Actually, there is no controversy anymore.
The Limasawa error, which the National Historical Institute turned into a hoax in 1998, was fully explained in the article read before The Society for the History of Discoveries on 13 October 2000 at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
The idea Limasawa was anchorage of Magellan’s fleet on March to April 1521 rests entirely on two erroneous assertions of an ex-priest who had NOT read any eyewitness account. He hadn’t ead Gines de Mafra, Francisco Albo, The Genoese Pilot, Martin de Ayamonte. Nor the 3 extant French codices of Ant. Pigafetta.
He also failed to read key secondary sources, e.g., Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de Brito, and Maximilianus Transylvanus.
He read only the extant Italian manuscript of Pigafetta we know today as the Ambrosiana codex.
The name of this resigned Augustinian is Carlo Amoretti.
Here are the two assertions of Amoretti:
1. That Mazaua (actually he used Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s Massana and Messana, the Italian equivalent of Maximilianus Transylvanus’ Latin word Massanam) is the island Limassava shown in the map of Jacques N. Bellin of 1734; and
2. That the latitude of Limassava and Massana are in Antonio Pigafetta’s 9 deg. 40′ North.
Amoretti’s dicta were uncritically- -more correctly, mindlessly– repeated by James Burney (1803), Lord Stanley of Alderley (1874), Jose T. Medina (1890), Manuel Walls y Merino (1899), James Alexander Robertson (1903), F.H.H. Guillemard (1890), and everyone else down the line. Martin Fernandez de Navarette (1837) did not follow this thoughtless surmise. Leonce Peillard (1991) defied it asserting Mazaua was in Mindanao.
Filipino and Philippine historiographers just as mindlessly adopted the Amoretti claim. This is most perplexing in the case of Pablo Pastells, S.J. who was co-editor with Wenceslao Retana of the 1897 edition of Fr. Francisco Combes, S.J., inventor of the word “Limasaua.” Pastells was author of a note found on Page cxxxiii that states merely that based on a French translation of Pigafetta (this was the 1801 French edition of Amoretti’s transcription of Pigafetta, but more likely the Spanish translation of the French by Jose Toribio Medina) Magellan did not go to Mindanao. Pastells does not outright declare the anchorage of Magellan from March-April 1521 to be Limasaua. Pastells saw the difficulty of declaring Limasaua as anchorage because the Combes story of Limasaua mentions NO mass being held anywhere in the Philippines on March 31, 1521.
Pastells makes a totally mind-blowing assertion in his 1900 edition, a 3-vol. republication, of Francisco Colin’s work Labor evangelica.. . In footnote (2) on Page 144, Pastells asserts, “Se dijo en la Isla de Dimasaua. V. Pigafetta.” This is either an absent-minded professor’s thoughtless claim or a mindless if careless remark by an inattentive writer or a sleight of hand maneuver to force a false claim.
Nowhere in Amoretti, be it in his original French or in the Spanish translation of it by Jose T. Medina, is there a declaration by Amoretti or Antonio Pigafetta himself that an Easter mass was held on March 31, 1521 in an island named “Dimasaua.” Amoretti surmised Mazaua was Bellin’s Limassava. Pigafetta named the isle Mazaua (spelled Mazzana in the Italian map, Mazzaua in 3 French texts).
In any case, early on the onset of American colonization of the Philippines, there was a babelian free-for-all as to the real name of the “site of the first mass.” I like to think of it as a kind of festival of inventions, there was Limasaoa, Limasagua, Simasaua, Simasagua, Bimasagua, Bimasaua, Limassava, Limasaua. Thrown into the mele were eyewitness names Mazaua, Masaoa, Mazagua, Macava, etc.
To put sense and order into this chaos, in 1908 a committee made up by Trinidad Herminigildo Pardo de Tavera, Dr. Najeeb Mitry Saleeby, Carlos Everett Conant and Emerson B. Christie revised a map of “The World Book Co.” and spelled the name “Limasawa” by way of resolving the confusion of the many names. This orthography was adopted by the Phil. government’s “Philippine Committee on Geographical Names.”
What was the basis for this earth-shaking dictat? Tavera’s spin on Pastell’s earlier spin on Amoretti’s surmise, “Magellan did not land in Mindanao, and the first mass was not held in Butuan.” Tavera later reshaped this into his more famous dismissive remark, which one Jesuit priest calls apodictic, “En Limasawa y no en Butuan fue endonde se celebro la primera Misa en estas regiones.”
This remark is the entire logical construct of the Limasawa hypothesis, a reconstruction of what Amoretti asserted. In 1953 the National Historical Institute (then known as National Historical Committee) invoked a paraphrase of this Tavera dictum by a Leyte historian, Jayme de Veyra who said he seems to recall having read Tavera’s remark, as proof of Limasawa being Magellan’s Mazaua, “site of the first mass.”
Virtually all official “verdicts” coming from the National Historical Institute–I recall two before its disastrous one in 1998–are entirely based on Tavera’s remark. The NHI further made this conundrum virtually impossible of solution by framing the issue of Mazaua’s identity in terms of the question, “Where is the site of the first mass, Limasawa or Butuan?” I explained this fallacious and falsifying proposition in my SHD paper as the fallacy of the false dichotomous question which asks the reader to pick between two
In 1998, the NHI not only dismissed Gines de Mafra as fake, with full knowledge it wasn’t.
It twisted the conversation beyond rational bounds by making it appear that my paper was trying to prove Butuan is the port when I took pains to show that the Butuan error was a product of the corruption of the Pigafetta account by Ramusio and that the island in question was Mazaua. In my paper I listed all the properties of Mazaua–The Table of Correspondence- -which showed there is not one point where Limasawa and Mazaua coincide.
Only the NHI and pro-Limasawa historiographers (if there is one honest historiographer among its rank left) still think Limasawa could be the island Mazaua.
The problem that faces us all is this: Is the island of Pinamanculan- Bancasi, discovered by earth scientists using the insight of Gines de Mafra, the real port of Magellan’s fleet?
That question cannot be answered by the tools of historiography. Archaeology is the proper tool that could unlock the truth of that island. And what will prove that isle is Mazaua? Artifacts that can be directly traced to Magellan and to Gines de Mafra and other Europeans visitors during the Age of Sail.
How many artifacts are needed to comprise compelling evidence? That is a question that no one can definitively answer. Unless we unearth a signed affidavit in 20-karat gold tablet by Fernao de Magalhaes, notarized by Raia Siaiu and witnessed by citizens of Mazaua, saying, “I declare this is the site of the first mass!”
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PINOYWORLD Editor: This interesting insight and dissection to history is shared to us by “Vicente C. de Jesus” <firstname.lastname@example.org>.