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Date Posted: 01/04/10

The Island of Limasawa

By: Arturo Valdez

School textbooks had made the island famous as the site of the first Christian mass in the archipelago although this is heatedly disputed by Barangay Mazzau of the City of Butuan. Whatever the real story and the truth, it is left to the historians with their evidences to prove their thesis. Meanwhile, we were all excited to visit this famous island.

The prevailing northeasterly wind was blowing favorably in our direction giving us more time to observe and enjoy the scenery. Midway, we spotted dolphins at a distance some performing acrobatics by jumping into the air. Sights like this made the voyage of the Balangay worth at all. The northeasterly wind or “Amihan” pushed us faster than expected that by 10AM we made landfall and were met by crowds of people eagerly waiting for arrival. No less than the Mayor, Melchor Petracorta led the islanders to welcome us ashore. This time the visitors were no Magellans but us - bronzed skinned descendants of their Austronesian forebears on board the native Balangay landing here several millenniums of years before the first white people ever set foot in this part of the world.

This was Sunday Nov 22 but the islanders converged around their gymnasium to listen to our story. Then followed a brief guided tour among the historical shrines around the island especially on the supposed site where the first mass was held. In the evening we entertained the islanders with videos of our Mt Everest expedition taken by ABS CBN.

The people were surprised that we were only staying overnight. They wanted us to stay longer and see more of the scenic and historical places especially where the whale sharks regularly feed. I wished I could do so but I cannot stay longer in the island. Limasawa has no protective shelter for Diwata. That LPA I had been monitoring for the past days had now developed into a tropical cyclone, now code named “Urduja.” I have to make a dash into Surigao hoping to make it there before “Urduja” hit land. I am taking chances, expecting calmer seas from the proverbial “calm before the storm” when I cross the treacherous Surigao Strait. Once “Urduja” is in the area, the Strait will not be navigable anymore for boats like Diwata. Worse, I don’t want to be left a sitting duck in Limasawa. 


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