Don Apolinar Velez Street is probably the most famous street in modern Cagayan de Oro City basically because it traverses the citys main commercial business district from CM Recto (National Highway) down to Nazareth passing through Divisoria. But who really is Don Apolinar Velez?
The late Apolinar Velez y. Ramos (January 23, 1865 – October 21, 1939) was the Mayor of Cagayan de Misamis From 1928 to 1931 and also the Governor of the Misamis Provinces from 1906 to 1909. He led the Filipinos during the Battle of Makahambus that resulted in the victory of the Filipinos.
He was born on Jan 23, 1865, in Cagayan, Misamis, a 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.”
It was during that time when the Americans invaded Misamis that Apolinar Velez led the momentous Battle of Makahambus on the 4th of June 1900, now considered as the Philippines’ first victory over the American forces through guerilla tactics vs. advance military technology. The Americans would eventually defeat the Filipino guerillas under Velez.
Peace reigned and 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.
Photo shows statue of Don Apolinar Velez on a horse at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), which concidentally is along the street named after him.