Northeast Luzon Mission

Photo courtesy of North Philippine Union Conference Archives.

Northeast Luzon Mission

By Maureen N. Mariñas, and Relino M. Urbi

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Maureen N. Mariñas is serving Northeast Luzon Mission in Mabini, Alicia, Isabela, Philippines as the Communications and the Adventist Children’s Ministries director. She has served the church for 18 years as educator and office staff. Currently, Maureen is pursuing a Ph.D. in Education Administration.

Relino M. Urbi (M.A. in Public Health) is currently serving as executive secretary of Northeast Luzon Mission in Mabini, Alicia, Isabela, Philippines. He has previously served as field pastor, mission evangelist, and departmental director.

First Published: January 17, 2021

Formerly part of Northern Luzon Mission, Northeast Luzon Mission was organized in 2017. It is a part of North Philippine Union Conference of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Territory: Provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino.

Statistics (June 30, 2020): Churches, 174; membership, 29,315; population, 3,693,385.

The Background of Northeast Luzon Mission

The Northern Luzon Mission is the mother Mission of Northeast Luzon Mission. The Adventist work in Northern Luzon started through the printed pages with Roy E. Hay in the early part of 1915. Northeast Luzon Mission was organized in 1917, with Hay as the first superintendent.1 It has four provinces in the territory—Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, and La Union.2 As early as 1917, Hay contemplated entering Cagayan province.3 Then, tracts were distributed which were translated into Ibanag, the native people’s language. The Cagayan Valley provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, and Cagayan were added to Northeast Luzon Mission’s territory in 1919.4

As Lewis V. Finster and his thirteen companions arrived from San Francisco, U.S.A., to Manila, Philippines, a dinner was prepared, joined by some Filipino church members who belonged to ethnic groups in their distinctive languages—Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano, and Ibanag. Among the Filipino group was Agustin A. Panaga, a native of Cagayan and a student studying in Manila. This incident indicated that in 1914, there was already an Adventist member in Manila from Cagayan.5

In the early part of 1920, the gospel work in Northeast Luzon started through the efforts of a group of colporteurs, sent to enter the province of Cagayan. Among them was Aguinaldo Balinao. The group entered Alcala town, canvassing the area for three months.6 In October 1926 another group of colporteurs worked in the town of Camalaniugan, Cagayan.7 This was followed by a group of colporteurs again in 1928 working in Cagayan selling the Ilocano edition of The Great Controversy.8

The result of the colporteurs’ effort was tremendous. The first two Adventist churches established in Cagayan Valley were in Solano and Bone, Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya. The latter was organized after an evangelistic effort yielding 12 baptisms in January 1927. The Solano Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1928.9 Jose A. Valdez, leading the work in Nueva Vizcaya, reported in the last quarter of 1931 that 50 persons were being prepared for baptism.10

In Isabela, on the other hand, a church was organized in the first half of 1930.11 This church started as a “strong company” of believers.12 Although it was not identified, it was certain to be Cordon.13 On June 2, 1930, a church school opened in Cordon, the first in the Cagayan Valley. Colporteurs in Isabela continued selling books and creating interest for Bible study. In the last months of 1932, colporteurs found two Sabbath-keeping families who attributed their knowledge of the Sabbath from reading the Great Controversy.14 Due to financial constraints, instead of sending ten workers to labor in Isabela, only two colporteurs were doing the work in 1932.15 In 1933, a group of colporteurs went to the far villages of Gamu, Isabela where they created widespread interest in Bible studies.16

The work in Cagayan was continued by colporteurs amid life-threatening incidents and intense opposition.17 Fourteen of the 16-member group of colporteurs sent to Cagayan decided to stay “no matter what may happen to them.” 18 In 1933, the first baptism took place in Ballesteros, Cagayan.19 A nine-year-old boy named Maximo was among those who wanted to be baptized, but he was denied due to his age and the non-approval of his parents. He was baptized when he was thirteen, despite strong resistance from his father.

In early 1936, Northeast Luzon Mission received a letter from Lal-lo, Cagayan reporting a long list of names of people who were keeping the Sabbath after reading The Great Controversy. Bernardo Malqued, the same group leader who went to Cagayan before, held cottage meetings and home visitations for several months. Edward N. Lugenbeal, director of Northeast Luzon Mission, traveled to Lal-lo, Cagayan on January 16, 1937, to officiate the baptism of 46 people—the largest number in Northeast Luzon Mission during the pioneering years. Meanwhile, a large class studied the Bible.20 The new group of believers built a chapel for their worship services. In a nearby village a few kilometers away, another group of believers, similarly converted through reading The Great Controversy, also built a chapel. The colporteurs tirelessly forwarded the gospel work in the region.21

The Founding of NELM

The gospel work continued to flourish, and a plan to have another mission in Cagayan Valley was conceived. During the Biennial Session of the Philippine Union Mission on August 12-23, 1947, Pastor J. O. Bautista was elected as the first director of the Northeast Luzon Mission, with A. S. Aqui as secretary-treasurer. 22 The organization of the Northeast Luzon Mission took place January 1, 1948.2328

The new mission started with 23 organized churches and 26 companies, with a membership of 992. After six quarters, the territory has 32 churches, 27 companies, and a membership of 1,343. In the same year, a committee was created to select a location for the office and to give a study report for the site of a junior academy. The committee consisted of E. M. Adams, A. M. Ragadale, and J. O. Bautista. The academy was named Northeast Luzon Academy and was established in Divisoria, Santiago, Isabela on July 1, 1948, with J. A. Bangloy as principal. The first general meetings were held April 19-23, 1949, on the grounds of the academy. As a newly organized mission, Northeast Luzon Mission had medical ministry through the services of a field nurse, A. M. Arafiles, and E. A. Pasamonte at the dispensary at the headquarters. The publishing ministries that started the work progressed with Juan Revita leading as department secretary.24

Organizational History

On September 24, 1949, the Philippine Union Mission Committee voted to permit Northeast Luzon Mission to purchase a lot in Santiago, Isabela for the mission office.25 In the 1950 Biennial Session, F. B. Dela Cruz was elected as the president of Northeast Luzon Mission. During the 1951-1952 academic year, 29 church schools operated, serving 896 pupils. The schools, including the academy, had been instrumental in the baptism of 130 students. The new mission office building was inaugurated on August 10, 1952. It was the most spacious mission office building in the North Philippine Union Mission at that time. At the end of 1952, the mission membership was 1,810, and its tithe collection significantly increased.26 In the 1953 North Philippine Union Mission Biennial Session, J. A. Revita was elected to serve as the president from 1954-1955.27

The year 1956 was challenging for Northeast Luzon Mission. P. R. Diaz had served as the president from 1956-1957. 28 F. B. dela Cruz returned, taking the role as president in 1957. A decision was made on February 1, 1957, to combine Northeast Luzon Mission with Northern Luzon Mission due to economic conditions. 29 Despite this, the membership grew, and its territory widened. For years, Northeast Luzon Mission and Northern Luzon Mission workers labored together toward the attainment of the gospel cause.

On November 19, 2015, the Executive Committee of the North Philippine Union Conference (formerly North Philippine Union Mission), a century after Roy E. Hay started the work through printed pages, voted to create a new territory named Northeast Luzon Attached Field. The new field comprised the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino.30 Having no headquarters yet, it was voted to temporarily have its building at Northeast Luzon Adventist College.

The pioneering administrative committee was composed of laypersons Dr. Marcelo Raquepo of Cagayan and Renato Calla Nueva Vizcaya, the administrators and directors, and Pastor Sinogo Valdez. On February 4-6, 2016, the first special convocation was held and the groundbreaking was conducted for the transition office at Northeast Luzon Adventist College. While the transition headquarters building was in progress, all transactions and services were held in the president’s house, which served as the temporary office. Before the president’s house became available for use, meetings were usually held under the shade of trees, with the cool northern breeze to sustain the right atmosphere for the workers. On June 18, 2016, the transition office was inaugurated, and the office works resumed with a clearer sense of direction.

An application for mission status was sent to the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. The evaluating committee came on July 13, 2016, to assess the application. On November 7, 2016, the application was approved, weaning Northeast Luzon Attached Field from North Luzon Mission and making it Northeast Luzon Mission. This transition was through the recommendation of the North Philippine Union Conference and the approval of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.31 During the First Constituency Session on January 21, 2017, Northeast Luzon Attached Field was declared Northeast Luzon Mission. The declaration was officiated by Pastor Samuel Saw, Southern Asia-Pacific Division President.32

On March 24, 2017, the groundbreaking ceremony for the headquarters was done on the lot, across the Pan-Philippine Highway, also known as the Maharlika Highway, fronting Northeast Luzon Adventist College. The mission celebrated its first anniversary January 19-20, 2018, with the stone laying ceremony for the headquarters as one of the highlights of the event.33 The soft inauguration program for the new headquarters was held December 20, 2019.34

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed significant events of Northeast Luzon Mission such as the transfer to the new headquarters. Moreover, it caused the mission to resort to media and technology to nurture church members and evangelize. Hence the media ministries were established, and Northeast Luzon Mission took in missionary volunteers to forward the gospel work.35

Presidents

Jose O. Bautista (1948-1949); Felix B.de la Cruz (1950-1953, 1957); Juan A. Revita (1954-1955); P. R. Diaz (1956); Levi S. Payoyo (2016-present).

Sources

Adams, Elbridge. “Items from the Philippines.” ARH, January 1, 1914.

Afenir, Juan O. “Northern Luzon Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1929.

Afenir, Juan O. “From the Northern Luzon Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1930.

Afenir, Juan O. “Northern Luzon Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1930.

Afenir, Juan O. “The Northern Luzon Mission-1925-6.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1927.

Afenir, Juan O. “Colporteur Pioneers in the Cagayan Valley.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1929.

Balinao, Aguinaldo. “Progress in Northern Luzon.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1932.

Bautista, J. O. “NELM Report.” Biennial Session 1949.

Dela Cruz, F. B. “Northeast Luzon Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1953.

Domocmat, Lowel J. Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019).

Marinas, M. N. “Of Miracles and Memories.” Headquarters Inauguration Souvenir Book (Northeast Luzon Mission, 2019), 22.

Mills, R. C. “The First North Philippine Union Biennial Session.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1953.

Mote, F. A. “Souls Won through Literature Ministry.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1937.

Northeast Luzon Mission Executive Committee Minutes, Action No. 2017-183.

Northeast Luzon Mission Executive Committee Minutes, Action No. 2020-131.

North Philippine Union Conference Executive Committee, Action No. 2015-272.

Payoyo, L. S. “In the Valley.” Northeast Luzon Mission Year-End Report 2020.

Payoyo, L. S. “Miracles.” First Constituency Session Souvenir Book (Northeast Luzon Mission, 2017), 74.

Philippine Statistics Authority. “Population of Region II – Cagayan Valley (Based on the 2015 Census of Population).

Philippine Union Mission Biennial Session Minutes, 1947. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Philippine Union Mission Committee Minutes, August 24, 1947. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Philippine Union Mission Committee Minutes, September 24, 1949. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Philippine Union Mission Biennial Session Minutes 1956. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Philippine Union Mission Executive Committee Minutes, January 1957. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Pilar, Rafael. “The Faithfulness of Maximo.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 15, 1937.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Southern Asia-Pacific Division Year-End Meeting, Action No. 2016-143. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Wiedemann, M. F. “Literature in the Philippines.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1933.

Notes

  1. Lowel J. Domocmat, Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019), 145.

  2. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918).

  3. Lowel J. Domocmat, Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019), 146.

  4. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1919).

  5. Elbridge Adams, “Items from the Philippines,” ARH, January 1, 1914, 12.

  6. Lowel J. Domocmat, Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019), 146.

  7. Ibid., 147.

  8. Ibid., 149.

  9. Juan O. Afenir, “Northern Luzon Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1929, 6-7.

  10. Aguinaldo Balinao, “Progress in Northern Luzon,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1932,2.

  11. Lowel J. Domocmat, Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019), 155.

  12. Juan O. Afenir, “From the Northern Luzon Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1930, 6l.

  13. Lowel J. Domocmat, Beacon in the North: The Beginning of Adventism in Northern Luzon, Philippines (Oikos Biblios Publishing House, 2019), 155.

  14. Ibid., 156.

  15. Aguinaldo Balinao, “Progress in Northern Luzon,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1929, 2.

  16. M. F. Wiedemann, “Literature in the Philippines,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1933, 4-5.

  17. Juan O. Afenir, “Northern Luzon Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1930, 5.

  18. J. O. Afenir, “The Northern Luzon Mission-1925-6,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1927, 19-20.

  19. Rafael Pilar, “The Faithfulness of Maximo,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 15, 1937, 5.

  20. F. A. Mote, “Souls Won through Literature Ministry,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1937, 5-6.

  21. Juan O. Afenir, “Colporteur Pioneers in the Cagayan Valley,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1929, 5.

  22. Philippine Union Mission Biennial Session Minutes, 1947.

  23. Philippine Union Mission Committee Minutes, August 24, 1947.

  24. J. O. Bautista, “NELM Report,” Biennial Session 1949.

  25. Philippine Union Mission Committee Minutes, September 24, 1949.

  26. F. B. Dela Cruz, “Northeast Luzon Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1953, 4.

  27. R. C. Mills, “The First North Philippine Union Biennial Session,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1953, 2.

  28. Philippine Union Mission Biennial Session Minutes 1956.

  29. Philippine Union Mission Executive Committee Minutes, January 1957.

  30. North Philippine Union Conference Executive Committee, Action No. 2015-272.

  31. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Year-End Meeting, Action No. 2016-143.

  32. Levi S. Payoyo, Miracles. First Constituency Session Souvenir Book (Northeast Luzon Mission, 2017), 74.

  33. Northeast Luzon Mission Executive Committee Minutes, Action No. 2017-183.

  34. Maureen N. Marinas, Of Miracles and Memories. Headquarters Inauguration Souvenir Book (Northeast Luzon Mission, 2019), 22.

  35. Northeast Luzon Mission Executive Committee Minutes, Action No. 2020-131.

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Mariñas, Maureen N., Relino M. Urbi. "Northeast Luzon Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 17, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCLI.

Mariñas, Maureen N., Relino M. Urbi. "Northeast Luzon Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 17, 2021. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCLI.

Mariñas, Maureen N., Relino M. Urbi (2021, January 17). Northeast Luzon Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCLI.