The Batalay Shrine

The site of the first cross in Catanduanes, believed to have been constructed over the grave of the shipwrecked Fr. Diego de Herrera of the Augustinian order in 1576, who died in the barangay of Batalay. A well believed to have water with healing powers can be found in this shrine. From the town proper of Bato, it would take only 15 minutes to reach this place.

Reading the online historical accounts about the fate of Fray Diego de Herrera and Espiritu Santo crew, I found some interesting yet inconclusive accounts as to what really happened.

"Located at the Southeastern coast of Catanduanes is a reef called Nagngangang Buaya which is linked by traditional with the place where a Galleon Espiritu Santo taken by Fray Diego de Herrera and nine other companies which embarked from Mexico suffered shipwreck on April 25, 1576 on their way to Cebu because of the negligence of the pilot of the ship and bad weather." - wikipedia

In October last year, the Historical and Nautical Archaeology Foundation (HNAF) in cooperation with the Philippine National Museum conducted an expedition to scour the waters off the northeastern shores of Catanduanes in search for the galleon shipwrecks of San Geronimo and Espiritu Santo, believed to have sunked in 1576, apparently by bad weather. But the search was aborted because of the controversial magnetite mining in Bagamanoc at that time.

If were to believe that Espiritu Santo was shipwrecked in the reef called Nagngangang Buaya in Bato because of negligence and bad weather, then the HNAF expedition is searching at the wrong site.

Though there maybe a lot of speculations and theories as to what really happened in April 25, 1576. Possibly the galleon Espiritu Santo was lost on their way to Cebu and ran aground at the coral reefs in Nagngangang Buaya due to poor visibility caused by fog or a mutiny was taking place inside the galleon. Blaming it to bad weather would be unlikely because April is the onset of summer season in Catanduanes.

Hope that the HNAF search expedition would resume this year to shed light on what really happened.

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