Now for a quick look at history. In 1626, a 26-year old Augustinian Recollect friar arrived in Cagayan. His name was Fray Agustin de San Pedro, a Portuguese. Before his priesthood, he studied mathematics, architecture, gunnery, and military strategy at the University of Salamanca. Fray Agustin persuaded the leader of Himologan, Datu Salangsang, to transfer his settlement down river, to the area of today's Gaston Park and San Agustin Cathedral. Here, Fray Agustin built a church of native materials. Inside, he baptized Datu Salangsang and his wife, and later his people. Be informed that early settlers in Cagayan were not Muslims, but were polytheisitc animists although they paid tribute to Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, more known as Sultan Kudarat, who reigned from 1623 to 1671.
The Recoletos made Cagayan their mission center in 1674. But only on August 28, 1780 did they declare San Agustin the patron saint of Cagayan.In 1845, Fray Simon Loscos de Santa Catalina reconstructed the church, using marine stones from China. It had protruding buttresses and a single belfry. Inside were a magnificent altar and sanctuary with carved wooden niches and paintings. This church was destroyed during the Japanese bombing of Cagayan in 1945, exactly a hundred years later.In 1888, the Recoletos erected a wooden cross -- "Santa Cruz" -- outside the San Agustin Church. This, however, still stands today.
On June 29, 1951, Pope Pius XII created the first Catholic archbishopric in Mindanao, when he elevated the Diocese of Cagayan into an archdiocese.
Chess is a well-loved game in this city. Whenever you see a group of men huddled together in any alley or open space like this one at Gaston Park, the activity would most likely be a game of chess or, as the case in the 2nd photo, dama.
Source: Antonio J. Montalvan II. Mr Montalvan is a Mindanao anthropologist, ethnohistorian and a Ford Foundation scholar for the doctorate in anthropology on Mindanao Studies with the Mindanao Anthropology Consortium. He has written articles about Mindanao history and culture in academic journals, and contributes a monthly column to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He is the author of "A Cagayan de Oro Ethnohistory Reader", which was launched on March 8, 2004. Montalvan is also the vice-president of the Heritage Conservation Advocates.
As of March 4, 2006, my former Arts & Sciences Dean, Fr. Antonio Ledesma SJ, is the newly-appointed Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro. We offer our warmest congratulations and prayers for his success and continued health.