post on 1200H and was again substituted by
Team 1 on 1800H. by 1900H, the Sr. Sto Niño of Cebu arrived together with a flock of the
devotees with it followed by a short program, praise and worship and fireworks display. On 2400,
Team 2 took post until 0600H of 31 March 2019.

As Team 1 took post on 310600H March 2019, a Holy Mass was celebrated by Most. Rev.
Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines together with Maasin Bishop
Precioso Cantillas, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Palo Archbishop John Du, diocese priests,
and other religious groups. The celebration was ended by a dance presentation depicting the
arrival of Magellan in Limasawa Island. Thereafter, CINSP Mocorro assembled the team and
gave a short message on a successful, peaceful and without any untoward incident. He gave
each and everyone an appreciation on the effort and time devoted by them. The team made an
exit call with Mayor Petracorta and they were requested to assist on a swimming event the
following day where “Pinoy Aquaman” with several swimmers will swim from Limasawa Island
to Padre Burgos which the team voluntarily obliged to do so. FO3 Wednesday Ryan E Orito,
FO2 Earnswell P Tan and members of the Special Rescue Unit (SRU) were designated to assist
in the swimming event.

BFP Southern Leyte, together with other agencies, coordinated well with each other for a
successful 498th First Mass Celebration. The success of every activity is indisputably made to
depend on the coordination and teamwork of everyone who is involved and the person behind
these men and women. As the 500th Anniversary is just around the corner, preparations are
already in place wherein BFP Southern Leyte is always available anytime, anywhere. BFP
Southern Leyte supports the First Mass Anniversary for not only it acknowledges that it is part
of tourism but most of all the First Mass in the Philippines marked the beginning of Christianity
in the Philippines and in Asia. ###

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