This week in Christian history: First baptisms in Philippines

First Filipinos become Christians – April 14, 1521

Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), a Portuguese explorer whose expedition circumnavigated the Earth.
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), a Portuguese explorer whose expedition circumnavigated the Earth. | Public Domain

This week marks the anniversary of the first recorded instance of natives of the Philippines converting to Christianity, specifically through a mass baptism event.

Spanish missionary Father Pedro Valderrama oversaw the baptism of Datu Humabon, the leader of Cebu who took the name Don Carlos Valderrama, along with approximately 800 locals.

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The mission work came as part of the expedition across the world by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who planted a cross on the Philippine island where it occurred.

Five hundred years later, a reenactment of the mass baptism took place in Cebu, with local Church official Archbishop Jose Palma giving remarks at the event.

“Cebu, our island, is considered the cradle of Christianity in the entire Philippines. Spanish missionaries gave the local population the icon of the Santo Nino or the Child Jesus as a gift and as a reminder of the consecration of our people,” said Palma, as quoted by UCA News.

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