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A defender of a poor

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A Defender of the Poor
(a short bibliography of Velez)

       Don Apolinar Velez was born on Jan 23, 1865, in Cagayan, Misamis. He is the son of Blas Velez and Saturnina Ramos. He was educated at Fra. R. Zueco’s private school of Attorney Leoncio Roa, and S. Jis de Ortega’s college. In 1884, he was a clerk in the office of the court of first instance of Misamis. From 1886 to 1891, he held the positions of oficial de mesa, interpreter, and defensor depresos pobres. Previous to that time, he held the post of second lieutenant of infantry of the Spanish army, and was decorated with the Medalla de Mindanao. In 1898, he was made chief of the division of justice of the provincial council of the Revolutionary Government two years later, he was promoted to the rank of major of the revolutionary army and chief of the battalion “El Mindanao.”From 1901 to 1906, Don Apolinar Velez held the post of provincial secretary after which he was elected governor of Misamis for two terms. During the 1928 election, in response to the demands of his sympathizers, he ran for the post of municipal president of Cagayan, and was easily elected. He ran for the position of member of the provincial board last June and was elected to hold office for the next three years. Don Apolinar spends his leisure hours playing chess or billiard, or reading books. He plays the piano, like everybody else in the family. He married Leona Chaves y Roa on May 10, 1887, thus joining two of the biggest families in Misamis.


        This, Governor Velez sought to remedy by putting up the first secondary school in Misamis Province. So he went to Manila the set of then highly centralized Insular Government and conferred with the education officials and finally had an audience with the American Governor-General- William Cameron Forbes. The Governor however, agreed to release only P16, 000.00 for this project estimated to cost P32, 000.00 with the province raising the half or a counterpart fund and setting up a sizeable site for the school building and athletic field.  
After almost three years of intensive fund campaign Governor Velez was able to put up the first building in the present site of the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School. The site is located in Lot No. 426, Cad. 387, Case 2, Cagayan Cadastre with a total area of 73, 629 hectares.
On the north and northeast side of the building where the Pelaez Sports Center now proudly stands where the vegetable gardens which were owned by several families- the Abrios, Caballeros, Corrales, Dalmans, Damiles, Galans, Mabulays, Pacaliogas, Ralutos, Salusos, Raypons, Saarenas, Tabiques, Velez and Yabuts. They sold their lots for a very low price as their contribution to the project to Ex-Judge Nicolas Capistrano who did not hesitate to exchange the whole area with a less valuable lot in Agusan, Misamis Oriental.

   The school was formally inaugurated on December 15, 1909 with the impressive array of national officials attending the ceremonies. The prominent guests included the American Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, Speaker Sergio Osmena Sr, Hon. Manuel L. Quezon of Tayabas, Hon. Jose Clarin of Bohol, Hon. Manuel Tinio of Nueva Ecija, Hon. Dionesio Jacosalem of Cebu and Tomas Earshaw of Manila.

   Classes were opened for the intermediate grades and for first year high school. The second, third and fourth year classes were added as soon as funds becomes available. The First Filipino teachers in the intermediate grades were Esperanza Roa Ongpin and Juanita Fenandez -Neri. The School had its first graduation in 1922 with Pilar Gaerlan, Laureana Rabe - Canoy, Milagros Roa Solidium. Messrs Francisco Abejay, Sotero Bacas, Roque Chavez, Ernesto Fernandez, Daniel Gallarita, Clemente Galindo, Pedro Pimentel, Federico Roa and Juan Uriarte as the fist graduates. The early high school course included the intermediate grades but in 192, due to an increase in enrolment and lack of school building, the intermediate students were separated from the high school administration.

   American educators charted its course during the years of American colonization but later on they turned over this responsibility to the Filipinos. These were the Principals who provided leadership and guidance by their administration.

{--[(BY:Auxilio,Jovanni G.)]--}