The first mass in Cagayan-A A +A
Sunday, November 27, 2011
IN THE search for the actual site where the first mass in Cagayan was celebrated in 1622, it is important for us to know the size of the ancient territory of Cagaiang during the pre-Hispanic and early Spanish periods.
Do you know that the El Salvador City and the municipality of Opol were once part of Cagayan de Oro for over a century? It was only a year or so before 1950 that the people of El Salvador, formerly known as Tagnipa, and Opol publicly expressed their desire to separate from Cagayan once it becomes a city.
I mention this historic fact because it is important for us to know that as we study the early history of Cagayan, we should not limit our knowledge on the present political boundaries of the city. Rather, we must consider the size of the ancient territory that once stretched to present day El Salvador to the west and perhaps, even beyond that; and on the east, the area was up to Barangay Agusan.
Another interesting fact is that Iponan, which is before Opol, was first mentioned in a 1636 Spanish colonial document as "Yponan". It was such a prosperous place that Opol was under its governance in the 18th century.
Today, this barangay is the political boundary of the city on the west and together with Opol, Molugan and El Salvador, they formed one of the oldest and continuously populated areas in Northern Mindanao.
Then we also have to take into account the fact that the earliest poblacion of Cagayan de Oro, then known as Cagaiang, could have been established by the Spanish Recollect priests sometime after 1622. However, the records and documents of the Recollects placed 1622 as the year when this second settlement was founded.
Many historians agree that it would take more than a year to move Datu Salangsang and his 500 followers out of Himologan and settle them on this new fortified village along the Cagaiang River. This second settlement is located in the present area of Barangay 1 and its environs.
I am giving this historical data because these are important things to be considered in the search for the site where the first mass in Cagayan was said. This mass was probably said a little after Fray Juan de San Nicolas and Fray Francisco de la Madre de Dios arrived in Himologan. And that Salangsang wanted them to perform the Catholic rites outside of the promontory in deference to his "diwatahan" or little temple that was prominently placed in the middle of their community.
I wish that the priests wrote lengthily and gave detailed descriptions about the two sites -- that of Himologan and the land "by the river that was near the sea." The latter site is the mute witness to the first mass that was said in Cagaiang in 1622. (To be concluded)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 28, 2011.