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Capitol supports celebration of 500 years of Christianity in PH
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia, in a meeting with Archbishop Jose S. Palma, expressed the Cebu Provincial Government’s support to the Archdiocese of Cebu for its year-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the country. (Tonee Despojo)

The Cebu Provincial Government pledges its support to the Archdiocese of Cebu for its year-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first Roman Catholic baptism in the Philippines.

“Yes, you can always count on the cooperation of the Cebu Provincial Government,” Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said in a meeting with Archbishop Jose S. Palma Monday, November 16. Palma was with Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, secretary-general of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

Fr. Balili shared to the governor the opening of the quincentennial celebration with the unveiling of the Jubilee cross on April 4 next year and a line-up of social media activities for the event.

Arch. Palma also expressed the plan to hold a Holy Mass in Capitol before the procession toward Plaza Independencia.

“We hope times to get better by next year. We are waiting for a response from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) on the number of people that we can accommodate for the activities and the protocol,” Arch. Palma said.

“We are willing to comply with government regulations. We are waiting on instructions on how to execute the activities, the most important is we follow government protocols. We will comply a hundred percent,” he added.

Fr. Balili said their proposal was submitted already and they are just waiting for the response any time this month.

He added that the year-long celebration will officially begin on April 4, 2021 to be marked by a Holy Mass simultaneously at the parish level at 4 p.m. 

After the Mass, the parish priest will read out a pastoral letter of Archbishop Palma which will open formally the fifth centenary celebration. The commemoration of the first Christian baptism in the Philippines will culminate on April 14, 2021. 

Governor Garcia said that the Cebu Provincial Government is “willing to collaborate with the objectives of the celebration” so this way she can also help the local government units (LGUs) in putting up cultural shows in coordination with the activities in the shrines. 

“This way Cebu will be highlighted as a religious and beautiful island. We focus on our faith and then we highlight the beauty of the island through its festivals, handicrafts, and its heritage and natural tourism sites,” Garcia said.

Social media activities which are set every Saturday afternoon via the official Facebook page of the 500 YOC dubbed “500 Years of Christianity – Archdiocese of Cebu” features webinars, online talk shows, and videos of different topics highlighting the impact of Christianization in the various aspect of Philippine life and culture. 

The said activities are lodged in the Facebook page as a way of adapting to the new normal way of life and digitalization.


The opening of the 500 YOC (Years of Christianity) parish level and unveiling of the Jubilee Cross is set on April 4, 2021 or Easter Sunday. 

The Jubilee Cross is a replica of Magellan’s cross made of tindalo wood, one of finest Philippine hardwoods. It will visit the different parishes in Cebu together with the image of the Senior Santo Nino de Cebu.

The Triduum Celebrations is set from April 11 to 13, 2021 beginning with a Holy Mass and baptism of adult people at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a motorcade procession of the Jubilee Cross and image of the Senior Santo Nino in Cebu City, and a cultural show at the SM Seaside Center Stage.

On the second day, a Holy Mass and confirmation is set at Saint Joseph National Shrine, a motorcade procession of the Jubilee Cross and image of the Senior Santo Nino in Cebu City South to Talisay City, as well as a cultural show at SM Seaside Center Stage.

On the third day, a Holy Mass will be offered at the National Shrine of the Our Lady of Rule in Lapu-Lapu City to be followed by a motorcade procession and cultural show at the same venue.

On April 14, the reenactment of the first baptism of Rajah Humabon, Cebu’s ruler at the time when the Spaniards arrived in the country, is set. 

There will be a Holy Mass and renewal of baptismal promises and baptism of seven children to represent the seven religious districts of the Archdiocese of Cebu. A cultural show at the Basilica del Santo Nino is set in the evening.

An event primer recollected that “it was on April 14, 1521 when Humabon and fifty men accepted to be baptized by the chaplain of the Spanish fleet. Earlier that week, Ferdinand Magellan, the captain-general, made clear to the natives that they do not become Christians to please the Spaniards or from fear of them, but must do it willfully and for the love of God.” 

Humabon was given the Christian name “Carlos” after that of the King of Spain. Later that day, the Queen of Cebu, referred to by local historians as “Humamay” together with forty ladies, was baptized and was given the Christian name “Juana” after the mother of the King of Spain.

According to the expedition’s chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, on that day alone, around 800 men, women, and children were baptized. And within the succeeding eight days, the whole of the island of Cebu and some neighboring islands received the Christian faith, thus Christianity was born in the Philippines. (Eleanor Valeros)