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 Grinch historians steal Christmas

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In Bolinao, Pangasinan, there is a small monument that marks the site of the first Christmas mass ever held in the Philippines. Two hundred years before Magellan wandered into the Philippine Archipelago, a Franciscan friar named Odoric of Pordenone, Italy is said to have landed on the shores of Pangasinan, seeking shelter from a stormy sea.

Stepping onto the beach and carrying a black crucifix he met “hostile natives” who, upon witnessing his courage and faith, were soon pacified. After showing the locals some pictures of the infant Jesus, Joseph and Mary, the friar and his companions erected a cross and planted a Christmas tree. There they kneeled and celebrated the first Christmas mass in the Philippines and later baptized several Pangasinans. The date was December 25, 1324.

Or maybe that date was in the year 1200 – or maybe it was on some Christmas day between 1280 and 1320. Take your pick; the facts are “open to interpretation,” as some history buffs might say. Real historians, however, must play the part of Scrooge in this Christmas tale and say, "Bah! Humbug!" – because it never really happened.