In Suluan, south of Samar, a small boat with around nine men approached the strangers that had wandered into their water. Used to having traders come to their shores, the people gave fish, a jar of palm wine (alak), bananas, and coconuts in exchange for the strangers’ red caps, mirrors, combs, bells, and other such items.

These strangers were mostly Europeans, who came under the Spanish flag. Their leader, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese seaman, had appeared in the Spanish court in 1518 with a strange proposal: to reach the wealth and spices of the east by sailing west.

King Charles took to the project with lively interest and after a year’s preparations, 18 months at sea, series of mutinies, desertions, and battles with scurvy, Magellan, with his half-starved crew, dropped anchor at Suluan, after which they moved on to Limasawa, where the ruler of Butuan, Rajah Kolambu, received them. On Easter Sunday, March 31, 1521, Father Pedro Valderrama celebrated the first holy mass in the Philippines. It was attended by the remaining crew of Magellan and the natives. At the consecration, all the canons saluted our Eucharistic Lord. After the mass, the natives expressed their desire to be Christians, and for this, Magellan hastily planted a big cross on the top of the hill.

The intensive Christianization process of the island would start only with the coming of the Legazpi expedition in 1565, which brought the first missionaries, the Agustinians. Missionaries from the other orders would follow: Franciscans (1578), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and the Agustinian Recollects (1606).