A Journey of 100 years in a day
A Historical Tour of the CDO-UCCP Story
Last Saturday, 10 December 2016, a small group of church members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) had the enviable experience to journey 100 years of their church’s history in a day.
Half a day to be exact. And our time machine was no less than the UCCP CDO Kia Van which comfortably transported us back to a hundred years ago to the birth of our local church.
The journey was made even more enjoyable and a rich experience for all since our company covered members from the past to the present: Rev. Joe Malayang, who was our senior minister when the church celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 1966; Annie Taglucop-Javelosa, daughter of Rev. Angel Taglucop who served as our head pastor from 1935-1938; Elving Noro, Lily Millian, and of course our ‘tour guides’ headed by Imma Rae “Em-em” Gatuslao with cousin Sheila Amor Dagapioso, and the youngest of our batch, Zaireen Jett. C. Malijao, all 12 years of her.
After a short briefing and prayer graced by by Centennial chair Rev. Prudencio Plaza, Jr. and head minister Rev. Ricardo Yañez, our small group proceeded to the city hall complex via Burgos and Capistrano streets.
Our first stop was the site of the former house rented by Rev. Dr. Frank C. Laubach and his wife Effe Seely now occupied by the Legislative Building of the city government. According to Em-em, the big house was rented by the Laubach couple form Clementino Chaves, a pillar of the then fledgling church affectionately known to everyone as Ñor Mentoy. It was used as a meeting place for pastors and other church events and as an outpatient clinic by Mrs. Effe Laubach who was a nurse and treated patients with the help of “Four Boys” who remained unidentified till now.
The house was right next to the Vamenta property on which a structure dating back before the Second World War still stands. According to Mrs. Annie, this building housed the first classrooms of the first Ateneo school for boys established by the late Archbishop Santiago Hayes during the 1930’s.
Next stop was the corner of Tirso Neri and Gen. N. Capistrano Streets on which now stands the Gonzalo M. Chaves Building.
Probably the most significant stop of the tour, here on 17 December 1916, the fledgling Cagayan Mission then known as the Cagayan Evangelical Church (Congregational) held its first formal Sunday Worship Service on 17 December 1916 in a rented space in Cine Biyay, owned by Ñor Mentoy Chaves.
Next stop just a block away on the corner of Cruz Taal and Gen. N. Capistrano streets was the site of the Cagayan Mission Hospital where the second church chapel was housed. Unfortunately, the edifice burned down in 1937 leading to the construction of the third chapel at the corner of Uldarico Akut and General Nicolas Capistrano streets just before World War II.
From there we proceeded to Pilgrim Christian College (PCC) campus, another bulwark of the UCCP Cagayan de Oro City Church, which is encircled by Uldarico Akut, Gen. N. Capistrano, M.H. del Pilar and Tiano Brothers streets.
Originally known as the Pilgrim Institute, it opened in 06 June 1948 with some 250 students from first to fourth year high school. Classes were held at Carruth Memorial Hall, a pre-war girls dormitory.
From here PCC Gymnasium was just a few steps across Akut street and it was here that the third chapel of the church was built before the Second World War after the second chapel was burned down along with the Cagayan Mission Hospital in 1937.
Unfortunately, the Japanese military stripped the church of its valuable lumber during the war. The congregation rebuilt a better and more attractive structure which served as the first UCCP Cagayan de Oro church when the UCCP was created in 1948. It served until 1977 when the present city church was constructed in the former Mission Compound at F. Abellanosa and Julio Pacana Streets in Licoan.
Thus, we ended our hundred year’s journey back in history where we started at the UCCP Cagayan de Oro City Church compound where its centennial will be celebrated on 17 December 2016, marking the first century of the first formal Sunday Worship service held at Cine Biyay.
Soli Deo Gloria! Mabuhay!
(Note: the writer is a member of the UCCP Cagayan de Oro City Church and the Cagayan de Oro Historical & Cultural Commission.)