|Statue of Gov. Apolinar Velez on horseback|
In the early years of American occupation only few places in the country had schools to serve the need of children aspiring to get higher education. People from the provinces had to send their children for their education to the capitals of the country. In that context only rich families were capable to provide their children better education. Fortunately, the Americans were more dedicated in improving the literacy of the Filipinos than their Spanish predecessors. Education was the greatest legacy the Americans left to the Filipinos. Under their administration they saw to it that children from age 7 years and above should be in school and that free educational materials were availed to them. The Americans also helped facilitate the establishments of elementary, secondary and tertiary schools in different parts of the Philippines.
In 1907, Don Apolinar Velez, one of the founding fathers of Cagayan de Oro and the governor of Misamis Oriental thought of establishing a secondary school in his native place so that parents would not have to send their children either to Manila or Cebu to study. He conveyed his proposal to the Philippine legislative assembly which was headed by Speaker Sergio Osmeña of Cebu. During that time the Philippines was one of the unincorporated territories of the United States. Filipinos were given a semblance of autonomy by having all-Filipino elected members of the National Assembly. Executive power however was vested to the American governor general who was appointed by the President of the United States.
Don Apolinar’s effort came into fruition when he was granted an audience by Governor General William Cameron Forbes. The latter gave a green light to the plan. He told Don Apolinar to secure a piece of land for the school that would include a large athletic field which was a necessity since American school curriculum included sports.
|The site of the school should include an athletic field|
The generosity of some people of Cagayan de Misamis now Cagayan de Oro to donate their lands as the site of the school realized the establishment of the Misamis Provincial High School which was also called Escuela Provincial. The school was inaugurated on December 15, 1909 with no less than Governor General William Cameron Forbes as the guest of honor. Other guests included Speaker Sergio Osmeña and other dignitaries.
Classes formally opened on January 10, 1910 with an all American faculty. The first principal was the American Mr. Henry Smith. The last one who was American was Mr. William Goodrich. Mr. Simeon Vale was the first Filipino to hold that office in 1928. Due to the increasing number of students the intermediate grades were separated from high school administration in 1926.
The periods of the Philippine Commonwealth, the Second World War and the Philippine Independence saw the transformation of MOHS from an American administered school into a Filipino administered one with its curriculum attuned to the cultural, educational and other circumstances of young Filipino personalities. On June 1, 1965 RA 4247 converted MOHS into a national high school, and since then it has been known as Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School or MOGCHS.
Cagayan de Oro as a highly urbanized city became administratively independent from Misamis Oriental. The province however still keeps its seat of government in the city. And it still owns some properties and institutions inside the city. This includes MOHS which is presently called MOGCHS.
During the term of President Corazon Aquino a new 1987 Philippine Constitution provided for a compulsory and free education for all children at the elementary and high school levels. The provision has benefited many Filipino families specially the poor who could not afford to send their children to private schools.
Today, it is easier even for poor families to enable their children have elementary and high school educations because they are for free and schools are widely available so that even barangays have their own national high schools. Families belonging to middle class and the rich usually send their children to private schools.
Being a public school, MOGCHS is a school for the masses and for everyone who wishes to study there. Although the school is under the administrative jurisdiction of the province of Misamis Oriental, it is in essence a school for the people of Cagayan de Oro because most of its students are from the city and that its location is in the heart of the city. MOGCHS and its athletic field which is now the Pelaez Sports Center are not only pioneer institutions of learning and sports in the city but they are also historical sites of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.