The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure declaring March 31 of every year as a special non-working holiday in the entire province of Southern Leyte in commemoration of the first Mass held in the country 496 years ago.
House Bill No. 5060, principally authored by Deputy Major Leader and Southern Leyte Lone District Rep. Roger Mercado, declares the said date as the “First Mass Day” to memorialize the first Mass held in Limasawa Island in the province.
“The approval of the bill is a confirmation that the State should recognize the significance of March 31 as an important date for its religious belief, considering that the first Mass of the Christian faith was held on March 31, 1521 at Limasawa Island in Southern Lyte,” said Mercado.
The Mass was the first religious rite of the Christian faith in the country, according to Mercado.
Based on historical accounts, the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines was held on March 31, 1521, Easter Sunday, along the shores of Limasawa in Southern Leyte. It was officiated by Father Pedro de Valderrama.
Limasawa is considered the birthplace of the Catholic Church in the country.
The bill provides that March 31 of every year shall hereby be declared a special nonworking holiday in the whole Province of Southern Leyte, in commemoration of the first Mass held in Limasawa Island, Province of Southern Leyte, to be known as the “First Mass Day.”
Other authors of the bill are Reps. Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone District, Camiguin), Benhur Lopez (Party-list, YACAP), Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao), and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan).